Despite having been partners in the centre of Manchester City's defence for periods this season, Martin Demichelis has told Eliaquim Mangala he still has a lot to learn if he's to take his place.
With Vincent Kompany having missed a number of games through injury, summer signing Mangala has often lined up alongside 34-year-old Demichelis, producing mixed results. At times the pairing has seemed solid and impenetrable, but more often than not it's been shaky and unorganised, showing just how important Kompany is to City's success.
The Belgian skipper is now fully fit, leaving Manuel Pellegrini with a choice to make as to who will partner his inspirational captain.
When City took on Arsenal last weekend it was Demichelis who got the nod, and the Argentine has informed his younger teammate that he has a lot of learning to do before he can overtake him as Kompany's regular partner.
Given the Argentine is 11-years his French teammates senior, you'd expect him to be the wiser head, but what will Pellegrini decide?
How strong is Mangala?
Since signing for City for upwards of £30 million last summer, Mangala's performances have been somewhat hit and miss. After a near faultless debut display against Chelsea he's often struggled when coming up against the Premier League's basement boys, with his inexperience often shining through.
While he may lack the understanding of the game that often comes with age, he does possess incredible raw strength, something Demichelis admits may give the Frenchman an edge.
"Manga is the same age as I was when I went to Bayern Munich from Argentina,” he told the Manchester Evening News.
“He is helped by the fact he has tremendous physical condition, but obviously he has things to learn."
"He is helped by the fact he has tremendous physical condition, but obviously he has things to learn"
Settling in to the Premier League
Much like Mangala, Demichelis didn't settle in to life in England straight away, but after a difficult start to his City career he soon became an influential figure for the Premier League champions.
He now finds himself being a near ever-present for Pellegrini, something he's not shy to point out.
"I don’t want to be arrogant, but if you check the stats I am the player with the third most minutes in this Premier League season," he said.
"I don’t want to be arrogant, but if you check the stats I am the player with the third most minutes in this Premier League season"
"The goalkeeper always has the most, and then comes Yaya Toure, and after that Demichelis."
Can Demichelis teach Mangala?
Due to injury to Kompany, Demichelis and Mangala were among just three men who played every minute of City's hectic schedule over the Christmas period.
Alongside Jesus Navas the duo completed the 90 minutes against West Brom on Boxing day, played the entire game against Burnley just two days later and kept their place from start to finish against Sunderland on New Year's day.
During that time Demichelis, being the elder statesman, would likely have been talking Mangala through the game. And that's the only way the Frenchman will learn - from his more experienced teammates passing on the knowledge they've picked up in their own, distinguished, careers.
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