Manuel Pellegrini looks to have completed his summer spending by signing French center-back Eliaquim Mangala from FC Porto for a reported fee of 32 million pounds. With the move Pellegrini adds much needed depth to his defense as the Citizens prepare to defend their EPL title as well as make a strong push for success in the UEFA Champions League.
Mangala is known for his strength and speed, as well as an extremely deft touch. His ability to control the ball and his sharp smart passes set him apart from other center-backs, and he should be able to distribute the ball quickly and effectively to the City midfield. Defensively he draws comparisons to fellow French center-back, Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny as both share an aggressive “on the ball” play style. However Mangala does not share his countryman’s level head; drawing 13 yellow cards and one red card last season alone. His poor decision making was part of the reason that he found himself spending the entire World Cup on the bench. The left footer netted five times for Porto last season across all competitions, and is expected to pose an aerial threat off of City’s set pieces.
With talk of Vincent Kompany’s 6-year-contract extension, Mangala is poised to form a long term partnership with the City captain in the center defense; a position that has been left vacant by a revolving door of stars that haven’t lived up to their prime time billing. City’s defense last year looked lost when the captain wasn’t on the field, and this signing adds a young experienced defender for Pellegrini to select. Mangala’s prime competition for play time looks to be the aging Martin Demichelis, as rumors continue to swirl about Matija Nastasic’s potential transfer to Arsenal FC, and Dedryck Boyata is slotted for a spot on the bench.
This is just one of many off-season moves that show Pellegrini’s true intentions for this season: Champions League success. City allowed just 37 goals in the Premier League last season, and had a shocking +65 goal differential. It is clear that the pieces that were already in place when Pellegrini took over were enough to win another EPL title, they simply lacked a deep enough bench to carry the team across all competitions. With the signing of Mangala, Pellegrini is solidifying his team’s back-line to not only defend their EPL title, but make a strong push into the Champions League tournament with hopes of playing in May at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.