With Chelsea thoroughly imploded and Manchester United struggling under the command of Louis van Gaal, Manchester City are seemingly in a perfect position to race back to the top of the table and reclaim the Premier League title. However, the football club has shown signs of weakness in recent weeks, and could very well enter 2016 in a three-way race with Arsenal and Leicester City. Will manager Manuel Pellegrini and the other higher-ups at Etihad Stadium use the January transfer market as a means of putting their club on top?
Gunning for Vardy
Perhaps the biggest transfer rumor floating around right now is that Manchester City could be interested in offering Leicester City a £30 million fee to sign Jamie Vardy. Vardy, of course, has been the standout in the Premier League this season. The 28-year-old striker scored in 11 consecutive Premier League matches this fall, an English all-time record. His scoring heroics and overall consistency have allowed Leicester City-a "middle class" Premier League club-to become title contenders.
Needless to say, just about any soccer club would be happy to sign Vardy at this point, with Chelsea and Manchester City being the likely frontrunners. That fact could work in Leicester's favor, if they decide to sell their current star. When they signed Vardy in 2012, Leicester only paid a £1 million fee for him. To get 30 times that less than four years later would be a major feat.
It is worth noting, however, that Vardy extended his original contract in 2014, meaning he is tied to Leicester City until 2018. The soccer club really has no reason to sell him, other than money, and since some reports indicate that the club is preparing an improved contract for Vardy as we speak, chances of him leaving don't seem very high. It seems especially unlikely that Leicester City would sell Vardy in January, as he could be their ticket to winning the Premier League for the first time ever.
Benzema Eager to Leave Real Madrid?
If Manchester City does make a move to sign a big-name striker in January, it's more likely that they will grab Karim Benzema than Jamie Vardy. Benzema is reportedly unhappy at Real Madrid and wants to make a move to the Premier League.
The French striker-who, like Vardy, is 28 years old-has performed strongly for Real Madrid this fall, scoring 11 La Liga goals in just 11 appearances. (Cristiano Ronaldo, for the record, is just ahead of him with 12 goals.)
A Benzema transfer might be a perfect opportunity for both Real Madrid and Manchester City. The feeling across the soccer world is that the Vikings have almost too much big talent, and not enough collaborative spirit. Some football pundits have argued that, by selling some of their biggest players, Real Madrid could reduce friction and create a more unified team. The big rumor is that either Ronaldo or Gareth Bale (still the two most expensive players ever, in terms of transfer fees) will leave, but Benzema could be out the door, too.
Manchester City, meanwhile, have a strong need for good offensive players. Sergio Aguero, dependably one of the best forwards in the Premier League, has struggled with several injuries this fall, leaving the Sky Blues weaker up front than they need to be to win a title. Benzema could help to shore up the offense and put City back in the Premier League frontrunner slot.
If there's a reason City might not go for Benzema, it's his age. At 28, the Frenchman would be a pricey transfer for who knows how many good years of football. Like Aguero, Benzema has struggled with injuries this fall, missing three stints since August due to a persistent hamstring issue. Since injuries have already been a problem for the Sky Blues this fall, would they want to sign someone who they know isn't entirely healthy from a physical standpoint?