The losses of Benjamin Mendy (ruptured ACL) Nicolas Otamendi (automatic one match suspension) and John Stones (4-6 weeks for a hamstring injury) have brought into sharp focus the concerns that I’ve recently written about here and here.
These concerns regarding City‘s potential Achilles heel (no pun intended!) are further magnified by the knowledge that despite the wonderful form of Delph this season and a gratifyingly solid performance against Leicester by the returning Kompany, both players are themselves notoriously susceptible to injury and cannot be relied upon for a full season, especially in a campaign to be waged on 4 fronts.
It appears that Guardiola is of a mind with many of the City faithful in his reluctance to invest a great deal of confidence in either Tosin Adarabioyo or Eliaquim Mangala as back-ups.
The problem with Mangala has never been a lack of effort or physical courage – indeed the Frenchman has always dealt very well with opposing strikers of the thuggish and borderline violent persuasion – rather it is the dangerous inaccuracy of his passes and the worrying lapses of concentration that lead to those unsettling fluctuations of blood pressure for supporters.
Adarabioyo performs creditably in Cup games against lower league opposition, however the evidence of Pep‘s eyes in training sessions over many months now has not yet convinced the coach to allow himself the luxury of granting Stones or Otamendi some much needed down time against Premier League opposition.
All of this means that two recent pieces of news/speculation in the media have combined to apply a cold moist flannel on the collective sky blue forehead.
First of all it looks like Guardiola is ready to take action in January.
Following Kompany‘s encouraging display, the coach was cautiously optimistic:
Of course, we have to take care of him [Kompany], we are trying to do that. He missed more than two months and a half because he played against Gibraltar with 0-9 in the score. We have to be careful in terms of how many minutes, how he feels, because he was out for two months and a half, and we missed him. It’s a risk to play him more and more, but now John Stones is out, we have a real, real problem in that position.
However on possible moves in January:
We’re going to discuss that… when January is coming, we are going to think about it, but not because John is in that position. To play in all the competitions, you need a bigger squad because the players don’t have time for regeneration before the next game.
Secondly, some opportunities for reinforcements have opened up involving one new entrant into the reckoning and the welcome (my opinion) return of another name.
Out of the bright blue sky, comes a report in The Sun which seeks to convince us that Guardiola may be interested in, wait for it, Patrick Van Aanholt.
The now 27 year-old Dutchman, as many will recall, is one of those promising Chelsea youngsters who was sent out on loan multiple times (in PVH’s case – 5 times between 2009 and 2014) before being sold on to a lower tier premier league club (Sunderland).
Van Aanholt was signed by Sam Allardyce (who, it must be said, knows a defender!) in January of this year for Crystal Palace on a four and a half year deal and has made 22 appearances for them thus far. He has 6 Senior Dutch caps.
A more exciting development though, has emerged in several outlets revolving around a more celebrated Dutchman, the Klopp-coveted Virgil Van Dijk.
The Mirror, along with several others are claiming that Southampton, still irritated by the Reds‘ illegal approaches for VVD in the summer would prefer to snub Liverpool again by choosing to sell Van Dijk to City.
Mercifully the name of ex-Stretford stopper Jonny Evans seems to have quietly been dropped by all parties.
Should City stump up the readies for VVD?
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