Manchester City

Forget Otamendi: This £72m-rated star has been Man City’s most improved player this season

The Manchester City fans in the Transfer Tavern are beginning to reflect on what has been a brilliant season for the club so far, and many have labelled Nicolas Otamendi as the most improved player. 

The Argentine defender’s performances last season were often characterised by unnecessary rash challenges, fatal errors of judgement and lapses in concentration. All of the aforementioned characterisations encouraged fans across the country to question how he earned his transfer to Man City in August 2015, but his performances this season have forced his strongest critics to eat their words.

Otamendi has been a rock at the heart of Man City’s defence alongside Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte more recently, proving that he does not need a more able central defensive partner to mask his mistakes. However, it is the 30-year-old’s all-round game which has particularly impressed the supporters.

Otamendi has recorded the highest number of passes by any player in European football during the current campaign, and he has notched 5 goals in 35 appearances this season – two statistics which suggest his quality is not restricted to the defensive third of the field.

But in spite of all this, Raheem Sterling (valued at £72 million by Transfermarkt) is more deserving of the most improved player title due to his enormous improvement in front of goal. Since Sterling broke onto the scene as a 17-year-old at Liverpool, he has been consistently criticised for his lack of clinical edge in goal-scoring positions, but judging by his record this season, that notion is losing its validity as a plausible criticism of the England international.

In 36 appearances this season, Sterling has found the back of the net on 20 occasions, which is already double what he managed in the entirety of City’s last campaign. Amongst those goals there have been last-gasp winners, tap-ins, long-range efforts, and even a header against Cardiff back in January.

For a man who has consistently been labelled as a poor finisher throughout the British media, his goal-scoring achievements this season are truly remarkable, and his success in this regard suggests that the level of his improvement eclipses that which Otamendi has demonstrated throughout the campaign.

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