This current Manchester City team are regarded as one of the best teams to have ever played in English soccer. To improve upon that is going to be extremely difficult. Having said that, there are a few areas in which the Manchester club can improve and I believe that Pep Guardiola will address these positions in the summer.
Guardiola’s full-backs are an integral part of his system and I have already written a post giving an in depth analysis of Guardiola’s playing philosophy; which you can find it by clicking here. Manchester City has spent over $250 million dollars on their defense and the club needs to spend a few more dollars on a new left-back.
Benjamin Mendy was signed by Manchester City for over $50 million dollars as the Manchester Club believed that the Frenchman was the ideal full-back for Guardiola’s system. He is comfortable on the ball and has the fitness levels needed to negotiate the demands that Guardiola places on his players. This season, Mendy started exceptionally well. In the 13 games that he played, Mendy contributed with 6 assists and was starting to become a significant attacking threat from full-back. Mendy was thriving in Guardiola’s system.
However, injuries have plagued Mendy’s City career. In just two seasons, Mendy has suffered 6 injuries which has seen him miss a staggering 78 games.
Due to Mendy’s injuries, Guardiola has been playing a mixture of players at left-back and has even played Fabian Delph, a centre-midfielder, in the position. Though Mendy is only 24, there is no guarantee that he will overcome these injuries. Manchester City should invest in a new left-back.
Ben Chilwell: Leicester City (22)
The young full-back is only 22 years old and has already made his debut for the English national side. Chilwell is a superb talent and he has all the skills that Guardiola looks for in a full-back. Firstly, Chilwell is a fantastic passer of the ball, as his pass completion rate of 80.2% indicates, and this is a key skill required of a full-back in Guardiola’s system.
Also, his defensive numbers rank amongst the highest in the league as he averages 1.3 tackles per game, 1 interception per game and 3.3 clearances per game. Chilwell is a fantastic defender and these averages show that he has the ability to play for an elite side like Manchester City. Guardiola needs to address his issue at left-back and Chilwell is the player that Manchester City should target.
Fernandinho is one of the most important players at Manchester City. The Brazilian central-defensive-midfielder enables Guardiola’s system to work. Without going into huge amounts of detail, Fernandinho plays as a fixed central-defensive-midfielder and he provides cover for the full-backs. The Brazilian also protects the centre-backs and acts as the free-man when Manchester City initiate their offense.
Fernandinho is an unsung hero at Manchester City and Guardiola always speaks glowingly about the midfielder. Having said that, Fernandinho is approaching the twilight of his career and has suffered a few injuries in recent seasons. As he is 33, Guardiola and Manchester City should start thinking about Fernandinho’s replacement.
There are a few midfielders that have a similar skill set to Fernandinho and if I were Manchester City I would sign Ruben Neves.
Ruben Neves: Wolves (22)
Neves plays in a similar style to Fernandinho, as a fixed central-defensive-midfielder, and has all the abilities needed of a player who plays in Guardiola’s system. Though Neves’ pass completion rate is inferior to Fernandinho’s, 80.9% to Fernandinho’s 88.4%, the rest of Neves’ numbers are superior to the Brazilian’s.
Neves’ defensive numbers are better than Fernandinho’s as he averages more tackles per game, 2.1 to 1.7, and more interceptions per game, 2.3 to 1.7, than the Brazilian. Also, Neves has shown this season that he can make real contributions to his team’s offense. Neves has had a decent season in front of goal as he has scored 4 goals and has 2 assists to his name. However, his offensive averages are exceptional; especially when one remembers that he is a central-defensive-midfielder. The Portuguese international averages 2 shots per game and 0.8 key passes per game, a fantastic return from a player who operates within defensive positions.
The Portuguese international has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season and he is the perfect player to replace Fernandinho. He is an all-around midfielder and he would thrive at Manchester City.
Manchester City are so good that it is hard to see them dramatically improving. However, the two positions that have been highlighted above are areas in which Guardiola can improve his team.
Any suggestions, questions or comments then do not hesitate to get in touch! Remember, if you have any requests for future articles then you all you have to do is ask! Whether it’s about a manager’s tactical philosophy or an in-depth analysis about a specific player, if it is soccer related; I will look into it!