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Why Ruben Dias Will Be Crucial for Manchester City This Season

A look at the Portuguese’s latest struggles and why he will turn it around.

Manchester City v Fulham FC - Premier League Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

An introduction of Ruben Dias by the popular Wikipedia makes for good reading.

“Considered one of the best defenders in the world, he is known for his defensive prowess, leadership, and aerial ability,” the platform says. These are adjectives used in describing the very best of defenders in the game. One would expect such a player to play a crucial role to any top team’s success. The Portugal international has not failed in that regard.

He hit the ground running featuring prominently to help City win the Premier League title and the Carabao Cup in his first season with the club. The Blues also reached the Champions League final for the first time ever. His outstanding contributions to the team were rewarded with several awards.

These include being named Manchester City Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season and the UEFA Champions League Defender of the Season for the 2020/21 campaign.

Despite starting the season strongly with Erling Haaland breaking goal-scoring records, the team has recently been struggling to win games. That has allowed Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal to open a five-point lead at the top of the table. One of the decisions that may be hampering City’s performance could be the benching of Ruben Dias.

The 25-year-old has been left out of the starting XI in City’s last three League games. Coincidentally the Blues struggled against Leicester, Fulham and Brentford. Although the team was able to pick up maximum points against Leicester and Fulham with narrow victories, the defeat to Brentford laid bare an emerging problem.

Dias was injured at the beginning of the campaign, but is now fully fit to take his place at the heart of the defence. Fit enough to start the Carabao Cup games, the centre back should be a regular starter for league matches.

A player that won so many awards in a team that is full of outstanding talents is indeed special. He should be the first name on the team sheet as far as the defence is concerned. He cannot rank behind Aymeric Laporte, Manuel Akanji, John Stones and even Nathan Ake in the pecking order.

The likes of Akanji and Ake have started the season well with the former surpassing most people’s expectations. Yet, Dias remains number one among the central defenders. Hence, he should lead the way, especially in difficult matches.

With City losing ground in the title race, the manager will need to make some changes on resumption of the league next month. One of those will be reinstating Dias as the number one centre back in the team.

The 25-year-old gives the team much more than defensive solidity. He leads from the back and helps improve the team’s overall performance.