Article by Reeves Guyton
With the World Cup kicking off today, we take a look at five City players who, for various reasons need a good performance in Russia
Since 2011, Sergio Aguero has been one of the top 5 strikers in the world and has consistently performed at the highest level for Manchester City. His achievements for Argentina are a different story. “I sometimes feel that I’m a bad player,” said Aguero when asked why he couldn’t transfer his Manchester City form to the international stage. “That doesn’t happen there [in England].”
While 0.4 goals per game (37 goals in 85 games) isn’t a disastrous return, it hardly compares to Kun Aguero’s 0.7 goals per game for City. For Argentina, Aguero has never scored a goal in the World Cup, and in the last two years he has only scored four goals. Although he didn’t get much playing time the last couple of months of the season, Aguero is expected to get playing time for Sampaoli. This was Aguero’s first year making it into the PFA team of the season and it’s possible he can make the World Cup team of the tournament if he can correct his international woes.
Unfortunately, Benjamin Mendy got injured four games into the season and only made seven appearances for Manchester City. Despite this, Mendy was chosen by Didier Deschamps to travel with France to Russia. So far in the friendlies, Mendy has traded starts with Lucas Hernandez but is expected to be one of the starting wing backs in Russia. He’s only made 4 caps for France and this World Cup will be a huge opportunity for Mendy to shine.
The German midfielder has missed two straight major tournaments for Germany including the 2014 world cup which Germany won. Gundogan had a decent year with City in his minimal playing time this season, but his critics are still loud. Joachim Low even pleaded to Germans to not boo him as he was booed nearly the entire time he was on the pitch in the friendlies (although not related to his abilities, some German fans still dislike him). He’s the only City player in the German squad after the surprising omission of Leroy Sane and needs a good performance. He doesn’t have the drop-off from club to country that Aguero does, but Gundogan is poised for a good performance coming off the bench.
Known as a “Tap-In Merchant”, Jesus is expected to be ahead of Firmino for Brazil come the group stages. Much like Gundogan, Jesus’s critics are fully ready to criticize him if he doesn’t perform. Jesus scored 17 goals in only 19 appearances this year for the Blues but many of them came in the 6 and 18 yard boxes which people use against him. Personally, I judge strikers on their ability to put the ball in the back of the net, and by many standards that makes Jesus a top striker, yet he isn’t recognized by most as one. If he can showcase his lethal strikes and great tracking ability in Russia, Jesus could finally get the recognition he deserves.
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne absolutely does not need a good performance in the World Cup, but he still is disrespected outside of Manchester City fans. For me, he was the best player in the Premier League and was the best midfielder in the world this season. On top of that, I believe he is the best midfielder in the world. It’s a controversial opinion but when you watch De Bruyne play, he is absolutely mesmerizing. So why do people still doubt him? The first reason is the club he plays for. Although Manchester City has been one of the best clubs in the world the last few years, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Paul Pogba all get huge boosts in the eyes of the public because they play for Real Madrid and Manchester United (2 of the biggest clubs in the world) respectively. I live in America and if you took a survey of 100 people at my school, maybe 10 would know De Bruyne while probably a third would know who Pogba, Modric, or Kroos is.
Fame isn’t the key to popularity but it certainly helps. The second reason is his flashiness. A lot was made about how Kevin De Bruyne registered only a few assists in the final games. If you’re just looking at the goals and assist numbers, De Bruyne had a poor run of form but watching the games you can clearly tell the impact he has on the game (My article on KDB disrespect will be out in the near future). So while De Bruyne doesn’t need a good performance in the World Cup, it could go a long way towards establishing himself as the best midfielder in the world and cementing Belgium among the top 3 teams in the world (according to FIFA rankings).