Fundamentally, it’s hardly surprising that one of Manchester City’s most significant takeaways from the 2019-20 season is the need for improved quality and reliability in the defensive third. For much of the current campaign, the Citizens have been troubled at the back, particularly in regard to their left-sided full-back. So, with that in mind, let’s consider whether the Sky Blues have made an error in potentially allowing Angelino to leave the club.
The Citizens Need for Defensive Reinforcements at Left-Back
Despite being the most successful English team of the last decade, the reigning 2018-19 Premier League champions have struggled, mainly because of their defensive frailties, to keep pace with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Going forward, City have been impressive once again, with Sergio Aguero being 5/1 to win the golden boot with betting on football at Space Casino come the end of the season as of June 5th. However, that has ultimately not been their downfall in seeking to claim a third successive league title.
Although the problem has been most evident at the heart of the Sky Blues' defence during the four-month period which Aymeric Laporte was out with a knee injury, left-back has also proved to be a troublesome position for Pep Guardiola. Much like his fellow Frenchman, Benjamin Mendy has also spent a lot of time on the treatment table.
As a result, City’s £50-million signing from Monaco in 2017 has featured in only 14 league games at the time of writing, according to his Premier League profile. In turn, this has seen Oleksandr Zinchenko feature more regularly than many expected at the start of the campaign.
While the Ukrainian has, for the most part, impressed from a defensive standpoint, he’s failed to provide much creativity in the offensive third. Although this is not generally considered as a defining quality of a top-class full-back, Guardiola’s career has showcased his desire to have forward-thinking defenders across the back-line. Because of this, there’s a case to be made that a little more patience with Angelino would have provided City with an intriguing option.
Catching the Eye in Germany
For many, the lasting memory of the Spanish full-back's time at the Etihad is his below-par display against Liverpool on Merseyside. However, given that the Citizens have long struggled at Anfield, this game can be taken as something of an anomaly and not a fair representation of Angelino’s capabilities.
As per a report by the Manchester Evening News, the Spaniard opted to leave City for RB Leipzig because of a lack of first team opportunities. From a personal perspective, the move has, thus far, worked out reasonably well for the Sky Blues' former academy graduate. Since joining the Red Bull-owned club on Deadline Day back in January, the full-back has impressed, with reports suggesting that Julian Nagelsmann’s side are keen on making the deal permanent.
At the time of writing, Angelino has played 11 games for Leipzig, including the full 90 minutes in each of their Champions League last-16 matches against Tottenham Hotspur. Moreover, across all competitions for the German side, the 23-year-old has contributed one goal and three assists in Nagelsmann’s attack-minded system.
A Potentially Cost-Effective Long-Term Option
While it remains to be seen as to whether Leipzig will opt to make Angelino’s transfer permanent, there are no guarantees that, should he return to Manchester, he would be given increased opportunities. Typically, all aspects of City’s recruitment is conducted in a well-thought-out manner, but letting Angelino move on could prove to be a mistake given his improved defensive capabilities, offensive threat, and reliability.