By Paul Clennam
Manchester City are poised to make a late move for Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala.
The Premier League champions are keen to reinforce their defence still further despite agreeing a deal in principle with Atletico Madrid for veteran Argentina international Martin Demichelis.
City are unwilling to match Mangala’s €44 million release clause and value the player at closer to the €35m figure they were prepared to pay for Real Madrid star Pepe, before the 30-year-old indicated he would prefer to stay and fight for his place in Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
The Premier League club are yet to submit a formal offer for the powerful France international, 22, but it is understood they are ready to sanction a deal should the Portuguese club give an indication they are willing to sell at a price closer to City’s valuation.
City’s interest in Mangala, who has been capped three times by his country at senior level, has been long-standing. The club first sent scouts to monitor his progress during Porto’s Champions League last 16 clash against Malaga last season and new manager Manuel Pellegrini is a keen admirer of the player.
The 2012 Premier League champions started the new campaign by crushing Newcastle 4-0 at Etihad Stadium but the defensive vulnerability that was evident in their pre-season campaign reared its head during the shock 3-2 defeat at newly promoted Cardiff last weekend.
Pellegrini is particularly keen to strengthen his rearguard in light of the groin injury suffered by captain Vincent Kompany against Alan Pardew’s men, which forced Javi Garcia to play at centre-half against the Welsh outfit.