Manchester City’s defensive issues have been well-documented by their Premier League position this season. Their backline hasn’t been as stable as it was last season and that has been a big reason why they’re not closer to the top of the league. That defence needs a change and Nicolas Otamendi should be part of that change.
The Argentine has been a constant at the back for City since he came to the club from Valencia in the summer of 2015 for a £28.5 million fee. When Pep Guardiola came in, he was a regular for two seasons. But his stock has been falling over time. In recent times, he’s been more or less been behind Aymeric Laporte in the pecking order. It’s pretty much odds on that Otamendi won’t be at City next season.
He has made 20 appearances in all competitions this season. Laporte’s injury has been a key reason for why he’s been playing regularly. Guardiola’s tendency to not trust John Stones has also been a reason, with the Englishman having made only two appearances in the last six Premier League games.
While that does show Guardiola’s liking for Otamendi over Stones, but the Argentine would merely be a back-up when City have a better defensive line. He might be the first casualty when the club goes on making defensive changes in the summer of 2020.
This season, Otamendi has been dribbled past 0.8 times per game- the second-worst of his City career. The worst came in his 2015-16 season. But back then, his number stood at 1.4 when he had made three tackles per game. The tackling accuracy was higher. This season, Otamendi has made 1.3 tackles per game and the accuracy is less than 50 percent.
Last season, he had played 69 passes per game in the Premier League- less than every other central defender. He had played 4.2 inaccurate short-passes per game- a sign of how he’s prone to losing the ball under a manager who doesn’t like to give away the ball.
While he isn’t a bad defender at all. And that isn’t the point of it. But if City want to get better, they need a better defender. With Kalidou Koulibaly potentially available in the summer, that is the sort of central defender that City should be looking at to improve their defensive standards.
Jason Cundy once told TalkSport, while talking about Otamendi: “If Otamendi was playing for Norwich, would we be saying ‘Man City should go and sign him’? I don’t think we would. I don’t know how good Otamendi is. Is he any better than Tyrone Mings?”
Gary Neville also talked about it on Sky Sports. He said: ” Otamendi always gets caught out as a centre-back and quickens up the opposition in attack. He’s so not a Pep Guardiola type centre-back, they’re usually composed but he’s rash.”
Otamendi could still do a job for them- like he is currently. But he can’t be the only central defender that they can rely on. He has constantly shown that he does make errors and sometimes lags behind in terms of pace. Those are aspects that let the former Los Che man down.
Otamendi is 31 and letting him go on further will only decrease his market value. His current deal runs out in the summer of 2022 and letting him go in the summer will make sure that City get the most out of a potential sale. It has to happen, or City will not be helped on or off the pitch.