Which of Manchester United's and Manchester City's new wingers will have the biggest impact?
The Manchester clubs will be in close competition for the foreseeable future. With seemingly endless resources, superb facilities and two of the world’s finest managers, the rivalry is only going to grow more competitive.
Both City and United have outrageous financial capabilities, and this transfer window is the beginning of a project for both sides. Both Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are looking to create a squad in their image and neither club is shying away from spending big.
Signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan for around £30 million is a statement of intent from Jose Mourinho. The Armenian had an outstanding season at Borussia Dortmund last campaign, chairing the club’s resurgence after the appointment of innovative new coach Thomas Tuchel. 11 goals and 15 assists placed the 27 year old at the top of the Bundesliga assists table over the campaign.
Leroy Sané may be eight years younger than Mkhitaryan, but the impact he had in a struggling Schalke side last season cannot be understated. While the Royal Blues languished to a fifth-placed finish, Sané set the league alight, scoring or assisting more than a quarter of his team’s goals in the Bundesliga in just 23 starts.
The modern winger has more responsibilities than solely attacking. Jose Mourinho is well known for asking a lot of his players physically. Attacking players have strict defensive responsibilities to adhere too, and Mkhitaryan will be no different.
Perhaps fortunately for Mourinho, his new £30 million man is no stranger to that contributing in all areas of the pitch. In the Bundesliga last season, the winger managed almost two tackles and two interceptions per game. His contribution helped Dortmund concede the second least goals in the entire season, only falling short of the ever dominant Bayern Munich.
That particular Bayern side were unbelievably solid defensively throughout the campaign, only conceding once every two games. While the incredible quality of the squad plays a part, Pep Guardiola’s ground breaking methods and almost scientific approach to the game created one of the best defences in the world.
Part of that innovation was how he utilised the wingers in his squad. He often deployed wide-men with different responsibilities, including the need to track back and defend deep and wide, or even slot into the midfield and increase numbers to maintain possession.
Sané was more of a direct winger at Schalke last season, his responsibilities were limited and the demands placed on him were much less than what Guardiola demanded of his wide men.
The German prodigy is young, and while youth often comes with inexperience, there would be no better coach for the young German to develop his footballing intelligence under.
The advantage of young players is that they are often more impressionable, and if Guardiola can provide the right tutelage for Sané, he will grow to fit the system that the manager will seek to cultivate at City.
Both wingers were incredibly important to their respective teams last season, and that importance is matched as signings for their respective new clubs. City and United were severely short of quality in wide areas, but these transfers have moved towards rectifying that.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan will likely have the most immediate impact, with his incredible passing ability and lethal touch in front of goal. With Leroy Sané, however, City have a seriously talented investment for the future on their hands. If he continues to grow at the rate he has in the last season or two, then he will be a mainstay in the Premier League for the next decade at least.
Featured image: All rights reserved by ine wstyles