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Eliaquim Mangala reportedly may not be sold by Manchester City this summer, with manager Pep Guardiola willing to give him a chance to rejoin the first team.
However, playmaker Samir Nasri is one member of a trio set to leave the Etihad Stadium this summer, along with striker Wilfried Bony.
Jamie Jackson of the Guardian revealed that “while City are still open to offers for him, Guardiola is involving Mangala with the first-team squad and the France defender could yet stay at the club.”
Jackson underlined how Guardiola’s squad is short at centre-half: “City lack depth at centre-back, where Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are the only senior options.”
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In this context, keeping Mangala makes sense, especially since Guardiola has experimented with using a back three during pre-season. Keeping four central defenders around would also prevent the City boss from having to deploy full-backs and midfielders his back line, something common last season, when Aleksandar Kolarov and Fernandinho occasionally played as makeshift centre-backs.
Mangala fits the bill despite having endured a torrid time since moving from FC Porto for £42 million in 2014. The 26-year-old Frenchman has struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League and was also below par during a loan spell with La Liga side Valencia last season.
Yet for all his struggles, Mangala still boasts the attributes of a dynamic defender. He is quick, powerful and comfortable on the ball, with the latter quality sure to endear him to Guardiola given the his insistence on a possession-based game where playing out from the back is key.
Mangala is still regarded enough for Serie A giants Juventus to be keen on taking him on loan, per Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star.
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City may be giving Mangala another chance to prove himself, but Nasri is set for the exit, according to Jackson: “Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony and Jason Denayer are all set to leave as they are not involved with the main group.”
Selling Nasri won’t be easy, though, not when City are asking suitors to “meet the club’s £10 million plus asking price in addition to footing his £9.6 million-per-year wages,” per James Ducker of the Daily Telegraph.
Nasri’s inability to find a place in Guardiola’s plans can be read as a microcosm of his career decline. On the surface, the French schemer has all the attributes needed to endear him to a manager who builds his teams around technical quality and creativity in the middle.
The former Arsenal playmaker is blessed with close control, vision and guile. Unfortunately, the 30-year-old has fallen foul of managers and team-mates during his time with City, according to Nick Ames of the Guardian, despite winning two Premier League titles with the club.
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Nasri has been frozen out of a rotation rich in creative maestros, such as David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. Even so, City may have to lower their demands if they want to move the Frenchman on.
Selling Nasri makes sense, just as keeping Mangala around for defensive cover would be another smart move as City prepare to mount a title challenge during the manager’s second season in charge.