Pep Guardiola’s bright start as Manchester City manager has given way to October gloom, with the Etihad outfit now winless in six matches. And with the Citizens’ defence in need of repair, the Spaniard’s next task should be tempting Barcelona man Sergi Roberto to join the cause.
While there’s no doubting Pablo Zabaleta’s work ethic has made him a popular figure with City fans, the ageing right-back has looked off the pace for some time, and his stats for this campaign pale against those achieved by Roberto.
The 24-year-old has already notched up four assists in La Liga this season, including a delightful double in the 5-0 demolition of Sporting Gijon last month.
He can also be relied on to chip in with a few strikes of his own, and possesses a natural eye for goal – as his deft finish for Spain against Liechtenstein in September proved.
And his other metrics this season – 87 per cent passing accuracy, and 56 per cent of duels won, tower above Zabaleta.
As for City’s other options – the raw youngster Pablo Maffeo, who played in the defeat at Old Trafford last night, and the sluggish Bacary Sagna haven’t made a case to take the Argentine’s first-team spot, though the former does offer promise.
With two La Liga titles, a Champions League medal, and several Spain caps under his belt, Roberto also has a wealth of experience in big game situations.
And he frequently makes a telling contribution on the big stage – such as setting up Luis Suarez’s opener in last season’s victory at Real Madrid.
Valued at £17m by Transfermarkt.co.uk, he’s certainly not out of the price range of a club who spent £181m during the summer – while Barca’s wealth of options on the right flank mean they may not consider him indispensable.
And the lure of teaming up with the man who gave him his debut could prove tough to resist for the Catalonia native.
As for City, they look to end their current dismal run with victory at West Brom, with 4/9 for Pep’s current crop to take all three points.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing