Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah highlighted the one glaring weakness in Man City’s squad during the Community Shield, and one pundit thinks Pep Guardiola may be willing to take a surprise gamble.
The Reds lifted the season’s first piece of silverware last weekend when defeating Man City 3-1 in the Community Shield. Liverpool looked both the fitter and sharper of the two sides with City lacking rhythm and composure in their passing and patterns of play.
Mohamed Salah in particular looked a man on a mission and caused Joao Cancelo all manner of problems down City’s left.
The Portuguese is a natural right-footer playing out of position on the left. That has not been a problem in recent seasons with Cancelo developing into a legitimately world class operator under Guardiola.
However, Cancelo also doubles up as chief deputy to Kyle Walker at right-back. The England international is now 32 and Cancelo may be shifted between the flanks more often than ever this season.
Yet with Oleksandr Zinchenko sold to Arsenal, Man City do not boast any other recognised, senior full-backs on their books.
They bid for Brighton’s Marc Cucurella, though their unwillingness to match the £50m valuation left the door ajar for Chelsea. The Blues have since agreed personal terms with the Spaniard.
Anderlecht’s Sergio Gomez has been targeted, though per the Athletic, City only consider the 21-year-old a ‘development talent’. The drop off between Cancelo and Gomez would be huge if he were signed and called upon next season.
Now, speaking to Football Insider, former Premier League goalkeeper, Paul Robinson, claimed Salah may have exposed the one chink in City’s armour on Saturday.
What’s more, Robinson claimed City’s reluctance to go big for a depth piece suggests Guardiola may be wiling to start the season with no more major arrivals.
Cancelo was “exposed” by Salah – Robinson
“Cancelo did brilliantly at left-back last season,” said Robinson. “He was in my team of the year. He was outstanding.
“It has to be said though, he had a tough afternoon against Salah. He was exposed one on one against him.
“City have Cancelo and they have Nathan Ake as left-back options.
“But if they could strengthen anywhere it would be at left-back. I don’t think it would be a disaster if they did not sign one though.
“Cucurella would have been a great fit. But Man City do not want to be held to ransom and overpay for a player. Brighton are in a very strong position.
“It looks like City are going to start the season without a recognised left-back.”
Guardiola’s bluffing on full-back issue?
When asked about City’s reluctance to meet the Cucurella valuation, Guardiola recently said: “He’s a Brighton player. I cannot say anything else.
“If it’s possible [to strengthen we will] but if not, we stay with the players we have.
“Joao can play there; Josh [Wilson-Esbrand] can play there; Nathan [Ake] can play there. I never complain about the squad I have since the first season. It is always for the benefit of the club, not for me, and I support the club.”
The proof is in the pudding with City refusing to stretch to £50m for Cucurella who looked a seamless fit on paper. However, that is not the same as saying City won’t add first-team depth before the window closes on September 1.
Goal claimed Stuttgart’s Borna Sosa and Wolves’ Rayan Ait-Nouri have both been scouted. Reports in Portugal have also put former Arsenal target Alex Grimaldo on their radar.
Given the margins between City and Liverpool have been razor thin in recent times, it appears extremely unwise to enter a season with such an obvious issue unaddressed.