A team who have lost six of their last eight games, Manchester City are a shadow of the team that took the title last season.
Following a bruising 4-2 derby defeat to United, they were labelled complacent and undisciplined. Evidently they need to improve, but Pellegrini isn’t fully responsible.
Whether the Chilean remains beyond this season or not, the squad desperately needs refreshing - and here are five players that can do just that.
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1. Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan)
The 28-year old Colombian appears an ideal replacement for Yaya Toure, and could be used as a bargaining tool, given Mancini’s interest in the Ivorian.
Despite Guarin not being as much of a flair player; his passing success stands a full 10.1% lower than Toure’s, it’s his defensive and creative qualities which should attract Manchester City.
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Guarin has managed 6 assists in Serie A this season to Yaya’s one in the Premier League, while the Colombian’s six goals from midfield would be a handy contribution to any team. However, what is more marked is Guarin’s desire to defend; he has made on average 0.7 tackles more per game than Toure, and more than twice as many interceptions.
Finally, Guarin’s versatility should also make him a desirable target; he has played in six different positions this season, performing best as a central and central defensive midfielder.
2. Jordan Amavi (OGC Nice)
The 21-year old Frenchman is current playing for one of Ligue 1’s mid-table outfits, but his defensive performances have outdone City’s Gael Clichy this campaign. Amavi is weaker than Clichy when it comes to holding up the ball, but his greater aerial threat probably cancels that out.
Amavi’s dribbling and crossing are good, meaning he would be another player providing service to City’s many midfielders and strikers. His defensive activity is most impressive however, managing on average 4 tackles, 4.4 interceptions and 3.9 clearances per game.
At just 21, Amavi looks to have a big future ahead of him; if City sign him this summer, they could grab a bargain on a player with bags of potential.
3. Nicolas N’Koulou (Marseille)
A more reliable, consistent and probably cheaper centre-back, the 25-year old Cameroonian would be a good replacement for Eliaquim Mangala. The two are fairly similar; N’ Koulou has a highly impressive 90.8% pass accuracy, and has made on average more interceptions, clearances and blocks than Mangala in each of his games this season. N’ Koulou also has a greater aerial dominance.
Mangala’s key weakness is his lack of discipline and inability to consistently perform; for the £32m he cost City last summer, he has not been good enough.
4. Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid)
Not even Vincent Kompany can be considered irreplaceable now. The decline of City’s captain has mirrored the decline of the team, such that a bright 20-year old from Uruguay should definitely be on City’s radar for new, young centre backs.
Gimenez has outperformed Kompany in almost every defensive aspect this season, with more tackles, clearances and blocks on average per game; each player has the same number of interceptions.
Gimenez is aerially stronger and also more disciplined than Kompany, as shown by the Belgian’s tackle on Daley Blind during the derby, which should have earned him a straight red.
The only snag is that Gimenez certainly won’t come cheap, but selling Kompany would likely fund the signing, if City are conscious of Financial Fair Play.
5. Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen)
City’s midfield, for all of its undisputed flair has notoriously lacked a more ruthless goalscorer. Step forward Karim Bellarabi. The 25 year-old German has blossomed at Leverkusen this season, netting 11 goals and creating 7.
Jesus Navas would probably be the man replaced by Bellarabi; the 29 year-old Spaniard has contributed just a single League Cup goal, and the same number of assists as Bellarabi.
I don’t think it matters that Bellarabi’s pass accuracy would stand lower than the rest of City’s midfield, because he wouldn’t be there to play tiki-taka football with the likes of Silva; he would be a prolific, direct goalscorer and creator: a James Milner, but with greater attacking credentials. Now that sounds like a player City, or any other club, would want as part of their midfield.
All of these players improve City’s squad; they’re younger and statistically better for their respective clubs this season than the City players they would replace. However, I doubt Manuel Pellegrini will read this, so it will be interesting to see who City sign to revive their reputation as Premier League giants.