Belfast Telegraph

Pellegrini insists City had Nicolas Otamendi on radar

By Andy Hampson

Manuel Pellegrini insists Manchester City signed Nicolas Otamendi because he wanted a new central defender.

City this week bought Otamendi from Valencia for around £32m having previously given little indication they were seeking a player in that position.

It was suggested the Spanish club may have pushed for the deal because they still owe City after agreeing to sign Alvaro Negredo for £24m last year, but manager Pellegrini says that was not a factor, insisting that it was important to bolster the central defensive ranks with captain Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis likely to face a heavy workload this season.

The Chilean said: "There was not a change of mind in the last moment. We tried to buy a centre-back from the beginning of this new season. For different reasons we couldn't buy before. Always in my mind was to bring in a centre-back this year.

"We worked during the summer with different options. We moved a lot of different options. Finally we agreed that the best option was Otamendi but, I repeat, it was the idea I had from the beginning."

There were also reports that City defender Eliaquim Mangala, a £42m signing last year, could move to Valencia on loan as part of the deal for Otamendi.

Pellegrini admits this possibility was raised but he refused. Mangala, who had a mixed first season at City, has started the new campaign well and Pellegrini wanted to retain him along with Otamendi, captain Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis.

Pellegrini said: "There was a lot of talking about different options. The option that we wanted was to bring Otamendi here, so Otamendi is here. The conversation may have had a lot of options, but finally I decided that Mangala must stay here with Otamendi."

Pellegrini is likely to keep Otamendi, 27, waiting for his full debut after two impressive displays from Kompany and Mangala.

He said: "In this moment, in the way we are playing, it is impossible to move Kompany and Mangala from their positions and all the rest of the players. They are in a good moment. We did not concede one goal in the last two games. We continue playing with the same."

The other centre-back in the City first-team squad, 20-year-old Belgium international Jason Denayer, may now find opportunities limited and could move out on loan for a second successive season after spending last year at Celtic.

Pellegrini said: "We will see will see now where he will go or if he stays here."

City continue to be heavily linked with Wolfsburg playmaker Kevin de Bruyne, as they have been for most of the summer, but Pellegrini will not acknowledge any interest.

"I don't talk about rumours," he said. "I have to talk about so many players it is impossible."

City reportedly made a £47m offer for the former Chelsea player last week, but there have been no developments since.

City can equal a club record of nine successive league wins if they maintain their strong start to the season with victory at Everton tomorrow.

Menawhile City defender Pablo Zabaleta could be out of action for a month with a knee injury.

The Argentina right-back, who has not yet featured this season after returning late following summer international duty, was hurt in training this week.

On the positive side, new midfield signing Fabian Delph is now back in training after suffering a hamstring injury during pre-season, as is fellow midfielder Fernando after a groin problem.

Premier League: Everton v Manchester City, Goodison Park, Sunday 4pm (Sky Sports 1)

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