Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Manchester City Ready To Move For This Portuguese Fullback: But Pep Faces A Fight To Land Him

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Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan used to be the Featured Columnist at The 4th Official. Completely immersed in football and almost all other sports on planet.

Manchester City are reportedly ready to pose a tough challenge to archrivals Manchester United in the pursuit of Benfica’s star full-back Nelson Semedo as both the sides go on a mad spending spree to beef up their side this summer. The 23-year-old had a phenomenal season with the Liga NOS champions and is a top priority in the coming few months.

Among all the Premier League sides in dire need of a strong back line, City stands at the top. And Guardiola’s decision of not renewing contracts of ageing defenders, Bacary Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy further cemented it. Etihad is overseeing a massive overhaul this summer and Semedo would be an important addition.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss had a disappointing debut season in the English Premier League, with a third-place finish, the only achievement. Guardiola’s free-flowing tactics succumbed time and again to Premier League’s fast counter attacks and his defence had to take a large chunk of the blame.

While the likes of Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi did hold the spine to some extent, Guardiola’s experiment with Fernandinho and Jesus Navas on the right defensive flank was a clear indication that both Sagna and Zabaleta had failed to impress the boss. The Spaniard wouldn’t want such a situation to arise next season, and young Semedo could be a perfect inclusion.

The tireless and agile full-back played a significant role in Benfica’s title-winning season in Portugal as he looked unstoppable from the right flank whether on the offence or defence. He racked up a whopping 12 assists and two goals in all competitions for the Portuguese side. And his aversion towards injury makes him an, even more, cherished target.

The Lisboa-born player, quite surprisingly, made his big move to Benfica on a free transfer back in 2012. He had shown glimpses of his aggressive approach and superior technique at the back and Benfica sent him to loan soon after with CD Fátima, to get polished. He came back stronger and joined Benfica’s B team next year before he got his big break into the first team two years back.

The Manchester City boss seems immensely impressed by the player and is reportedly planning a bid to initiate negotiations. Although it is expected to be lesser than Benfica’s asking of a whopping £43.75 million, it will surely spark a bidding war.  Interestingly, Guardiola’s old club Barcelona also want him but wouldn’t splash more than £26.25 million.


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