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Manchester City: Three options to replace Benjamin Mendy

The Frenchman is set to see a specialist in Barcelona for a knee injury sustained against Crystal Palace.

Possibly one of the worst sights to see in football is a new signing going down injured, clutching his knee no less, which rarely heralds good news.

Pep Guardiola had to exclaim in dismay as Benjamin Mendy did exactly that in the 5-0 dismantling of Crystal Palace at the Etihad on Saturday.

Manchester City’s £50 million left-back was substituted after 29 minutes of action and did not appear with the squad to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League this evening.

Instead, Mendy is set to visit a specialist in Barcelona as the knee injury sustained seems worse than first feared.

Here are three ways Guardiola can replace the Frenchman.

  1. 1 Better safe than sorry

    Although it's not exactly like-for-like, in the sense that Danilo is right-footed, Guardiola can call upon the Brazilian to fill the void in Mendy's absence.

    Signed for £26.5 million from Real Madrid over the summer, the premise was that Danilo could deputise for both Kyle Walker at right back and Mendy at left back.

    It seems as though he might just be getting his chance.

    Whilst Danilo is a competent footballer, particularly in possession, he's not as attack-minded as Mendy.

    For example, Danilo has created just once chance to Mendy's seven, whilst the Frenchman has completed three times as many take-ons.

    Attacking isn't the be-all and end-all, however, and Guardiola has placed a newfound importance on the defensive aspect of the game, conceding just two goals and keeping four clean sheets.

    In this respect, Danilo is perhaps the safest option and ensures City aren't overly compromised defensively. His versatility means he's adept at fulfilling the roles of either a fullback in a back four a wingback in a back three. 

  2. 2 A taste of adventure

    If attack is the first port of call, and it so often is with Pep Guardiola, then he can opt for adventure over safety and deploy Leroy Sane in Mendy's absence.

    However, his complete lack of defensive know-how, since he's a winger, means Sane is suitable only to the left wingback role in a back three.

    Guardiola had experimented with this at points last season, but it didn't have the desired effect and Sane was caught out of position on multiple occasions.


    As a short-term solution, though, this could work well. Sane is primarily attack-minded, the prerequisite of any wing back worth their salt in the modern game, and fast, meaning he can track back with speed when needed.

    The German is skillful, direct and has a fantastic finish, showed by his four goals in City's last two games.

    As long as Guardiola stuck with a back three and deployed a defensive midfielder to sit in front of them and protect them, Sane's defensive deficiencies shouldn't pose too much of a problem, especially as City like to dominate possession.

  3. 3 The last resort

    As has become characteristic of his spells at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City, Guardiola has a penchant for altering a player's position.

    For instance, he turned Philipp Lahm and David Alaba, two of the world's best fullbacks, into holding midfielders, and he's shunted Fernandinho back to fullback occasionally in the past.

    This happens only when a slight injury crisis ensues, but it proved somewhat effective in the short-term.

    Whilst the Brazilian isn't at all attack-minded, he's one of those disciplined players you can count on to carry out your instructions. Don't give him much licence to roam forwards and Fernandinho will carry out his defensive duties.

    However, fullbacks are key to Guardiola's tactical systems for the width, speed and creativity they provide, none of which Fernandinho possesses, so City would lose a vital creative outlet on the left flank, hence the term 'the last resort.'


  1. POLL: Who should Guardiola pick to replace Mendy?

    1. Danilo
    2. Leroy Sane
    3. Fernandinho
    153 votes
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Oli Stein

Football Editor

Oli graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in History and has been RealSport's football editor since September 2016.

He's a Tottenham Hotspur fan first and objective football writer second!

Oli is also a defensive end for American football club the London Blitz, starting his career on the offensive line with his Bristol university team.

Manchester City: Three options to replace Benjamin Mendy

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