The new season is now within touching distance. Liverpool will kick off the new Premier league campaign against newcomers Norwich City on Friday August 9. The Merseysiders have one goal in mind this term: to knock Manchester City off their perch. But first, there is a little matter of the Community Shield to be settled on Sunday.
Pre-season preparations took Pep Guardiola and his team to the far East. First, it was for the Asia Trophy in China. Then, the team played some friendlies against the likes of Kitchee FC and Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan. It was all geared toward getting in shape for the new season. While some squad members missed out due to national team engagements. One man has been battling fitness after recently recovering from injury. Benjamin Mendy.
At a time when Manchester City players have been ramping up preparations for the new campaign, Mendy is still unsure when he will be ready for action. Injuries and fitness concerns have dogged the Frenchman’s time at City. In the two seasons he has spent at the club so far, Guardiola has had to convert midfielders to cover up for his frequent absence.
Fabian Delph did a fantastic job in 2017/18 as the team claimed the double. He was ably assisted by Oleksandr Zinchenko.
The Ukrainian stepped up his game and became first choice last term. Delph also played a role as Mendy featured just 10 times. For a player that remains one of the most expensive defenders in world football, much more is expected. His productivity when on the pitch shows just why City splashed the cash to get him. Five assists in 10 games is as good as it gets. A fit Mendy on the pitch provides a whole new dimension to the team.
Problem is, he is rarely available for selection.
Guardiola must have been quite frustrated by his absence. The Catalan-born manager is not one to stand by and watch his team suffer unnecessarily without taking action. Rumours began to circulate last term that the club was interested in acquiring a new left back. Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell was the man tipped to move to the Etihad Stadium. However, considering Leicester’s stance on sale of key players, that looked like a difficult proposition (unless City was prepared to spend another huge sum).
The club opted for a more suitable alternative. Left back Angelino, who was initially sold to PSV Eindhoven has been brought back from the Netherlands. The 22-year-old is excited by the development and has promised to stake a claim for the position and become the club’s first choice.
Speaking in an interview, he stated:
“It was always my objective to get back to the club - and it worked. I had the clause in the contract to come back so it was up to me to have a good season and see what happened.
“Thanks to the two seasons I had at Breda and PSV, I am here again. I started here at City so that was my main focus. I think I have improved. I’m not the same player I was when I was here before. Now it is my aim to play as much as I can and enjoy everything I can.”
It remains to be seen if the young Spaniard will deliver performances that will impress the manager. If that happens, Mendy’s place in the team could come under threat unless his injury problems come to an end soon.