Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola can take great pride in a job well done over the last few years. The club brought in a manager with a proven track record as a winner and the Catalan boss has taken the team a notch higher in terms of performance during his time in charge. What remains is much sought-after success in Europe. To achieve this, he has consistently reinforced the team with top players that can get the job done.
Other gems have been let go during that time, the likes of Jesus Navas and Jadon Sancho mainly for failing to meet the manager’s standards for the first team. Then there is another group led by Angelino.
The Spaniard was supposed to be content with a place on the bench, playing occasionally when the need arose. But having tasted regular first team football with PSV Eindhoven, including playing in the Champions League with the Netherland side, there was no going back. So he sought for a way out.
German Bundesliga side RB Leibzig provided the perfect opportunity. The left-back hit the ground running from when he arrived there in January. A goal and 4 assists helped the side finish strongly in both the league and on the continent. Manager Julian Nagelsmann was impressed and could not hide his appreciation for the player.
“I have to admit, he arrived after working under a great manager,” Nagelsmann told reporters. “I can’t just praise myself. He came as a well-developed player.
“We haven’t brought many players in from Pep Guardiola, yet, so we can’t draw a comparison. But his adaption time was minimal, as he arrived from a great team and a great manager, who surely taught him something.
“He is inquisitive, listens and implements things, as he is a great footballer with an instinct to play.”
It’s understandable then that the German gaffer sought an extension of Angelino’s stay at the Red Bull Arena. A season-long loan deal was structured obligating Leipzig to buy the full-back at the end of the campaign for €18 million (£16m/$21m) should he make 12 appearances. At least five of those are required to come in the second half of the campaign.
Given how important the 23-year-old has become to Nagelsmann, he is as good as a Leipzig player now. It will be surprising if there is any other outcome at the end of the season. In fact, the deal could be finalised early into the new year.
With four goals in six appearances for the German side, including scoring the two goals in the Champions League win over Istanbul Basaksehir on match day one, the Spaniard is at the top of his game. As with Angelino, the team is also thriving and has so far recorded six wins out of seven games in all competitions.
In contrast, City have had a difficult start to life in the Premier League this term. And a key problem area in the squad is the left-back position. Interestingly, there are few left-backs around Europe who are in better form than Angelino right now. One can only imagine how valuable he would have been for Guardiola if the Catalan boss had rated him.
It is surprising that despite Angelino’s work-rate and pressing, which helped him recover possession six times against Basaksehir last week as well as his willingness to get forward and create chances, qualities Guardiola demands from his full-backs, Pep was not impressed.
This is a player that has distinguished himself from his youth days at Deportivo La Coruna’s youth setup. He was constantly linked with a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona before joining City in 2012.
Unfortunately, Leipzig’s gain is Man City’s loss at the moment. Benjamin Mendy has continued to struggle with injuries. Even when the Frenchman is fit these days, his performance leaves much to be desired.
Guardiola will need to find a long-term solution as the team continues to suffer at left-back. There’s only so much quick fixes using Oleksandr Zinchenko, Joao Cancelo and even Nathan Ake out of position can do.