Who’s the ideal new midfielder for Guardiola at Man City?

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Manchester City kick off the defence of their Premier League title with an away clash against Arsenal on 12th August.

Pep Guardiola’s side are just 8/11 to win a second successive crown this term. And yet, the Citizens have barely added to their squad to date. The club have signed Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City, but reinforcements are still needed elsewhere.

Central midfield is an area that needs attention. Yaya Toure has now left the club. And Brazilian metronome Fernandinho isn’t getting any younger. So who is the ideal midfielder for Pep’s City side?

Football Intelligence

Guardiola’s complex Juego de Posicion philosophy means one of the primary necessities for a midfielder is football intelligence.

With his system carving out 20 different zones out on the pitch, the player must also be able to work out exactly what zone he needs to be in, in any given passage of play.

This is to allow the player on the ball to have two to three passing options available to him so the team can rapidly recycle the ball.

If you’re not born into the process at Barcelona’s La Masia academy or a Dutch footballing institution like Ajax, it can be difficult to adapt to.

Technique and passing ability

Alongside intelligence, technique and passing ability are a prerequisite. A midfielder must be able to give and receive the ball in tight spaces. And this is why Guardiola consistently drills his players in training with the Rondo.

The ability to execute passes is vital because, in Pep’s philosophy, it takes 15 passes to create the right structure to either attack, or counter-attack.

 So, if you’re not able to find your teammate with a pass, you’re not going to last long in a Guardiola side.

The candidates

12 May 2018, Munich, Soccer, German Bundesliga: Bayern Munich vs VfB Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena: Munich's Thiago Alcantara on the ball.(NO WIRE SERVICE) Photo: Thomas Eisenhuth/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB

12 May 2018, Munich, Soccer, German Bundesliga: Bayern Munich vs VfB Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena: Munich’s Thiago Alcantara on the ball.(NO WIRE SERVICE) Photo: Thomas Eisenhuth/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB

In reality, the ideal midfield player for Pep is Sergio Busquets. But Barcelona won’t be selling him anytime soon. Plus, a deal for Italian international Jorginho has come and gone. So, where else does the former Bayern Munich coach look?

A prime candidate would be Bayern’s Thiago Alcantara. The Spain midfielder has worked under Guardiola at both Barca and Der FCB. And it’s well-known that Thiago fancies a move away from Munich.

Marco Verrati would be another ideal star. The Paris Saint-Germain ace is the prototype of a Guardiola midfielder. But it would take a huge amount of money for PSG to sell the 25-year-old.

Arguably, the most attainable player would be Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic. The 24-year-old Croatian is said to be keen to move on and Real are rumoured to be ready to sell.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Cian Carroll

Starting life as a football columnist for his local paper in Dundalk, Cian has written for a number of media outlets with pieces published in The Birmingham Mail and Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo. A lover of football, GAA, boxing, rugby and MMA, he’s a big Aston Villa and Dundalk fan. He can be regularly spotted on various mountain tops.