Manchester City are confident that they have found the right-footed centre-half that Pep Guardiola has been searching for as they prepare to complete the £64.3m arrival of Benfica defender Ruben Dias.
The 23-year-old will become City’s record signing once his move to the Etihad is finalised, with Nicolas Otamendi moving in the opposite direction in a separate £13.7m deal pending the completion of a medical.
Dias has been on the radar of City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain for more than two years and he will join for less than his £80m release clause, which the Etihad club believe represents excellent value for money.
The Portugal international has in previous years attracted interest from Manchester United, Juventus and Arsenal - who are understood to have seen a £60m bid rejected by Benfica last summer.
Dias’ age, profile and ability have convinced Etihad officials that they have secured the right player among all the options considered, having felt that several other alternatives were over-priced.
City also pursued a deal for Kalidou Koulibaly but were not prepared to meet Napoli’s asking price for the 29-year-old, which they deemed too expensive. Sources also insist no formal bid was ever lodged for Koulibaly.
Atletico Madrid’s demands for Jose Giminez were also judged to be unrealistic and the 25-year-old’s injury record was another point of concern. The Uruguay international missed 19 games for Atletico due to injury last season.
Benfica announced both Dias’ departure and Otamendi’s arrival in Portugal in a pair of statements released on Sunday night, though official confirmation of both deals from City will arrive once the Argentina international has completed his medical in Lisbon.
City are pleased with the £13.7m fee for Otamendi, who joined from Valencia for £32m in 2015. The 32-year-old was a regular in Guardiola’s 2017-18 Premier League title-winning side but became a more peripheral figure following the arrival of Aymeric Laporte.
Dias is likely to line up alongside the left-footed Laporte as Guardiola’s first-choice centre-back pairing, with John Stones and fellow new signing Nathan Ake providing cover. Eric Garcia remains a target for Barcelona, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.