(Reuters) - Manchester City will need to loosen their purse strings and sign players in the January transfer window if they are to compete for titles this season, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has said.
Manager Pep Guardiola has been left with depleted options in defence after Vincent Kompany moved to Anderlecht while Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have been injured, forcing the Spaniard to start defensive midfielder Fernandinho alongside Nicolas Otamendi at the back.
The makeshift defensive line-up came through with a victory against Everton on Saturday, but not before giving away a goal due to a defensive mix up while also conceding eight shots on target.
Guardiola had said prior to the game that City could not afford reinforcements in January, despite spending less than rivals in the summer transfer window.
“You have to think that City will spend in January,” Neville told Sky Sports. “I saw this morning that Guardiola said they didn’t have any money. Well, they’ve got more than everybody else.
“They bought Aymeric Laporte in January a year and a half ago, and I feel that they’re going to have to do the same again.
“This won’t be good enough for the Champions League or the Premier League. Guardiola will know it - he knows the standard more than anybody.”
Guardiola had also vowed to stick with youngsters Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Eric Garcia - both of whom started and helped keep a clean sheet in City’s third-round victory over Preston in the League Cup.
“They’ve set limits, and perhaps it’s not so much the fee, but the wages that will be demanded to attract the right type of player, which is making the Manchester City hierarchy nervous and stay within a structure,” Neville said.
“But with Vincent Kompany going, it leaves a huge void, not just on the pitch but off it. There aren’t too many players like him around, and he’s difficult to replace.”
City are currently second in the Premier League, trailing Liverpool by five points.
Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly