The rock that lead Manchester City to Premier League glory in 2012 and 2014, the captain that guided Belgium to second in the FIFA rankings…what on earth has happened to Vincent Kompany?
After seemingly substituting himself at half time during Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to rivals Manchester United in the EFL Cup is Kompany’s time with City or even his time in football counting down.
Manager Pep Guardiola revealed after the match that his captain told him he could not continue in the match. Kompany is returning from a sustained period out with an injury, so he has every right to be cautious. However, there is nothing to suggest that it was an injury concern that forced him off.
Guardiola was coy with what he said but it leaves the door open to the interpretation that Kompany physically just could not compete at that level for longer than the first 45 minutes. Something you could never imagine hearing three years ago.
He was fearless and a warrior who took no prisoners when it came to defending, but the decline of Manchester City’s captain is for all to see. Injuries are the curse of all professional sport, cruel to most a sign to retire for some. Major sporting injuries are all too common and no more so for Vincent Kompany.
A talented centre back from Brussels who joined City just before their rise to power has notched up 221 appearances for the club, but it could have been so much more.
Kompany has missed 92 matches since joining City in 2008, that’s 605 days out with injury! And the telling part of it all is since Manchester City last won the league in 2014 Kompany has missed 60 of those 92 matches in a total of 8 years at City.
So is it coincidence that without an ever present Kompany City have finished second and fourth since they last won the league or are we placing too much praise and impact on the Belgian.
The Premier League player of the year in Manchester City’s first title success in 2012 looks a shadow of his former self and being unable to complete matches is a recurring punch in the gut.
So does boss Guardiola stick with his captain, give him the necessary amount of time he needs to recover or does he go big in the transfer window and bring in someone who can fill his shoes?
Slightly above average players come with a hefty price tag these days, let alone a wold class centre-back, so the wealthy club will have to go into their pockets to steal away someone’s prized centre back.
The three best options that spring to mind are Bayern Munich’s Jereme Boateng, Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Barcelona’s Gerrard Pique, but the chances of those club recognised players actually leaving are beyond slim.
However, there are some very interesting options available to Manchester City should they choose to go all in for a new centre back.
One to consider would surely be Athletic Bilbao star Aymeric Laporte, the 22 year old is a classy centre back who has proven himself in La Liga but would come with a sizeable price tag as the Bask club would be less than willing to let the Frenchman go for anything under £40 million. Tall, strong, athletic and a clear understanding of how the game works he looks like a Guardiola player, maybe a good match for John Stones.
However you do risk pairing two young centre backs one of which with only a little Premier League experience and the other with none.
Going in the other direction in way of age Atletico Madrid player Diego Godin would be a readymade centre back to partner the young John Stones, his experience and knowledge would help Stones as well as becoming an integral rock at the back for City. However at the age of 30 you would only be getting another two or three years out of him and that’s even if you could convince him to leave his home in the Spanish capital.
Another option for Guardiola if he wanted the finished article would be 29-year-old Leonardo Bonucci. The Juventus star has spent his entire career in Italy but has been rumoured with a move to join up with his former manager Antonio Conte at Chelsea. The Italian centre back seems happy at Juventus but his head could be turned if Guardiola came calling along with the right price.