Paul Merson has claimed that opponents are genuinely “scared” when they try to take on Manchester City defender Ruben Dias one-on-one.
The 23-year-old centre-back has been a colossus in the backline during his first year at the Etihad Stadium, and has turned out to be an inspired signing from Benfica.
He’s helped Man City to move within touching distance of the Premier League title. A win against Leeds United on Saturday will edge them ever closer.
There are so many superstar names at the Etihad, but the Portuguese defender has been the glue keeping it together this year.
Pundit Merson has raved about the impact of Dias on Man City, as well as his overall ability.
“If you take Dias out of that team they would miss him more than anybody. Players are scared to take him on,” Merson wrote for the Daily Star.
“To make City as solid as they are now, and make John Stones as good as he is now, bar that mistake for England, is some going.
“As a former forward I don’t like giving player of the year to a defender – but he won’t be far away. He’s their most important player.”
As far as best summer signings, Man City’s deal for Dias at the beginning of this season has to take the crown this year.
His authority at the back and the way he always looks like he’s in full control is admirable. Additionally, he fits the Pep Guardiola mould with his comfort with the ball at his feet.
There are certainly fair comparisons to be made with the way Virgil van Dijk helped transform the Liverpool backline when he moved to Anfield, which ultimately helped the Merseyside club win both a Premier League and Champions League.