Manchester City have identified Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard as their no.1 defensive target should Kyle Walker leave to join the German champions in a move that could see both sides swap right-backs before the end of the summer.
A deal for Walker is described as ‘advanced on the players side’, with personal terms expected to be agreed despite Manchester City being keen on having the defender signing a new 12 month contract at the Etihad Stadium.
Given City’s general rule of not standing in the way of players that want to leave, should Bayern table an acceptable offer it is likely that Walker will be headed to Bavaria.
The Guardian report that should this happen, it is none other than Bayern’s current right back Pavard that Manchester City have earmarked to take his place, with the 27-year-old out of contract in 2024 as things stand and reportedly keen to follow compatriot Lucas Hernandez out of the Allianz Arena this summer.
Pavard would become Manchester City’s second signing of the summer, with Mateo Kovacic having arrived from Chelsea earlier in the transfer window. Their business is not thought to be set to stop there though, and they remain in talks over RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol as well as being keen on another midfielder after losing out on Declan Rice, who has joined Arsenal.
Why do Manchester City want Benjamin Pavard?
In the second half of the season, Manchester City’s system changed, with the right back inverting and playing as a second midfielder in possession, rather than overlapping as they had been previously.
Walker’s strengths are not in doing that, as Pep Guardiola himself revealed earlier in the season.
“He cannot do it. He will always have pace, he will be the fastest in this room at 60. To play inside you have to make some movements, he has other characteristics,” he said. “He has played as a full-back coming inside with four in the back with Joao [Cancelo] or Alex [Zinchenko] in that position and Kyle has done it really well, but with this shape of three in the back and two in the middle he cannot do it.”
Guardiola tends to prefer having centre-backs playing this role, and has relied on John Stones in recent months as well as academy graduate Rico Lewis. However, Pavard, who has played both as a centre-back and right-back during his time in Germany, is another that fits into the same versatile mould required to succeed in that role.