December 15, 2017 / 7:02 PM / 4 months ago

Soccer: Guardiola eyes defensive reinforcement in January

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is keen to bolster his defensive ranks in January but is only interested in a long-term solution to the club’s current shortage at the back.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Swansea City vs Manchester City - Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Britain - December 13, 2017 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates at the end of the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Guardiola has four senior centre backs in his squad — John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala.

Stones, however, is currently out with a hamstring injury and Kompany missed Wednesday’s win over Swansea City with a minor muscle problem.

British media reports have said City are targeting Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, while Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez has also been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium.

“We speak about (January signings) with the club and Txiki Begiristain (the club’s director of football). We have just three guys in central defence,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday when asked if he would sign a defender in January.

“We don’t want to sign someone for a few months. We want to sign them for years and we have to make sure it’s the right guy.”

Guardiola confirmed England’s Stones was progressing well in his recovery from a hamstring injury sustained in the win over Leicester City on Nov. 18.

“He’s much, much better,” Guardiola said. “I think he’s at four weeks (of his recovery). The doctor said he would be out between four and six. In one or two weeks, he will be ready.”

Kompany, meanwhile, is likely to miss Saturday’s Premier League home match against Tottenham Hotspur but could return next week.

“He has a little problem,” Guardiola added. “I don’t know if tomorrow he will be fit, but hopefully in the next days he will be ready.”

City are 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League after winning a record 15 games in succession. They are being talked about as one of the best teams of the Premier League era, but Guardiola believes there is room for improvement.

“It’s important to play better — that is the most important thing,” he said.

“The record will always stay there until one day it is broken. I am happy not with the results but the way we play. Statistics are good, but I have the feeling we can be much, much better.”

Reporting by Matt Westby; Editing by Toby Davis

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