Who Will Be Manchester City’s Defensive Midfielder?

Who Will Be Manchester City’s Defensive Midfielder?

Fernandinho is obviously the first choice – for now. But what can we expect from him this season, considering he has just played +3500 minutes plus the World Cup and he is now 33 years old? Can he stay more or less injury free again and show that high level of consistency? I have my doubts.
I think his level dropped a bit by the end of the season and he looked like a shadow of himself at World Cup and in pre-season – maybe he has lost that yard of pace that destroys careers, maybe I am reading too much into it. It could obviously just be fatigue.


What did Fernandinho offer last season?

It might be a surprise to some, but Fernandinho won the most headers per game for Manchester City. His aerial ability is very underrated because he does not look like a massive guy.
manchester city aerials won

Fernandinho offered a lot more than that, I just wanted to highlight his aerial ability. Fernandinho’s engine and his willingness protect the backline made him one of the very best defensive midfielders last season. He offered consistency – I do not recall many bad matches last season.


Did We Really Need a DM?

Hell yeah. Yaya Toure left. We were going for Fred in January and Jorginho during the summer, so obviously Pep thought that we needed a new DM. I wrote a bit more about it yesterday in my “Rating Manchester City’s 2018 Summer Transfer Window”-article.


The Solution?

İlkay Gündoğan
He played a few matches as DM for us last season to cover for Fernandinho and did well against decent teams, but I do not trust him to do it all season, and it seems like Pep does not either – why would he want to sign a DM if Gundogan was fine? And why has Pep not mentioned Gundogan as cover during the pre-season matches when he has basically name dropped everybody who could play there?

Fabian Delph
I like Delph as a LB, but I do not think he is “smart” enough to be a DM in a Pep team. He is perfect at LB.

Oleksandr Zinchenko
Some decent cameos here and there at LB, but he has not convinced me that he is the guy to protect our DM. He played there a bit in pre-season, but to me pre-season is just fitness matches, you can not really judge players on it. I do not see him as more than just a squad player for cup matches, he is a likeable guy and all, but it does not quite match his quality – not a City level player to me.

I remember Danilo playing DM last year in pre-season and he actually did surprisingly well, but there must be a reason why Pep do not think that he can do it? He went from “Mr. Versatile” to “Backup RB” in a heartbeat.

Philippe Sandler

John Stones
The guy I think can do the job. I think he has more similarities to Weigl than people realize and I actually think that he can surpass him.
On top of that, Stones is not bad in the air and good with the ball. He still has that odd mistake in him and by moving him further up the pitch, it might be less costly.
His engine might be a worry, but I really just see him as a 3rd CB moving ahead of the other two CBs. He will just be more involved in the action and not only when we get counter-attacks against us.
We already have great CBs in Kompany, Otamendi and Laporte, why not give it a shot?

I can see Stones start counter-attacks as a DM like he did for the 2nd goal vs Chelsea in the Community Shield (although he played CB when it happened IIRC):