Once one of the most hyped young defenders in Europe - Manchester City centre back Eliaquim Mangala just hasn't lived up to his £32 million price tag at the Etihad stadium. Football fans and pundits alike can boil this down to a number of reasons: the price paid was outrageous, he's young and inexperienced, he's just not suited for the Premier League or he needs more time to adjust.
Whilst all these reasons have a logical claim, there's one cause that stands out above all the rest: inconsistency. Make no mistake, the 24-year-old has had a torrid season for the Citizens. After-all, for most part of the campaign he was battling his ageing counterpart, Martin Demichelis, for a place in the team. However, when City skipper Vincent Kompany was left out the side due to injury, Demichelis and Mangala would form a shaky but sturdy partnership in the centre of defence.
These periods of partnering the 34-year-old Argentinian at the back can only be good for Mangala.
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As the Frenchman seeks help for playing in the most entertaining league in the world, Martin Demichelis can no doubt deliver that help. Emulating an experienced defender like Demichelis will be a fantastic asset for the centre-back, to not only teach him but also to improve his most glaring weaknesses.
For example, the Argentine possesses the one trait Mangala needs the most, composure on the ball. A familiar site last year was watching the French centre-back often hooking and clearing balls away under pressure, unlike Demichelis who can keep a cool head and pass under pressure from an opponent.
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As stated, it's clear Mangala hasn't lived up to his glorious reputation, but there is one sole performance where you got to see the young defender at the very top of his ability: in the 1-1 draw between City and Chelsea at the Etihad back at the very start of the last campaign.
This particular match had the Blues faithful roaring in expectation at the Frenchman, after Mangala and Kompany's domination of Diego Costa at the back was beautiful to watch. Intercepting play, running from the back in possession, aerial domination, it was almost like he'd been playing at the Etihad for years. The trick for the Frenchman is to keep repeating these displays regularly.
So, a good message to City fans would be not to give up hope on the young centre-back just yet: still young and with many years ahead of him, he will learn from last season's nightmare and move on a better and more experienced player.
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