There is no denying the fact that Manchester City remains one of the most stocked teams in European football. The Sky Blues have at least two top-class players for almost every position. I say almost because there is one position that this is not quite the case - the defensive midfield. And yes, manager Pep Guardiola is good at obscuring any deficiency there is in his squad. When Benjamin Mendy got injured early last season, he converted midfielders Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabian Delph into makeshift left backs and they did quite well.
So far, despite having just one natural defensive midfielder in the team, it has barely been noticeable. Yet, the fact that the team could do much better with another one as back up makes it an important vacuum to fill.
Guardiola has been the first to notice. Hence, he has made attempts to find a suitable candidate. At one point it was the former Shakhtar Donetsk man, Fred. But the Brazilian chose instead to go to Manchester United. Then, attention shifted to former Napoli starman Jorginho. A deal was even said to be completed with the club. But the Brazilian-born Italian made a U-turn and followed his manager to Chelsea.
But City need another quality option in this position for different reasons.
Firstly, Fernandinho, good as he has been for the Cityzens is not getting any younger. At 33, the Brazilian cannot be said to be at his prime. Secondly, Pep is building a team for the future that can dominate England and even Europe in the years to come. And so there is need to have top quality young players in every position. So far so good, that much can be said of almost every position in the field. Again, except the defensive midfield.
Enter Frenkie De Jong.
The young Dutchman is one of the hottest properties in world football at the moment. Andthat is for good reasons. When the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus and even Tottenham are in pursuit of a player, it must be because he has a lot to offer.
At just 21, De Jong is already a Netherlands international. He is part of the group of players leading the resurgence of both Dutch football and Ajax, who finished second in the league last term. The youngster has made over 50 appearances for the club since joining from Willem II.
He made 22 league appearances for the Dutch giants last term and turned in a respectable seven assists. He was subsequently named in the Eredivisie team of the year.
In eight league games this season, he has averaged a 92℅ passing accuracy rate. That suggests he will fit right in with Guardiola’s style of play. Another advantage he will bring to the team is his ability to play both as a center-back and as a defensive midfielder.
Reports have it that Ajax want £71 million for their precious asset. But as per the Daily Star, Man City are ready to pay the full price to get the player. Should City beat Barca and the rest to the 21-year-old’s signature, that will represent good news for the Cityzens. De Jong will not only provide a long-term solution to City’s holding midfielder concerns but could also prove to be a vital asset for the club in future.