Vincent Kompany’s departure, even if by then he was past his impressive peak, perhaps troubled Manchester City more than they would have expected. They lost not only his leadership and his authoritative defending, but a composed presence in the centre of a defence in which John Stones and Benjamin Mendy remained relatively inexperienced figures. If Aymeric Laporte is among Europe’s finest defenders, when he has been unavailable, Pep Guardiola has often felt little choice but to play Fernandinho out of position in central defence, and therefore to sacrifice him from where he is so influential at the base of midfield.
Nathan Aké was signed from Bournemouth for £40m in an attempt to strengthen their central defensive options before, in Rúben Dias, a club-record £65m was then invested in a 23-year-old Portugal international central defender finally considered the long-term successor to the decorated Kompany. “It is really exciting to be part of such a talented squad and to play for a world-class manager like Pep Guardiola, who has a proven track record of developing young players like myself,” Dias said upon his arrival. It is perhaps Dias’ 2020/21, more than any other, that will determine the success of City’s.