Manchester City took a step closer towards successfully defending the Carabao Cup yesterday evening by squeezing past Leicester City on penalties.
There was a feeling of Deja vu in the air as Pep Guardiola’s men rocked up to the King Power Stadium for a quarter-final with Leicester City on a cold December evening, and that feeling became eerily familiar when City secured their passage to the semi-final via a penalty shootout.
Claudio Bravo was the shootout hero last season but it was Aro Muric who stepped up to the plate on this occasion to save two penalties and send City through to the next round.
It was far from a perfect performance from a much-changed starting eleven, which included a full debut for Eric Garcia, 17, but City’s dream of clinching an unprecedented quadruple ultimately remains in tact.
There were other positives to draw from proceedings: Foden looked less eager to impress in comparison with his erratic performance against Hoffenheim and that ultimately translated into a notably more accomplished showing, Garcia was solid on his debut and Kevin De Bruyne returned to the starting eleven with a vintage net-busting strike to give City the lead.
Aside from the aforementioned plus points, there was also a promising performance from Brahim Diaz to shout about. The direct style of dribbling which epitomises his game allowed him to cut through Leicester’s defensive unit on more than one occasion, even if his end-product was somewhat lacking at times.
Sure, Diaz was far from perfect and there is clearly plenty of scope for improvement in the 19-year-old, but the raw potential on display provided ample evidence to suggest Pep Guardiola must do everything in his power to extend his contract in January.
As of January 1st Diaz will be free to enter negotiations over a pre-contract agreement with clubs outside of England, and a recent report from El Chiringuito (via Sports Mole) suggests that Real Madrid have already managed to turn his head towards the Spanish capital.
But with the squad seemingly set for the season – Fernandinho’s replacement aside – Guardiola must make Diaz a priority in January before seeking new acquisitions.
Naturally the prospect of returning to his home nation will be resonating strongly with Diaz and swaying his decision in Madrid’s favour, but his lack of first-team opportunities in Manchester certainly aren’t helping.
With such a star-studded list of players standing in Diaz’s way at City, it’s easy to sympathise with his desire to leave the club in search of first-team opportunities, but the promise he showcased against Leicester provided further evidence to suggest Guardiola could be on the cusp of losing a future superstar.
After losing Jadon Sancho to Borussia Dortmund last summer City cannot afford to make the same mistake with Diaz.
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