Signing Alexis Sanchez would solve some of Pep's problems at Man City
Manchester City's move for Alexis Sanchez would enable Pep Guardiola to rectify some of the problems he has faced so far in England.
"We need to improve in both boxes, both offensively and defensively, to score goals and not concede," has been a theme the City boss has returned to throughout his debut season at the club.
While the defence will be the main focus of this summer's overhaul, with at least two full-backs and a centre-half expected to arrive at the Etihad, Guardiola is determined to improve his forward line. And the Catalan knows all about the qualities of Sanchez after taking him to Barcelona when he was in charge at the Camp Nou, although they spent just one season together before Guardiola took a year out of the game.
He has remained a fan and praised the Chilean when he was nominated for the World Player of the Year award last November. "I am happy for Alexis, I appreciate him a lot. I spent a nice time in Barca together. Now he plays more as striker and is doing well because he is strong and he deserves to be there," he said.
Guardiola embraced him at full-time after City's 2-2 draw at the Emirates on April. 2 and it would appear the respect is mutual, with Chilean website Coopertiva reporting that Sanchez wants to join City in the summer.
It would appear to be low-risk signing for City with Sanchez emerging as one of the leading lights in the Premier League over his three seasons with the Gunners. He has scored 64 goals from 134 appearances in all competitions and was voted the PFA Fans' Player of the Year in 2015.
But he has become increasingly frustrated at a club struggling to keep up with Premier League and European rivals. His unhappiness was plain to see in two humiliating 5-1 defeats to Bayern Munich in the Champions League this season. With 12 months remaining on his contract at the end of the season and Arsenal in danger of missing out on the top four, it would seem the right time to make a move.
Sanchez has all the qualities Guardiola is looking for. He's a goalscorer and a hard worker with the flexibility to play anywhere across the front four positions.
He is the third in this season's goalscoring charts -- behind Everton's Romelu Lukaku and Tottenham's Harry Kane -- and has finished in the top 10 in his two previous campaign. Even during his time in Spain, which wasn't seen a huge success as he was overshadowed by the indomitable Lionel Messi, he scored 39 goals in 65 La Liga starts and helped the Blaugrana to the 2013 title.
Since his move to the Emirates in July 2014, the Chilean has become one of the best players in the Premier League. Sanchez has taken on the responsibility at a struggling club. His hard running will be appreciated by Guardiola, who believes defending starts from the front -- not least by easing the pressure on the defence by scoring more goals.
City have been pegged back from winning positions too many times this season and Guardiola believes it has been a major contribution to their inability to maintain a significant title challenge. They were on top and leading in crucial games against top-six rivals Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal but failed to see the matches through, taking just two points rather than nine. Three successive home draws against Everton, Southampton and Middlesbrough were also costly, with City dominating all of them but scoring just once in each.
Guardiola also demands his forwards win the ball back as quickly as possible and Sanchez is full of that hard work he is looking for. His ability to play anywhere effectively will up the pressure on City's exciting attacking line of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus. With a lack of competition provided by Jesus Navas and Nolito for the wing positions, the City boss feels added pressure will bring more from his young forwards, who would not be so assured of a place in his team. It would give him the opportunity to rotate his squad with City determined to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League next season.
Guardiola's biggest irritation from their Champions League defeat to Monaco when holding a winning advantage was that City retreated rather than put the Ligue 1 leaders under greater pressure. Signing Sanchez would go some way in rectifying the problems that have blighted Guardiola's debut season.
Sanchez's arrival would bring question marks over the future of Sergio Aguero but Guardiola has said he wants to keep him.
Keeping Aguero and signing Sanchez? City would have one of the most incredible attacking units in England, as well as Europe.
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.