Manchester City has one of the deepest squads in the Premier League. Every position has a spare player ready to step in and do the job in cases of injury, poor form or suspension. Except for two positions; the defensive midfield and left back.
Bernardo Silva has been in top form this season. The former Monaco midfielder stepped in to make up for Kevin De Bruyne’s absence. Despite starting the season slowly, Gabriel Jesus has gotten off the mark scoring some fantastic goals in Sergio Aguero’s absence. When Kyle Walker suffered a deep in form recently, Danilo stepped up to the plate and ensured the right back remained a strong part of the team.
Unfortunately, there is no natural replacement for Benjamin Mendy on the other side of the pitch. The Frenchman is the only natural left back in the team. When fit, he has been Pep Guardiola’s trusted players in every key match. The problem is he is rarely fit.
Since moving to the Etihad Stadium, he has spent more time on the sidelines as a result of injuries than he has spent playing football. He is so rarely in the team that the Stewards mistook him for an encroaching fan when he ran into the pitch to congratulate his teammates after the Liverpool win.
With operations on both knees, the 24-year-old will likely face injury problems even when he returns to the pitch. Injuries aside, as with other positions in the team, it is still important to have a backup. Guardiola has resorted to the use of midfielders Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko to fill the void. But both players have often been a weak link in the team this season as they have been easily found out by the opposition.
While there has been much talk about the importance of finding a backup for defensive midfield position, same needs to be done for the left back.
Here are three viable candidates to consider in the summer.
1. Ben Chilwell
The year 2018 was Ben Chilwell’s. The 22-year-old emerged as one of Leicester City’s best players. He has been a regular in Claude Puel’s team and has always been outstanding. This has earned him a call-up to the national team by Gareth Southgate.
His performances for the Three Lions in key games in the Nations League proved he can have the position to himself for years to come. Signing a top-class English player will also be good for the team in terms of quota as the likes of Fabian Delph should be near the exit based on performance and age.
2. Lucas Digne
After playing second fiddle to Spanish left back Jordi Alba at Barcelona for years, Digne decided to leave the Spanish giants for Everton last summer. He gradually eased his way into Marco Silva’s team as long-term mainstay Leighton Baines locked down the position. But the French international has seized the position since coming into the team.
He has been so good for the Toffees that he was nominated for the PFA Player of Month award for November. Contributing three goals and two assists so far, he will fit right into Guardiola’s attacking style. He is energetic, pacy and a good crosser of the ball.
3. Junior Firpo
The 22-year-old Spaniard has been a revelation for Real Betis in the Spanish La Liga. He made headlines recently with an incredible display that helped Betis beat Barcelona at Camp Nou. After scoring the opening goal of the match, he also provided the assist for the winner in a 4-3 thriller. No wonder then that he has been linked with a move to a top European side including Man City.
Not only is he good in his primary responsibility at the back, he dashes forward constantly to contribute to the team’s attack. That has seen him chip in three goals and one in 15 La Liga matches this term.
At just 22, he would fit right in with the Catalan manager’s idea of building a team for the future.
The bottom line is that signing one of these players will not only provide necessary competition to bring out the best from Mendy, but will make the Sky Blues a stronger team all-round.