Monday, February 6, 2023

Manchester City Close In On This French Defensive Beast: Why He Will Be A Crucial Signing

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Soham Dwibedi
Lives, breathes and dreams football. To reiterate the words of Bill Shankly, "some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that."

“Three players have left — Dirar, Valere and Bernardo,” Leonardo Jardim told reporters. “Other players could leave us.

“Everyone knows our project. It hasn’t changed, even if we have won the title. The project is the same. The goal is still to win.

“Nothing has changed. It’s very important for us. What matters is the training of the young players and the quality of our game.

“The only thing that changes is that we are going to start the season being defending champions.”

It was no secret last season that the brilliant Monaco team with its superlative performances mesmerising Europe was going to be picked apart come July.

The players knew as much and played their swan song for Monaco with elan resulting in a Ligue 1 win toppling PSG and a semi-final finish in the Champions League, knocking out many a European Giant along the way, only to be halted by Allegri’s Juventus.

The latest to join the bandwagon is the 22-year-old Benjamin Mendy with reports doing the rounds of an imminent transfer to Manchester City. The Frenchman began his career with second tier side Le Havre, before joining French giants Marseille.

It was under the enigmatic Marcelo Bielsa that he really flourished. Bielsa’s counter-attacking brand of football unlocked the left-back’s attacking potential, showcasing his will to go forward as much as defend. 

His superior crossing ability to unlock defences and his use of pace to channel an attacking outlet through the wings highlight why it would be easy to cast him in Guardiola’s preferred inverted full-back role.

With the release of Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta, it is easy to see why City are looking to spend almost €45m on the full-back. Monaco have reached an agreement to sign Feyenoord’s Terence Kongolo (£13m) in a bid to replace the City-bound Mendy.

The Sky Blues are also interested in recruiting Dani Alves in an attempt to shore up their defence after a disappointing start to Guardiola’s maiden Premier League season that saw them finish third behind Chelsea and Tottenham.

Having already announced the capture of Bernardo Silva from Monaco and Alexis Sanchez rumoured to be on the way, City have announced their intent in bold letters. City are also looking into Tottenham’s Kyle Walker with 4 years still left on the right-back’s contract. City are baulking at Spurs’ £50m valuation of the player with negotiations expected to be tediously protracted.

Mendy has been one of the integral cogs for Monaco’s path-breaking season last year. Besides proving to be a solid presence at the back, he has been phenomenal going forward, clocking up 5 crucial assists along the way in Ligue 1 alone.

In a season where Monaco scored a whopping 107 goals, it was easy to see why Mendy fit perfectly in their free-flowing attacking football. The fact that the Frenchman held his own in Europe as well, against tougher continental competition, augurs well for Guardiola’s City side who would be looking to better their performances in Europe.

One of the main reasons why Guardiola was brought in at City was to oversee a successful challenge at the European level. Despite years of pumping money in the club, the Citizens have consistently punched under their weight in Europe’s premier competition.

Last season showed glimpses of what Pep brings to the table having dispatched Barcelona 3-1 at the Etihad. City’s chances this year seem bright if the Catalan tactician can plug the holes in defence which proved to be their downfall last season.

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