As was witnessed in the 2-leg cup tie against Huddersfield and on several other occasions this season, Jesus Navas and Nolito are pretty poor stand-ins for the dynamic Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane.
After a promising start, Nolito has dropped off the universe since before the turn of the year allegedly on account of poor performances in training.
We also know that out-of-contract Jesus Navas has not been renewed.
Neither will be mourned too much by City fans.
Fast as Navas was, his final ball usually hit the first defender, the post or simply shot off into the night sky and Nolito will be better remembered for hugging his own teammates while greeting opponents with the old glasgow kiss rather than his early good play and eye for a goal.
Now that Carlo Ancelotti has apparently ruled out the sale of Kingsley Coman, who are the runners and riders to replace these two substitute wing-huggers? Do we really need to replace both or will just one be enough?
One school of thought is that Pep Guardiola has no need to replace either: simply recall homegrown kid Patrick Roberts for one side and keep Sergio Aguero so that Gabriel Jesus can fill in on the other. However while Roberts does look set to return at some point, it’s unlikely that Sterling would be a mere stand-in for ‘The Watermelon‘.
Others have mentioned Dortmund sprinter Ousmane Dembele although the young French international only signed a 5-year contract last year and is the provider-in-chief for Mr. Aubameyang at Signal Iduna Park.
The Blue‘s own theory is that substitutes of this nature will not be needed when we buy a couple or three flying fullbacks in the mould of Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy. This will leave Pep free to buy more orthodox attacking midfielders like Bernardo Silva and Alexis Sanchez.
Guardiola shares Arsene Wenger’s fascination with fleet-footed young chaps who can place a pass through the eye of a needle as we learned when he stated:
“I love the midfield players. I would like to have a thousand midfield players in my squad, in my team because I believe the midfield players are intelligent and understand the game. They understand back and they understand forward. You can win the games with good defenders and good strikers, but to play good, you need midfield players.”
There now. Problem solved.
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