Manchester City have already carefully mapped out their transfer plans for the next 18 months and have prioritised signing a top class defensive midfielder and centre-half as well as Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez as they target serial success under Pep Guardiola.

City will only move for Sanchez in next month’s transfer window unless circumstances absolutely demand it and prefer instead to wait until the summer to sign the Chilean, with Guardiola worried about unsettling the attacking balance in his team and dressing room harmony in pursuit of the Premier League title.

There are thought to be particular concerns about how Argentina striker Sergio Aguero would react if Sanchez arrived in mid-season and, beyond that and the wider harmony of the group, Guardiola believes the form of his front players, especially Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, has reduced the need for an imminent move for the Arsenal forward. City are currently 11 points clear at the top of the table.

Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, held a planning meeting with chief executive Ferran Soriano and chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak last Friday (Dec 15), at which they ironed out their transfer strategy for the next 18 months. City are refusing to entertain any quick four or five month fixes and are determined to ensure they guard against a repeat of a situation such as last summer, when they lost four full-backs in one go.

If City do business next month, it is likely to focus on the recruitment of a central defender, with Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk a preferred target ahead of West Bromwich Albion’s Jonny Evans and Inigo Martinez, of Real Sociedad.