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VAN'S THE MAN

Pep Guardiola’s obsession with full backs has led to unlikely January transfer target

Etihad chief is eyeing a shock January move for Dutchman as cover for injured Benjamin Mendy

Pep Guardiola just loves a full back.

The Manchester City boss spent over £100m in that position in the summer – but that hasn’t stopped him licking his lips at the prospect of signing more.

Guardiola is desperate for left-back cover following the cruciate knee injury sustained by £49.3m signing Benjamin Mendy.


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Patrick van Aanholt is the surprise name on Pep Guardiola’s shopping list

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Patrick van Aanholt is the surprise name on Pep Guardiola’s shopping list

And he’s now ready to turn to Patrick van Aanholt, of all people.

The Dutch ace arrived at Crystal Palace from Sunderland in January but Eagles chief Roy Hodgson could cash in to recoup the £12m fee.

Hodgson boasts Jeffrey Schlupp as cover and has played Joel Ward at left-back, with Pape Souare returning from injury and Jairo Riedewald also able to play full-back.

Fabian Delph has filled in superbly at left-back for City and summer signing Danilo can also play there.

Pep Guardiola is looking for cover for injured Benjamin Mendy

AFP or licensors
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Pep Guardiola is looking for cover for injured Benjamin Mendy

Mendy was badly hurt against Crystal Palace in September and is out for the season

Reuters
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Mendy was badly hurt against Crystal Palace in September and is out for the season

But Guardiola wants a specialist in the position for the second half of the season – when he hopes City will be competing for both the Premier League and Champions League crowns.

Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand is also on Guardiola’s list but could prove difficult to get out of St Mary’s.

City had a look at Espanyol and Spain Under-21 star Aaron Martin but they have doubts whether he can adapt to English football.

Van Aanholt came through Chelsea’s youth ranks and had loan spells at Newcastle and Leicester before being sold to Sunderland for just £1.5m in 2014.

Van Aanholt in action for Palace against Manchester United

Reuters
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Van Aanholt in action for Palace against Manchester United

The Dutchman is the specialist full-back Guardiola has been looking for

Reuters
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The Dutchman is the specialist full-back Guardiola has been looking for

His pace and eye for goal convinced Palace to splash out – and he has now caught the eye of Guardiola.