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Rúben Dias To Manchester City: Pep Guardiola Has Spent $500 Million On Defenders In 4 Years

Manchester City is on the cusp of signing Benfica center back Rúben Dias on a five-year contract for a fee of $64 million. Dias is expected to undergo a medical in the next few days. Nicolas Otamendi, also a center back, will move in the other direction for $17.5 million.

Dias’s arrival comes on the back of a humbling 5-2 home loss to Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday. It was the first time a Pep Guardiola team has conceded 5 goals and it is also two decades since Manchester City suffered the same fate.

Stats show that under Pep Guardiola Manchester City has had the best, or close to it, defensive record in the Premier League in three of the last four seasons. The reality, however, is that defending continues to be a damaging weakness. It’s something that Manchester City has looked to fix with a revolving door marked “defenders” feeding the clubs insatiable appetite.

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Nathan Aké, another center back, was signed from Bournemouth for $51 million in August and played on Sunday against Leicester. There were two other big money signings in the starting back four – Kyle Walker cost $58 million from Spurs in July 2017 and Benjamin Mendy $63 million from Monaco in the same month.

Eric Garcia, a 19-year-old signed from Barcelona in 2018, completed the defensive corps but he conceded a penalty kick as did Mendy. Garcia may be the next player to leave with a return to Barcelona a possibility.

Other defenders signed during the Guardiola years include:

  • Joao Cancelo $71.5 million from Juventus August 2019
  • Danilo $33 million from Real Madrid July 2017
  • John Stones $61 million from Everton August 2016

The only unquestionable success has been Aymeric Laporte who cost $72 million when he was transferred from Athletic in July 2018.

However, injuries and illness have restricted the French defender to 84 games in just under three years. A little over a year ago, Laporte suffered a serious injury to his right knee and this limited him to 20 games in 2019/20. He suffered another set back in the latest pre-season when he had to self-isolate after a positive Covid-19 test. Laporte may be back to full fitness by mid-October.

Guardiola and City fans must hope that Laporte’s time at the club will not mimic the injury problems that hit former captain Vincent Kompany. Kompany’s 11 seasons at Manchester City were blighted by injuries, particularly in his final four seasons, and he finally retired in May 2019.

But when he did play Manchester City was a far more resilient and resolute side.  

Not a new problem

The focus might be on Guardiola’s signings but acquiring effective and consistent defenders has been a problem for Manchester City since the club was bought by Sheikh Mansour in 2008.

Here is a selection of those who have gone before.

Jerome Boateng

If you did not know that Boateng played one season in 2010/11 you might think he would be the ideal solution for Manchester City’s defensive problems. Signed from Hamburg for $13 million he played just 16 games before leaving for Bayern Munich. Boateng was a World Cup winner in 2014 for Germany and is a two-times Champions League winner with Bayern Munich.

Eliaquim Mangala

Manchester City paid FC Porto $54 million for the player in 2014. In just his second match for City, he scored an own goal and gave away a penalty. He never recovered, and he made less than 80 appearances before being loaned out to Valencia and then Everton. He signed for Valencia in 2019 after City allowed his contract to run out.

Stefan Savic

Savic was just 20 and with less than 50 professional games to his credit when he signed in 2011 from Partizan Belgrade for $8 million. He played just 12 times for Manchester City before the club decided he was not the solution. He moved to Fiorentina and then to Atletico Madrid in 2015. At Atletico, he has matured into a dependable and unspectacular defender.

Joleon Lescott

Lescott was signed from Everton in 2009 for $30 million and played five seasons for Manchester City. He was part of the City side that won the 2012 Premier League in dramatic circumstances on the last day of the season. A series of injuries lead to inconsistency and poor form and he was allowed to leave in 2014.

Source: Forbes – Business

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