After months of speculation, Manchester City’s search for a defender is over with the signing of Rúben Dias.
Manchester City have reportedly finished the most dragged-out transfer saga in the club’s recent history with the acquisition of Benfica defender Rúben Dias. According to Fabrizio Romano, the deal is done at just over £50 million pounds, with Nicolás Otamendi going the other way.
The move taking this long before progressing to completion rapidly clearly indicates that City were targeting other options first, but I believe Dias was one of the best choices available. With height, leadership, strong defensive acumen and ball-playing ability, I believe Dias is the perfect fit to partner alongside Aymeric Laporte.
City reportedly made the same bid for Dias as they offered to Sevilla for Jules Koundé, which the Spanish club rejected. Many were hoping that City would sign the the Frenchman as their main target this summer, and while I believe he is a talented player, City got a much better fit for their team.
City’s goal with this summer signing was to bring in a player with experience, physicality, and leadership, and I believe Dias outclasses his rival in all three of these categories. Koundé impressed in this season’s Europa League, but has yet to make a Champions League appearance and has made just 29 La Liga appearances in his career. Dias is 6’2 compared to Koundé at 5’11, and after signing Nathan Aké earlier this summer, I believe it would have been unwise to sign two sub-6’0 defenders after struggling to cope with physical strikers and aerial battles last season.
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Finally, in what is expected to be Dias’ final game for Benfica yesterday, he captained his side, scored, and was close to tears after leading them to a victory over Moreirense. A story of that nature sounds very much like Vincent Kompany during his time at the Etihad. While I am not certain that Dias will have Kompany’s level of leadership and impact, he clearly holds the edge over a 21-year old who has very little experience.
I believe Laporte should not be asked to carry the load completely of the City backline as he was last season. Koundé is extremely talented, but Laporte would shoulder all of the responsibility of organizing the backline and leading the unit while easing in a very young player. Dias is still young at just 23, but I believe he will be viewed as an equal to Laporte and that they will shoulder responsibility together.
While it took much longer than what was initially hoped, City have secured the signing of a top young defender. Outside of Kalidou Koulibaly and perhaps Dayot Upamecano or Milan Škriniar, I believe City have found the best possible defender that fits the team well and has the chance to make a decade-long impact at the Etihad. With Otamendi also off the books, City have killed two birds with one stone and feel far more ready to truly challenge Liverpool than they did yesterday.