Manchester City and full-backs. It’s a relationship defined by turmoil. For so long, City neglected the opportunity to upgrade, or had their hand forced into matters elsewhere, matters deemed more important. But like a child watching their friends play with their new-gen gaming consoles, City had an epiphany. Something, somewhere broke the camel’s back.
All of City’s lacklustre efforts to upgrade on both flanks these past few years have been replaced with something more tigerish, more sinister; the determination of a kid who won’t be left behind their friends. A fierce angst has clouded over the Etihad boardroom. “I want full-backs. Give me full-backs, just full-backs,” Pep Guardiola might’ve said since Manchester City last signed a player who wasn’t a full-back – Ederson Moraes (all the way back in May according to Benfica, but officially June 8th). Since then it has been a covert operation to strengthen the weakest department at Manchester City Football Club.
With as much ruthlessness in releasing Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta at the same time; their successors are being brought in at rapid pace. Pep wants no excuses ahead of the new season and if that means splurging his budget on historically the least two desirable positions on a football pitch then so be it, because his full-backs will now be athletic, they will be fast and they will be technically sound – all of which they were not previously. Danilo’s £26.5m transfer is testament to that extraordinary desire to stock up in that position.
Your calls to save money and promote Pablo Maffeo fall on deaf ears. Pep won’t be placing his trust in a kid who has only plied his trade in the Segunda Division against Europe’s elite next season – there is absolutely no chance of that. Instead he will plunder arguably the greatest squad of footballers ever assembled, and make Real Madrid’s back-up, our back-up. The Brazilian might have initially struggled when moving to Madrid, but he showed fortitude to fill in for the injured Carvajal many times last season and if Pep really did beat Conte and Allegri to his signature then the-once-rising-star clearly has something about him.
In reality, Danilo’s performances last season were much improved, recording six assists in limited play-time. A player who had been devoid of confidence and unable to express himself in front of a demanding crowd had finally come into his own and helped Madrid to a historic double. Danilo filled in at left-back for Marcelo and covered Carvajal’s absences well; as a multi-faceted footballer he has plied his trade on both flanks for Madrid and Porto and even appeared in midfield for Santos as they won the 2011 Copa Libertadores.
Even if links have cooled down currently, don’t be surprised if City still swoop in for Ryan Bertrand either. Pep has purged all four of his full-backs that played last season and signing a another full-back only emphasises the statement he’s trying to make. It’s almost an obsession for Pep to radically overhaul our full-back department. In many ways, Danilo’s arrival is the kid finally getting his hands on the next-gen console.