Why has Manchester City signed Manuel Akanji?
Many fans raised their eyebrows when they saw Manuel Akanji linked to Manchester City, especially considering the transfer came in unfamiliar fashion so late in the transfer window.
His name has been silenced around the Etihad through the summer months until murmurings crept up in August. The 27-year-old has been available all summer, with the player wanting a fresh challenge away from Germany and Dortmund keen to sell rather than lose him for a free next year.
City seems to have a good relationship with their Champions League opponents following the Haaland deal, and now this transfer, so you can understand the questions regarding the timings and the signing. Why could the deal not be made sooner?
The new number 25 will ultimately be vying for the first team with four centre-backs, potentially three, ahead of him, so a reported £17million fee could suggest a more significant role. Perhaps, a Champions League signing given that the schedule is squashed between some big Premier League fixtures.
We look at the potential reasons why Akanji is a Blue.
There is no doubt that the Swiss international, who has 42 caps to his name, has the quality to compete. He is tall and a been rated as a good passer, regularly brings the ball out of the defence in the Bundesliga, turning the ball around quickly.
Was a mainstay for Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Champions League so him performing on the biggest stage will be no issue for the 27-year-old, and not looking out of place in the process.
A typical Guardiola signing so he has no doubt he will fit into the squad perfectly, and one that Txiki Begiristain, City’s sporting director, rates highly claiming “he is everything we wanted’.
Injuries more serious?
Injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake are likely to have made the hierarchy look at adding a further centre back to the roster, despite them reportedly being back in training and returning in the next month.
Injury news from Guardiola is normally minimal, so could this signing indicate Laporte or Ake being sidelined for longer. He has given their expected returns with Laporte being the latter, so could the Spanish international being the one hampered by injuries going forward.
Knee surgery can be hit and miss, while many players of the age of Laporte facing possible complications in that area later in their career.
Memories of last year
City nearly lost the title race on the final day with veteran midfielder Fernandinho being used as a centre-half, and just two fit central defenders in the squad for the last two matchdays is not ideal ahead of an assault on four competitions.
The likes of Rodri and Kyle Walker potentially filling in at the back, should it come to it, is fine but that leaves us short in their positions.
They have coped so far, however the Champions League is just around the corner and Pep will be banking on his full squad come to the World Cup approach.
Switch to three at the back
Having more centre-back options could allow us to move three at the back, should injuries force us to adapt. That said, Pep has never manoeuvred away from the 4-3-3 shape that has been so successful.
He is unlikely going to sacrifice the thing that makes City so great – the attack and style of football. so, maybe this idea is a long shot.
Whatever the reasons, City fans will welcome the Swiss man with open arms, especially if he hits the ground running against Aston Villa or Sevilla in the coming week.