Eliaquim Mangala has left Manchester City after five years on the Premier League champions’ books, swapping England for La Liga.
Sky Sports reported that the 28-year-old France defender completed a free transfer to Valencia on Monday, signing a two-year deal at the Mestalla.
According to Sky Sports, the defender was not part of Pep Guardiola’s plans at the Etihad Stadium and was allowed to leave for free despite his contract not expiring until next summer.
Mangala joined Manchester City from Porto in 2014 for a reported £32m, according to The Independent, although Manchester Evening News later claimed that the deal came to around £42m owing to the joint ownership of his contract with Porto.
The defender made 64 appearances in his first two seasons at the Etihad under Manuel Pellegrini but his performances drew scorn from some pundits.
When speaking about Mangala, Chris Sutton offered the withering putdown that “you cannot give someone a brain” [via The Telegraph], while French journalist Pierre Menes criticised the player’s positional sense and lack of alertness [via Manchester Evening News].
Interestingly, former team-mate John Stones has made seven such errors in the league in 147 appearances, a rate of one goal-causing mistake per 21 games notably worse than Mangala’s.
Mangala’s defensive statistics had dwindled during his time at the Etihad, however. In his first season in England, he had a passing success rate of 88.6% and won 2.2 aerial duels and 1.7 tackles per game, along with averaging 1.6 interceptions per match [via WhoScored.com].
In nine Premier League appearances for Manchester City in 2017/18, those figures had dropped to 1.3 successful aerial duels, 0.6 successful tackles and 0.2 interceptions per game [via WhoScored.com].
While Mangala has been statistically less likely to commit critical errors than either Stones or Otamendi, the fact that he had not played for Manchester City since December 2017 (as reported by Sky Sports) indicates that Guardiola did not see him as the answer at centre-back, even as backup to Stones, Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte after Vincent Kompany’s summer departure.
Also, the sharp decline in the 28-year-old’s defensive output from his first season at the Etihad to his most recent suggests that his best days are behind him and, having won four trophies in his absence last season, Manchester City have proven they can cope just fine without Mangala.
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