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City close in on Martin Demichelis

Manchester City are hoping to sign Martin Demichelis as they look to end their long search for another central defender.

Mooney:  Over the border

But they want Atletico Madrid to reduce their €5 million asking price for a player they signed on a free transfer earlier this summer, hoping to pay nearer €3 million for the 32-year-old.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini worked with Demichelis when both were at Malaga and has made him his top target, a source told ESPN.

And the 2012 Premier League champions have switched their attention to the Argentina international after accepting it was unlikely that Pepe would leave Real Madrid to sign for them.

Demichelis, a former River Plate and Bayern Munich player, signed for Atletico when his Malaga contract expired this summer.

City lost one central defender in the close-season when Kolo Toure joined Liverpool after his contract at the Etihad Stadium expired.

Then Matija Nastasic missed the start of the season with an ankle injury, Vincent Kompany was ruled out for a month with a groin strain sustained in the opening 4-0 win over Newcastle and the versatile Micah Richards suffered a hamstring problem.

It could mean Joleon Lescott is the only regular specialist central defender available for Sunday’s trip to Cardiff, although Nastasic is expected to recover in time to play.

If not, midfielder Javi Garcia, who came on for Kompany against Newcastle, is likely to deputise while Dedryck Boyata, who has not played a competitive game for City since May 2011, is also in contention.

Pellegrini said: “Nastasic has worked this week. We also have Javi Garcia and Boyata. We have three options so we will see who is best.”

Kompany missed spells of last season with back and calf problems but Pellegrini denied the captain’s fitness is becoming a concern.

He added: “That season was one thing, this season is another thing.”

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