Pep Guardiola admits being unable to trust Benjamin Mendy’s fitness is likely to force him into the transfer market.
Manchester City made Mendy the most expensive full-back in football history when they signed him from Monaco for £52million in July 2017.
The France international’s all-action performances and ebullient social media persona quickly established him as a fan favourite, but a ruptured cruciate knee ligament forced him to miss most of last season as City won the Premier League and EFL Cup.
Another knee surgery this term has been compounded by a reaction on the 24-year-old’s return to training and Mendy will sit out Saturday’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth, with Guardiola conceding he only made the bench for Wednesday’s 1-0 win over West Ham due to injury problems elsewhere in his squad.
City lack specialist cover at left-back – Ukraine midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko the latest player entrusted with filling the problem position – and their manager confirmed this is a situation he will look to address in the next transfer window.
“We are thinking about the chance to find some players who play in that position,” Guardiola said.
“There are three or four positions I think we have to try to look for and some ideas we have. In the end I don’t know what is going to happen, but it is an option to buy a left-back.”
Guardiola rejected the suggestion that Mendy’s struggles were in any way attributable to the demands of English football but was realistic over his prospects of avoiding further fitness woes in the long term.
“If it happens in two seasons it can happen in three,” he said. “Hopefully not, he is working on that, but the truth is we could use him in few games.
“That is the reality. In the end, the strongest guys, every day they are there. That is not true [for Mendy] so that is why we are looking, maybe, for the next season.”
Reinforcements in holding midfield are an established priority for Guardiola, who is under contract at the Etihad Stadium until June 2021.
City failed in their attempts to sign Jorginho last year and, in a similar scenario to their left-back predicament, do not have a like-for-like replacement for Fernandinho – another of the current injury absentees due to a groin problem.
Reports this week linked City to Serbia forward Luka Jovic – the Bundesliga’s top scorer who is currently on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt from Benfica – but Guardiola would not be drawn on the other areas he is looking to strengthen.
“You know [we want a] holding midfielder. We are going to try and [there is] another position we are thinking about,” he added.
“I’m not going to tell you which positions, I don’t want to tell you which players. You have sources, so you are going to find it, so no problem.”
City are a point behind Liverpool at the Premier League summit, with 10 games to play this season.
Guardiola’s men can apply pressure by leapfrogging the leaders with victory at Bournemouth in a game that takes place a day before the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.