Aymeric Laporte has had “successful” knee surgery, but Manchester City will be without their best center back for at least the next few months, as a January return is optimistic.
What now for Pep Guardiola and his defense?
John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are the only two center backs they have in their squad, while Fernandinho has revealed he has been training as a center back in recent weeks.
After Vincent Kompany moved on this summer, everybody thought City would splash the cash to sign a new center back. They went after Harry Maguire but couldn’t match the fee Man United wanted to pay, and now here we are.
Losing Laporte, who was superb for City last season, was the last thing Guardiola would have wanted.
It is no exaggeration to say this injury, depending on how serious it is, has swung the pendulum in Liverpool’s favor when it comes to the Premier League title race.
What options do Man City have to plug the gap left by Laporte?
Stones, who is returning from injury himself, and Otamendi are the obvious choices, but the latter has struggled in the early weeks of the season after being left out for most of last season. And Stones’ issues from a pure defensive standpoint continue.
Another option is to play Kyle Walker at center back and have Joao Cancelo at right back, while playing Fernandinho as a center back is also a very decent option, as youngster Eric Garcia is still probably a little too raw.
Guardiola isn’t against playing a central midfielder at center back. He did it with Javier Mascherano at Barcelona and Fernandinho’s spot as a holding midfielder has now been taken up by Rodri so the Brazilian veteran may have a big role to play.
Simply put, it was a big mistake by Man City to not bring in a new center back over the summer. Relying on three center backs for the entire season, which will likely consist of over 60 games, was a huge gamble.
Despite all of their attacking options, Laporte’s injury is a massive blow for Man City’s defense and their title push.