City’s solution for midfield backup could lie within squad
The answer to Manchester City’s frustrating search for a backup defensive midfielder could lie inside the English champion’s squad.
City manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday the club is looking to get a work permit for 20-year-old Brazilian Douglas Luiz, who was signed from Vasco da Gama in the 2017 offseason and then spent last season on loan at Spanish side Girona.
Douglas made most of his 17 appearances for Girona off the bench and he barely featured in the final months of the season.
Still, Guardiola believes the youngster is good enough to be an understudy to compatriot Fernandinho heading into the new season.
“Yes, that’s why we asked for the permit,” Guardiola said, ”... because we believe he can play with us.”
City was linked with Brazil international Fred, who joined Manchester United this offseason, and was close to signing Italy midfielder Jorginho from Napoli before he chose at the last minute to follow coach Mauricio Sarri to Chelsea.
“We were close, but at the end Jorginho decided to stay with Mauricio. Nothing to do (about it),” Guardiola said. “I said before, I like players who want to come to Manchester City. He doesn’t like to come so he goes to another club. Good luck to Chelsea. They are going to discover an exceptional holding midfielder.”
Speaking in a news conference ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield — the annual season curtain-raiser between the Premier League champion and the FA Cup winner — against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, Guardiola said City could still sign a player in the final week of the transfer window but only if he is a “special player for the future, not just for the numbers.”
Douglas would be a sizeable downgrade from Jorginho, who has already impressed in preseason games for Chelsea with his sharp passing and positioning.
Douglas, a Brazil Under-20 midfielder, joined on a five-year deal for a reported 10 million pounds (now $13 million) and was described as “an exciting player with great potential” by Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football.
Ilkay Gundogan is another option for City as a midfield anchorman, although the Germany international prefers to play in a more attacking role.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80