Manchester City were reportedly willing to break their transfer record to sign Benfica defender Ruben Dias until the outbreak of coronavirus forced a rethink.
The print edition of Portuguese newspaper Record claimed [via Sport Witness] that the Premier League champions were prepared to spend €100m (£89.57m) on the 23-year-old to trigger his release clause, with Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira declaring that he could have sold two of the club’s players for that amount this summer before the impact of COVID-19 on football clubs’ finances.
Had Manchester City signed him for that amount, it would have been the most expensive acquisition for a player in their history, trumping the current record of £62.6m for Rodri from last summer.
Dias has been ever-present in a Benfica side with the best defensive record in the Portuguese top flight this season, conceding just 14 goals in 24 league matches. He has also chipped in with three goals for the Eagles so far in 2019/20.
The Portugal defender is often composed in possession, with an 88.8% passing accuracy rate, while he averages 2.1 successful headers, 1.3 successful tackles and 2.8 clearances per game (via WhoScored) – beating most of Manchester City’s current centre-back options for those metrics.
Would Ruben Dias have been an upgrade on Man City's current centre-backs?
The centre of defence is a position where Pep Guardiola has had difficulties this season. Aymeric Laporte has been injured for most of the campaign while both Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones have faced criticism from pundits and supporters respectively over their performances. Indeed, veteran midfielder Fernandinho has been shunted into a centre-back role throughout the season to fill the void.
Manchester City also have the option of teenager Eric Garcia in that position, although the 19-year-old has been the subject of transfer enquiries from Barcelona, as claimed by ESPN.
Considering Dias’ fine record this season and Manchester City’s central defensive woes, the Benfica man would have seemed the perfect addition for the Etihad Stadium outfit this summer were it not for the impact of coronavirus on the transfer market.
Now that the Portugal defender seems out of reach, it has become increasingly important to hold on to Garcia, who has been lauded by many City supporters for his performances so far and who has posted some impressive statistics whenever he has played in the Premier League this season.
Man City fans, how big a blow it is to miss out on Dias? Does that make it all the more vital that they keep Garcia this summer? Share your views in the comments section below!
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