Manchester City have shelved plans to sign a new left-back in the summer, according to reports in the local media.
Manager Pep Guardiola had hinted that the club would look to strengthen the left-hand side with a bid for Leicester’s Ben Chilwell having been considered. However, it appears the City boss is now content with the options at his disposal.
It is a decision that will come as a surprise to many supporters considering Benjamin Mendy’s injury troubles over the past two seasons. Knee problems have meant the 24-year-old has made just 23 appearances for the club since his £52m signing from Monaco in July 2017.
Without mentioning his off the field antics and indiscipline, the fact that the Frenchman has only featured in 23% of Premier League games since his arrival makes him an ongoing problem for the club, especially as it appears his knee requires to be constantly managed.
After returning from knee surgery in January, Mendy has made just three starts and one substitute appearance in all competitions. His inability to stay 100% fit is a major bone of contention and it’s hard to argue that City have had a good return for a player who cost such a sizeable transfer fee. It would, therefore, seem to be a risk keeping faith with a player whose fitness is so unreliable. But perhaps I’m not seeing things as Guardiola sees it.
I think a big part of his decision to keep faith with his current left-backs must be down to the form of Oleksandr Zinchenko. The Ukrainian is ostensibly a central midfielder but his conversion to left-back has been an inspired move by Guardiola.
Starting in the position, Zinchenko has never failed to win a Premier League game, which is a remarkable stat in itself, but more than that, he has begun to show he possesses the defensive qualities and instincts to play in the role for the long term.
Guardiola has been effusive in his praise of the 22-year-old on more than one occasion this season, and there can be no doubt that the youngster’s excellent displays may have persuaded the Citizens against making another expensive purchase in that position.
Zinchenko could well usurp Mendy as first choice even when the Frenchman is fully fit and is able to play more regularly. That is a testament to the young player’s talent and determination to succeed at the Etihad.