Manhester City are expected to make an improved offer for Leonardo Bonucci, after Juventus rejected an opening bid of £38.6 million for the Italy centre-half, as Pep Guardiola steps up his protracted battle to reshape the club’s defence.
Guardiola wants to sign two central defenders, a right-back and a goalkeeper but City may have to pay a fee of around £50 million to lure Bonucci, a similar amount of money to what Everton are demanding for their other centre-half target, John Stones.
Bonucci impressed at the European Championships for Italy, who were beaten in the quarter-finals on penalties by Germany last Saturday, and Guardiola has made no secret of his admiration for the 29-year-old, whom he described as “one of my favourite players” after Bayern Munich’s 2-2 Champions League draw with Juventus in February.
But Bonucci is contracted to the Turin club for another four years and it is likely to take a world-record fee close to £50 million to tempt them to sell as City search for an experienced, world-class defender given that Vincent Kompany’s perennial injury woes have left the club unable to depend on their captain’s fitness.
City’s interest in Bonucci has not signalled the end of their pursuit of Stones, for whom Everton are demanding more than the record £49 million fee for an Englishman that City paid Liverpool for Raheem Sterling last summer.
Yet the prospect of City paying around £100 million for two centre-halves would be an admission that the signings in the past two years of Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi, who cost a combined total of £74 million, have fallen well short of expectations. City will listen to offers for Mangala depending on their success in the transfer market.
Jason Denayer has returned from a loan spell with Galatasaray and hopes to stake a claim for a first-team place. Martin Demichelis left the club when his contract ended last month.
With Pablo Zabaleta likely to join Roma and another full-back, Aleksandar Kolarov, attracting strong interest from Turkish champions Besikitas, Guardiola has an interest in Brazilian right-back Bruno Peres, who plays for Torino. Real Sociedad goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli claims Guardiola has asked him to move to the Etihad Stadium.
City are also interested in £40 million-rated Schalke and Germany winger Leroy Sane, who has been told by his club to make a speedy decision on his future. “Leroy Sane must make a decision about his future after Euro 2016,” Christian Heidel, the Schalke sporting director, said. “We’ve always made it clear that we would be pleased if Leroy remains at Schalke.”
Guardiola has made three signings so far, with Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan arriving from Borussia Dortmund for £21.6 million, Spain winger Nolito signing from Celta Vigo for £13.8 million and Ukraine midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko joining from FC Ufa for £3.4 million