Following Manchester City’s surprise defeat to Newcastle United last night, talk has once again turned to whether their squad needs strengthening.
In fairness, it is hard to see where City could get stronger in all but one position.
And, naturally, it is in the position that the transfer rumour mill has focused its gaze today.
Earlier in the season, Pep Guardiola‘s team went through a mini-slump when Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho was injured. Guardiola admitted this was the one area in his squad where he didn’t have adequate cover.
Although Fernandinho did play last night against Newcastle, with just days remaining in the January window should City be looking to bring in cover and, even, a player that could push Fernandinho for his spot in the side?
Earlier this week, PSG were rumoured to be close to signing Everton’s Idrissa Gueye.
Today, in what could be a knee-jerk reaction to last night’s result, Manchester City are being linked to the midfielder.
This tactical analysis piece will look at player statistics and decide whether Man City should be spending big money on Idrissa Gueye.
One thing that surprised me when pulling this profile was that Gueye is now 29.
Although that is four years younger than the Brazilian Fernandinho you’d have to think that, at best, City would get two, maybe three seasons out of Gueye.
He is also under contract until the summer of 2022 meaning that it is going to cost big money to get him from Everton.
As you can see from his heat map, he is an all-action midfielder. His heat-map is quite similar to that of Ngolo Kante in his back-to-back title-winning seasons with Leicester and Chelsea.
What do the statistics say?
Let’s look at the performance data from the careers to date of both Gueye and Fernandinho.
Immediately, these statistics interest me.
Gueye is winning more defensive duels and at a higher % completion rate than Fernandinho. Could it be argued that this is because Fernandinho is playing for an elite team and Gueye has spent his career in England at Aston Villa and Everton?
Possibly, but Fernandinho does have to cover a lot of defensive ground in City’s style of play so the numbers do stand up.
Gueye is also up on the interceptions, something that is vital in City’s quick transition approach. He also recovers the ball in the opposition half more often.
So, we could argue that Gueye is already a good defensive match for City.
But, what is he like with the ball once he has got it back?
As you can see, this is where the class of Fernandinho comes into his own.
He is above Gueye in all areas when it comes to being productive with the ball.
Again, a caveat. Has Gueye ever been allowed to play in a system where he can be progressive with the ball in a manner that Pep Guardiola likes?
You’d have to argue no. Gueye has been a destroyer in his career so far.
Man City need cover in their defensive midfield strata.
For me, Idrissa Gueye is one of the better midfielders in the Premier League at getting the ball back quickly.
If you look at the list above, the only real candidates other than Gueye if City are going to buy from within the Premier League are Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi.
Xhaka could be considered too much of a wildcard and quite costly whereas Ndidi is still learning the ropes in the Premier League and would no doubt find it a big leap from Leicester to the Etihad.
Therefore, Gueye seems to make perfect sense for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. If they can do a deal at around £20-25m then it could be the cover needed in a crucial position in Pep’s system.
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