According to reports by The Athletic, Manchester City are set to sign Leila Ouahabi and Laia Aleixandri on free transfers. The Citizens have already signed Deyna Castellanos from Atlético Madrid, and now her former teammate Leia Aleixandri has joined her. Leila Ouahabi joins from Barcelona, after a season where she was battling for a starting berth.
Leila Ouahabi spent 13 years of her career with Barcelona, however, the 29-year-old has decided to leave La Blaugrana to start afresh in the WSL with the Sky Blues. She has not played any football outside of the Spanish footballing pyramid, so it’ll be interesting to see how she copes with the switch.
Laia Aleixandri is a fair bit younger than Ouahabi, at 21, so this could be good for Manchester City long term depending on if they can convince her to tie herself down to a contract as long or even longer than Deyna’s. Laia formerly played for Barcelona’s youth and B team’s, before departing to Atlético for more opportunities. Heard this story before someone here? It’s very similar to Ona Batlle’s, someone who I have previously written about.
She leaves Atlético Madrid after 5 years due to her contract expiring. During her time there, she has been able to go from being new to the Spain U19’s, to making numerous caps for the senior national team side. She has also played just shy of 100 games for Atlético, so to say she has had lots of experience in the game so far.
Manchester City have been looking to rebuild their squad, and Aleixandri and Ouahabi will help to increase their numbers in defence, which have been relatively low since the likes of Gemma Bonner and Abby Dahlkemper last season, who they never really replaced. So after Bronze left, they only had 5 defenders, so these 2 new signings will be crucial if they want to stay ahead of Manchester United next season..
HOW COULD MANCHESTER CITY RESHUFFLE THEIR DEFENCE?
Manchester City currently have 5 defenders: Demi Stokes, Alex Greenwood, Esme Morgan, Alanna Kennedy and Steph Houghton. Ruby Mace can fill in if need be, but you’re looking at primarily 5 defenders. If you add Lelia and Laia into that it becomes 7, a much more secure number. Chelsea, for example, have 8, with only 7 of them being fit enough for last season.
Manchester City typically plays with a back 4, meaning that they would likely have 4 defenders who can fill in a centre back, and 2 for each full-back spot, with rotation between the spots obviously helpful. Leila Ouahabi is primarily a left-back, and Laia typically plays at centre back.
Due to neither of them being right-backs, which was Bronze’s position, they are still short in that area. So, they could also either bump Morgan up to starting right back, or they could decide to buy another right-back to replace her. They likely won’t play them out of position, but we’ll have to wait and see.