The most expensive central defender in history… he is not a central defender under Guardiola

Amid the ‘crisis’ that Manchester City are currently experiencing, there is a surprising element to Pep Guardiola’s approach to a squad full of stars. Is about Josko Gvardiol, one of the “Galacticos” who joined the “Cityzen” team last summer: The 90 million euros that RB Leipzig earned made it the most expensive center in history This means they surpass Harry Maguire (87 million), De Ligt (85) or Van Dijk (84).

And Guardiola, far from arriving and settling into his natural position as a starter, has, on the contrary, transformed it. The “metamorphosis” of the young 21-year-old Croatian defender is a reality that the Santpedor coach hinted at during Gvardiol’s first appearances in the Premier League and which ultimately took place: Today he is the closest thing to Manchester City’s starting left-back.

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Although we have seen in several parts of the season Nathan Ake After taking up the position of full-back or ‘false’ left-back in a three-man defense, it now appears that the Croatian has taken the lead. And while the Dutchman seemed to adapt, Gvardiol has a harder time. This is his heatmap in the league so far this season, after 11 games played:

If we take a look at his positioning in the Premier League this season, It is clearly visible how the Croatian moves throughout the left lane. Guardiola uses his good ball control with his left foot and has found a slightly more defensive profile for this area, which gives him more freedom Jérémy Doku or Jack Grealish for this band.

However, Gvardiol doesn’t quite adapt. There were many Manchester City fans who took advantage of the team’s drop in performance and accused the Croatian of not acting in his natural position. and have to put in so much effort to adapt to an area where they are not completely comfortable. Another footballer is Manuel Akanjimoved from the defense to the pivot area next to Rodri.

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A “patch” to solve a big problem

Regardless of whether the new “bet” on Guardiola pans out or not, this transformation back from Gvardiol masks a shortcoming that Manchester City have suffered from in recent years. The left defender, the “Achilles heel” of a practically perfect team. Today, Sergio Gomez He is the only real footballer in this position and hardly takes part.

Since Kolarov’s departure in 2017, countless left-backs have moved to Manchester City, none of which have managed to settle and end the debate in this area. Fabian Delph, Danilo, Zinchenko (now successful at Arsenal), Mendy, Cancelo (rehabilitated at Barça)… among many other failed projects.

Be that as it may, it appears that Guardiola will have to concentrate his efforts on restoring security to a defensive line that is losing momentum over time. Gvardiol is suffering, but he is not the only one. A team used to being a “wall” has conceded 11 goals in the last five games. It’s time to pull yourself together.

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