Pep Guardiola has hailed defender Nicolas Otamendi as Manchester City’s ‘Superman’.
Most of the plaudits during the Premier League leaders’ record 18-game winning streak have been shared among their formidable attacking players.
But centre-back Otamendi has also been vitally important, both defensively and by contributing to other aspects of play.
The Argentinian, who is arguably City’s most improved player this season, has proved a key component of the attacking build-up and has also weighed in with five goals in all competitions.
City manager Guardiola said: “We have a ‘Superman’ in the team, as Nico Otamendi helped us absolutely. Without Nico, it would not be possible, what we have done.
“Everyone speaks about players such as Raheem (Sterling), like David (Silva), like Kevin (De Bruyne), like Sergio (Aguero) – and they deserve it – but if I would like to point to a player who deserves full respect, for what they have done until now, it’s Nico. Nico has been amazing.
“He is a guy who, even with pain in the ankle, in the knee, in the back, always fights. He’s one the hugest competitors I’ve ever seen in my life. He was so important.”
Guardiola’s praise for Otamendi comes at a time when City are thought to be considering buying another centre-back in the January transfer window. Otamendi has missed just one Premier League match this season – through suspension – but John Stones and Vincent Kompany have both had injuries, leaving Eliaquim Mangala as the only cover.
But Guardiola said: “I don’t know what will happen. Maybe if we are in the position with Vincent and what happened to John Stones (we could buy), but we cannot forget Mangala has helped us a lot.
“If I have to live for the rest of the season with these players, and with the young players, we are going to live with that.”