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Jul 2, 2014

Manchester City eyeing Mehdi Benatia

Is Mehdi Benatia already preparing to leave Roma barely a year after joining?
Mehdi Benatia impressed during his debut season at Roma.

Manchester City are interested in Roma centre-back Mehdi Benatia as manager Manuel Pellegrini looks to bolster his defence, although a source has told ESPN FC that reports of personal terms already being agreed with the player are not accurate.

- Mooney: City still tinkering
- Transfer Talk: Barca open talks with Suarez

City have long been looking to add a top-class centre-back to their squad and made an offer for Porto's Eliaquim Mangala at the end of the January transfer window.

No deal could be agreed then and while City are still interested in the France international, Porto are expected to ask for an inflated price for a player who has also been linked with Chelsea and Manchester United.

Benatia, 27, has now emerged as an alternative target after an excellent season that saw him help Roma finish second in Serie A.

The Morocco international cost the Italian club 13.5 million euros last summer when he joined from Udinese, but his value has increased since then.

However, despite reports in Italy that a 30 million-pound offer from City has been accepted, sources say that is not the case.

City released centre-back Joleon Lescott in the summer, meaning that Pellegrini only has three specialists in the position -- captain Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis and Matija Nastasic.

Demichelis, 33, who joined from Atletico Madrid last summer, became a regular as the club won the Premier League title, but there has always been the expectation that they would look for a younger player to partner Kompany.

Pellegrini has made two summer signings already, bringing in Porto midfielder Fernando and Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna, who can also provide cover in the centre of defence.

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