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Expectations For 14/15: Matija Nastasic

A fine prospect who had an outstanding debut season at the age of just 19. Then came the second season slump, then the rumours of injury problems, the on-field struggles with new systems, and now, a potential exit from the club.

Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports

This is the fresh news today:

Good God!


Ok, slow down. Is Nastasic going to be sold?

Hmm, I would like to think not, but there's a lot of smoke.

Why would he be sold?

A second season slump, some injury problems and, potentially, a lack of trust in his abilities. But we will get to that later.

Fine, how good is he?

I think he is an excellent defender, who at a very tender age was able to play against the best CL and PL players and not look out of place. And he did that while just 19/20 years of age.

How good will he be in the future?

Difficult to tell; players need to be willing to learn and apply themselves, coaches need to be able to teach and reach players as individuals in order to help them develop. Have all these things happen in regard to Nastasic? Who knows, but they should be happening and they probably have.

Strengths: quick enough, calm feet, an even calmer head under pressure. Rarely beaten one on one, positionally sound.

Weaknesses: could sometimes get too tight, unsure when to step out, struggles with the high line and MP's system, and looked like he had issues with his confidence.

The weaknesses could be attributed to any young player?

Yep. It is difficult to know what the future holds but the ability to play in one of the best league's at such a young age is usually a giveaway on future potential.

How so?

If player X can perform at 19 yo in a very tough league whilst playing the difficult position of CB, then he should, if coaching/willingness to learn/no injury issues are all fine, become an accomplished player.

It is very unlikely that a players peak years are 19 and 20. It has happened, but it is rare in cases where serious injury isn't the cause.

So why would Man City consider selling him?

Maybe they won't sell him,  maybe it's all just bulls...

Answer the question?

  • Injury concerns.
  • A Madrid/Morata type sale to get him game time and development time while still retaining the ability to bring the player back in 2 years time.
  • An inability to fit into the system.
  • An as yet unseen fundamental flaw in his game.
  • Desperately wants to leave.
  • Man City believe there is a player in-house, or due to arrive,  that is his vast superior.
Are any of these the cause of the exit rumours?

  • Maybe.
  • Could be.
  • Should be taught if he is struggling.
  • I haven't seen it.
  • Leave to where? Italy, does he love Italy that much? Does anyone?
  • Unlikely. Only Rekik and Denayer could be billed as genuine prospects at this moment. Both players seem years away from the ability Nastasic showed at age 19/20 in playing in the CL & PL. But what of Mangala.
If there is no major flaw in his game why the rumours?

Maybe City have received an amazing offer. Maybe Pellegrini doesn't like young CB's. Maybe the rumours aren't true.

Will Nastasic be sold?

I don't think so, and I will be upset if I am wrong. If Nastasic was to be sold City would have Kompany  to play on the right side and Mangala (if signed) to play on the left. Demichelis would be the only senior, specialized cover in the CB position. That isn't enough cover. Garcia or Sagna can't play there full-time.

It really makes no sense to me to sell the player. The only real reason to move Nastasic on is if the club believe Rekik is his superior for the #2 left CB spot. All this assumes Rekik wouldn't be better served going out on loan once more.

All very messy, really.

Yeah. The rumours don't feel right, but that doesn't mean a sale won't happen.

Would his exit be the wrong decision?

I think so, unless there is no room and we don't yet understand what we have in Rekik (unlikely).

How many games will he play?

Er, 10....if he stays.

10 games is a problem for a young center back?

Yep, now we come to the heart of the argument. This is what I was saving for the very end. If City sign Mangala, who is just two years Nastasic's senior, then when, where, and how is Nastasic ever going to get sufficient game time in order to develop as a player and keep himself satisfied.?

A young center back may wait patiently for a man like Demichelis to depart, but that same young center back surely cannot wait patiently whilst a man two years his senior plays 30+ league games per season.

Nastasic cannot play the right side and Mangala's arrival dictates that he cannot play the left side with any great regularity, so where would the young Serb get game time that would keep player and club happy? A: not with Man City.

Would a Nastasic sale merely be a case of ensuring you get a fee for a player while he has some value? If Mangala signs then surely it is because Man City believe that Nastasic will never get to that same level. If Man City genuinely believed Nastasic could be an elite #1 CB then they would wait for him, no?