Sam Lee: If sane chooses to leave Manchester City, they may introduce Mikel Oyarzabal

If nobody would or could sign Otamendi in the summer, will anybody try in the winter window? Perhaps, if demands are lowered.
The other option is letting Sane go. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of City’s whole transfer plan is that they were insistent if the winger left in the summer they would not replace him. Felix quickly proved to be more expensive than their valuation — Atletico Madrid paying Benfica a fee in instalments that could rise to £113 million — so they decided that if Sane were to refuse to sign a new contract and go to suitors Bayern Munich, they would cope without him.
Given the entire justification for adding Mahrez to their vibrant attacking line-up last summer was that they needed another option to help them compete in all four competitions, it appeared another risk.
There was a sense that City were laying the groundwork for Sane’s exit before he got injured in the Community Shield, with senior officials stating an asking price. Whether Bayern would have got to that fee we may never know, but City wouldn’t have signed a replacent if they had.
In January, they may be forced into cutting their losses.
City want Sane to stay but he appears no closer to extending his stay at the club and, with 18 months on his contract, Bayern are in a stronger negotiating position.
The Athletic understands that City are now drawing up plans to replace him, if he does indeed leave, and Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal is under firm consideration. City were linked with the 22-year-old in the summer, and sources close to the player indicate that he is expecting the call over the next few months.
You never quite know how City’s transfer plans will pan out but if they were to accept defeat on Sane and replace him with Oyarzabal, there would still be no room for a new centre-back from abroad, such as Dias (whose release clause is still around £60 million despite repeated attempts from Benfica to up it to closer to £85 million) unless they can offload Otamendi.
Maybe that will shape their thinking yet again, because surely the defence is a more pressing concern at the moment. That said, Guardiola insists they won’t be signing anybody.
The season is by no means over for City and there is plenty of time for things to change.
They will look a different side with Laporte and, possibly, Sane back in the team at the start of next year, although they need to come through the aforementioned fixtures unscathed and hope Liverpool struggle in their pre-Christmas games against Crystal Palace, Everton, Bournemouth and Watford.
Either way, if City feel the need to strengthen in the winter window to boost their push for the title, or the Champions League, they will find doing so just as difficult as they did in the summer.

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