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Opinion: Leicester humiliation highlights why Manchester City's defence needs more than just Ruben Dias

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City were ripped apart by Leicester City
ANALYST
Modified 28 Sep 2020, 18:59 IST
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It’s been a while since we saw a Pep Guardiola side collapse as easily as Manchester City did against Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

In so many ways, this game highlighted the difference between the current Man City side and the one that last won the league in 2018/19. While the league-winning team was a capable unit built on defensive solidity, the current side is just a pale shadow.

Back then they had Vincent Kompany, the man whose thunderbolt against Leicester in that 2018/19 season ultimately ensured that City won the league.

Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick as Leicester City beat Man City 5-2
Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick as Leicester City beat Man City 5-2

Against Leicester, however, they had nothing close to the legendary Belgian. Kyle Walker was reverted to right-back, having played in central defence in his previous games. The left-back position was also reserved for Benjamin Mendy, whose lack of concentration is no secret.

Nathan Ake was forced to play in the centre of defence, partnering with the shaky Eric Garcia.

That is why despite taking an early lead, City ended up being routed 5-2, thanks to a hat-trick from Jamie Vardy and strikes from James Maddison and Youri Tielemans. Riyad Mahrez and Ake’s goals only served as consolation.

City indeed missed a lot of players – the club played with no recognized striker as both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are out injured – but their defensive frailties are most worrying.

Fortunately, the club is trying to fix the situation, with the signing of highly-rated centre-back Ruben Diaz from Benfica confirmed. The Portuguese defender will add a lot to City's shambolic backline, but he alone cannot solve team's defensive problems.

It’s been two years since Kompany left. At their best, City have one of Europe’s most lethal attacks, but they are not going to be challenging for top honours without a solid defence.

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Manchester City must sign Kalidou Koulibaly

Kalidou Koulibaly will greatly improve Manchester City
Kalidou Koulibaly will greatly improve Manchester City's defence

Manchester City must, therefore, add another quality centre-back to their ranks, with Nicolas Otamendi on his way out. While a couple of options have been mooted, the club must go all out to get Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Senegalese defender could be their own Virgil van Dijk and will bring the defensive solidarity that Guardiola’s side has lacked for some time now.

The 5-2 humiliation by Leicester is a timely reminder that Manchester City needs a leader at the back. Fernandinho has often been drafted as a make-shift centre-back, while Walker has also frequently been made to readapt to the position.

The centre-back pairing of Diaz and Koulibaly will definitely bring the solidarity that Manchester City's defence needs.

The season will be long, but Manchester City need to solve their defensive problems sooner rather than later - and Koulibaly could be the solution.

Published 28 Sep 2020, 18:59 IST
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