With the arrival of Wilfried Bony now imminent, I thought I would take a look at what the big Ivorian will be bringing to the club and where he will fit into the starting XI.
Manuel Pellegrini's preference for a front two is well documented, and ideally the Chilean lines up with the classic ‘big man little man' strike partnership. Taking into account that Sergio Aguero is a dead cert to start (when fit of course) then it seems that Bony will be rivalling Edin Dzeko and to a lesser degree, Stevan Jovetic for a starting berth.
So in that role, who is the most accomplished forward of the two?
In terms of out and out goal scoring, no-one has been as consistent as Bony in 2014. After success in the Netherlands and a slightly slow start to his Swansea career he has blossomed into an accomplished finisher and is able to score a wide range of goals, from inside and outside the box. He is also an aerial threat and despite not being the tallest, is able to dominate aerially through his hunger and physical strength. For the majority of his time at Swansea, Bony played as a lone forward and the quick attacking interplay of Swansea was geared around him, so he will have to adapt to a different system - although playing alongside intelligent players such as Aguero, Silva and Nasri should make things easier for him.
For a long period Dzeko divided opinion amongst City fans and to some degree he still does. He is very much a ‘form' player in that when he is bad he is very bad but when he is good he is very good! However, what cannot be disputed is his eye for goal and ability to weigh in with ‘heavy goals', as he has proven over and over again. Similarly, he is also capable of scoring a broad range of goals. With injury restricting his playing time, it does feel that Dzeko has yet to get up and running this season - now fully fit, he will be expected to step and perform over the next few weeks to get a head start whilst Bony is away at the African Nations.
Verdict - hard to separate the two! On form Bony edges it for his consistency over the last 12-18 months, but does he have the capability to deliver when it really really matters?
Hold up play / link-up play
As mentioned, there will undoubtedly be a period of adjustment for Bony, so accustomed to playing as a solitary forward and obviously bedding into a new team. Generally though and particularly so when he played at the Etihad earlier this season, the Ivorian's hold up play is excellent. Barrel chested and with thighs the size of tree trunks, Bony is capable of roughing up the hardiest central defenders. His link up play is intelligent and has improved considerably this season.
Dzeko's hold up play is largely underrated. There is frustration from some quarters that for such a tall player he perhaps isn't as physically imposing as he could be, but especially away from home and in Europe, Edin has shown that when he is fully firing, he is more than capable of holding his own against top defenders. However, I will criticise the fact that despite featuring together on many occasions, there has been a failure of understanding between Dzeko and Aguero. Indeed even in games where they have both featured and played well, this is largely in isolation of each other and they very rarely interlink.
Verdict - there are few stronger forwards than the Ivorian in the Premier League and whilst Dzeko doesn't get the praise he deserves, Bony is the better ‘target man' of the two
I was initially a little reticent about this deal, believing that the fee was high and that City would be better off saving the money to take a plunge on a world beating striker in the summer. However, after consideration, the fee (believed to be £25million rising to £28million) is in line with players of equal standing (Lukaku, Negredo) and Bony knows the Premier League well. At 26 too, he is approaching his peak. He will obviously have to make the step up in the Champions League, where Dzeko has had the experience and big game mentality to deliver over a number of seasons now. If Bony can hit the ground running upon his return from International duty however, I believe he is the more rounded forward over the two strikers and will assert himself alongside Aguero in Pellegrini's first choice line up.