As Nicolas Otamendi nears his big move to the Premier League, it looks like one of Manchester City's big money signings is heading the other way. Having finally found his feet in the Premier League Eliaquim Mangala could be off again. The question is, why?
When Mangala made a big money move to the Premier League, he was hot property and hailed as one of the best centre-halves throughout Europe, being on the hit-list of all the top clubs. City won the race to his signature and paid a hefty £32million for him. A price, they felt, would be justified by the Frenchman's ability.
Difficult first season
A difficult first season may be more damning than Mangala may have thought. Many feel a price tag in that region means you have to gel with your side; there is no room for error for the cream of the crop. However, City's season was personified by Mangala, as high expectations led to underachievement and disappointment.
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He was described during his debut against Chelsea last season as being 'colossal' by BBC pundits, though only a week later he conceded a penalty and scored an own goal in a defeat to Hull City.
Mangala's season continued to free fall when he received a red card shortly after in November and not even halfway through the season he was already being questioned.
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Hailed as a flop in the most widely critiqued league in the world is nothing out of the ordinary, Mangala knew that. Many felt this was always going to be a season of transition, as playing in the top flight in Portugal requires nowhere near the same character. Also coping with Vincent Kompany's poor season didn't help Mangala to get into any true rhythm.
Meanwhile, as Mangala struggled in England, Otamendi of Argentina enjoyed a fantastic campaign with Valencia. The Argentine was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, and whispers were heard of Mangala's days being numbered.
The summer allowed Mangala time to settle, and the 24-year-old looked good as the season opened. A domination at the back on the first game of the season led to a clean sheet at West Brom and a standout defensive performance.
With rumours still rife in the lead up to Sunday's clash with Chelsea, Mangala emulated his first game performance and bullied the bullish Diego Costa as City ran out 3-0 winners once again.
Why lose Mangala?
So why ship him off? The imminent arrival of Otamendi, undoubtedly a great centre-half, but unproven in the Premier League, means Mangala could go the other way on loan. Both players share the same agent and Valencia are keen to wrap up any outstanding business around their Alvaro Negredo signing last summer.
But the move on City's part is particularly rash. Albeit it's early days, but Mangala now looks the player he was at Porto, commanding and strong, decent with his feet and an aerial threat. The move to offload him could upset the balance at City that has been set out so early on.
Pellegrini has often been enigmatic and the decision may have come from above his authority level, but it still begs the question, will the big shift in defence disrupt the flow of the pace setters City?
The Premier League is a tricky one to grasp, and although Mangala looks like he's starting to understand it, apparently for all his errors last year, his bed has been made. The nature of the move shows the turbulent and unforgiving nature of the world's most competitive division. Otamendi needs to be aware that it could be him that is next in the firing line.
City fans, should you keep hold of Mangala or trade him for Otamendi? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.
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