A pattern appears to be emerging at Manchester City: A young centre half arrives with bags of potential and a rather large fee attached to his name, starts his career well before making several costly mistakes and is sold on for a reduced price.
Perhaps it's still too early in Eliaquim Mangala's Citizens career to begin drawing comparisons, however after several sloppy mistakes Manuel Pellegrini's patience appears to be wearing thin with the young France international.
Vincent Kompany and the 34-year-old Martin Demichelis now appear to be the favoured centre-back pairing at the Etihad Stadium.
With no clean sheet in eight games, a back four which seemingly changes every week and the arrival of Barcelona imminent, Pellegrini has to give Manchester City’s £32 million pound man a consistent run of games alongside Kompany and a place in the starting XI against the four-time European champions if the Premier League giants are to stand any chance of progressing into the last eight of the Champions League.
Mangala could be the man to stop Messi
It’s fair to say Mangala hasn’t met the high expectations many had when he arrived at the club in August. The Frenchman has struggled to keep his place and maintain any form in the back four and has made costly mistakes including one red card, one own goal and several blunders that have directly lead to a goal.
The Frenchman should however not be written off and has had some stellar performances in a City shirt in between. Mangala looked like the real deal when thrown in at the deep end making his debut against Chelsea earlier this season.
He showed strength, speed and a fantastic reading of the game in a dominant performance which saw him get the better of Diego Costa.
Another big game, and another big performance saw Mangala completely dominate Francesco Totti and AS Roma at the Stadio Olympico, where Manchester City defied all the odds and booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Now the biggest game of the lot and in my opinion this one could be Mangala’s coming out party, with the City man announcing his arrival on the highest stage if he is picked ahead of Demichelis in the heart of defence.
Pellegrini must go with Youth over Experience
Cast your mind back to Manchester City's 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Barcelona at the Etihad last season. With Lionel Messi bearing down on goal, Demichelis took a wild swipe, seemingly with almost no chance of coming away with the ball, the referee wrongly awarded a penalty however was 100 per cent correct in his decision to show the defender a red card.
A year on and Barcelona now have Luis Suarez, who is yet to hit the ground running but will be well up for his first game back on English soil. A much improved Neymar who appears to now be settling into life at Barcelona and of course they still have arguably the greatest to ever play the game: Lionel Messi.
Demichelis failed in his attempt to contain Messi and the weakest Barcelona side seen for many years last season and now with the Argentine veteran a year older and slightly slower, Pellegrini must go with youth over experience.