Guardiola to Manchester City is some of the most exciting news in the English game in recent years. The ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager seems to blaze a trail of success wherever he goes, winning titles left, right and centre. A manager of his credentials coupled with the talent and financial resources available at the club should, on paper, be a recipe for further success.
Truthfully, though, it won’t be as simple as that. The City squad, while immensely talented, seems to have aged rapidly over the last season. Key players like Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov are getting into their thirties now and were starting to show the fatigue caused by the intense domestic and European schedule of top Premier League teams. Guardiola has a massive rebuilding effort on his hands and his defence is where he, alongside Director of Football Txixi Begiristain, should start.
At the start of the season, City looked rock solid at the back. Captain Vincent Kompany was in the form of his life and, partnered with France international Eliaquim Mangala, provided a rock solid foundation for the Citizens unstoppable attacking forces to build on. Prior to Kompany’s injury against Juventus on September 15th, City didn’t concede a single goal. For the rest of the season, with Kompany frequently injured, they looked a much weaker defensive unit. It took until late December for City to keep a clean sheet without Kompany in the line-up.
While Nicolas Otamendi began to justify his £28.5m transfer fee towards the end of the season, City’s other defenders simply weren’t up to standard. Without Kompany beside him, Mangala looked lost in near every game he played, and Martin Demichelis was without a doubt a complete liability. With Demichelis unlikely to be offered a new contract and Mangala being linked to a move away from the Etihad, City will be in the market for a new centre-back.
Guardiola asks for more of his central defenders than most managers in the game right now. They need to be very comfortable both on the ball and playing a pass, while also fulfilling the more traditional aspects of the role. While you would expect most professional footballers to be capable of that, two young central defenders seem to ideally suit what Guardiola will look to build at City. After reading both options over the next couple of pages, leave your thoughts in the comments section below, including whether you think there is an even better alternative out there.