Ruben Dias: Manchester City sign defender from Benfica, Nicolas Otamendi to go the other way
Benfica have announced the sale of defender Ruben Dias to Manchester City, with the English side agreeing to pay the sum of £65m, while a separate deal for Nicolas Otamendi was also agreed.
Manchester City have agreed a £65m deal to sign defender Ruben Dias, Benfica have announced, with Nicolas Otamendi moving in the opposite direction.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 28, 2020
City have long been in need of defensive reinforcements and had been strongly linked with several names on the continent, including those of Kalidou Koulibaly, Jose Gimenez, and Jules Kounde but recent reports suggested that a move for Ruben Dias was of primary importance and Guardiola asked the club board to go all out for his purchase.
A deal has now been agreed and according to the statement by Benfica, the transfer is worth an initial £62m, while another £3m is subject to add-ons and performance related clauses.
A separate fee of £13.6m has also been agreed for the purchase of Nicolas Otamendi and this will see him return to Portugal, having spent four seasons in the past with FC Porto.
The Argentina international signed for City in the summer of 2015 after forcing through a move from Valencia and Otamendi went on to make over 200 appearances in all competitions for the Cityzens and won nine trophies, although he faced constant criticisms for his frequent defensive lapses and error-strewn performances.
He would take the place of Ruben Dias at the heart of the Benfica defense and fans of the club would hope that he brings his wealth of experience to bear in the Portuguese capital.
Would the arrival of Ruben Dias help Manchester City solve rampant defensive issues?
It is no hidden secret that Manchester City have struggled massively at the back in the last one year and if fans of the club were under any illusions as to how poor their backline is, the embarrassing defeat to Leicester City did enough to quell that belief.
Time and again, the likes of Jamie Vardy, Dennis Praet, and Harvey Barnes had enough space to run behind the City defense and with each Leicester attack, they threatened to score (and they did with almost every single one of them).
Further proof of how shambolic City’s defending was lies in the fact that Vardy had just 17 touches in the entire game, yet scored three goals with all three of his shots on target, while James Maddison also grabbed a goal and an assist despite spending less than 20 minutes on the field.
Sadly for City fans, this is not an isolated incident and it drew flashbacks to August in Lisbon when Olympique Lyon had a field day with the City defense, with Memphis Depay, Maxwell Cornet and Moussa Dembele acting as chief instigators as the French side constantly sliced through the City backline like a knife through butter.
Other instances of this happening last season include against Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal, while Wolves also deployed similar tactics in getting home-and-away victories over City last season.
The blueprint for defeating Guardiola’s side seems to have been discovered – maintaining a low defensive block and exploiting the defensive weakness with pacy forwards on the counter-attack.
For a side that has spent over £300m on defensive reinforcements in the last four years, this is simply not good enough and moving ahead, if the club is to achieve their lofty ambitions, solving their defensive frailty is of paramount importance.
It is for this reason that Guardiola identified signing a right-sided center-back to partner Aymeric Laporte to be his primary aim this summer and Ruben Dias would come in and attempt to strengthen the City defense.
The 23-year-old joined the Benfica academy in 2008 and spent the next seven years honing his development until he made his bow for the B-team in 2015 and the senior side in 2017.
In the intervening three years, Dias became a mainstay in the Eagles’ first-team and helped the team to the Primeira Liga title in 2019, while he also made 133 appearances in all competitions for his boyhood club.
Dias is also established at international level and has won 19 caps for Portugal, with whom he won the 2019 UEFA Nations League and was voted into the Team of the Tournament for his performances.
His arrival at City will see him slot into the first-team as Laporte’s partner and he could be the right-sided center-back that the club has been yearning for since Vincent Kompany departed.
City surprisingly elected against replacing their former captain and this is a decision they lived to regret, as none of John Stones, Otamendi or Eric Garcia performed at the requisite levels expected of them.
The trio were constantly caught out by fast opposition forwards and Ruben Dias’ arrival could help stem this tide.
He has the pace to cover distances and gaps left behind him by City’s high-line, while he also has the composure and technique on the ball that Guardiola demands of his players.
Ruben Dias was named captain on his last match for Benfica and he marked the occasion with a goal in the 2-0 victory over Moirerense.
“I am very happy, obviously,”
the Benfica captain, who appeared to be on the verge of tears during his brief interview, told BTV after netting the opening goal in the 20th minute.
“This was a very important game for me, and to be able to crown it with a goal… it was a special moment.
“I think that everyone here will be able to guess why that is.
“It was without a doubt something special. The captain’s armband too was special.”
His former manager Jorge Jesus also addressed the impending transfer, saying:
“I am almost certain this was his last game. Sometimes in football everything can change at the last minute, but I don’t think this is the case.
“We are sad to see him go. He is a [Benfica academy] Seixal product, a captain, an international… But I am also to blame for him leaving.
“It is related to our Champions League elimination, there are things that have to be balanced and Ruben has a lot of market value.”
With Aymeric Laporte having recovered from his COVID-19 infection and back to full training with the club, Pep Guardiola would be hoping that the arrival of Ruben Dias would help solve his issues at the back.
Whether that happens remains to be seen but if the Portugal international can perform to the levels expected of his, City would definitely fancy their chances of dethroning Liverpool from the perch of the English game.
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