Analysis

Manchester City are keen to add to their midfield depth next season with Manuel Locatelli on their radar

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For far too long, Manuel Locatelli has been destined for a move to one of Europe’s top clubs and while the likes of Chelsea, PSG, and Manchester United have hovered around for the Italian’s signature, nobody ever made any actual effort to secure his services. The youngster was impressive at AC Milan, as he featured for the first team while he was only 17 years old and although he made only 2 appearances, people around the club could see what he was made of.

In the next 2 seasons, the youngster went on to appear 61 times for the Rossoneri and while other clubs waited around to see if they have the money to bring the Italian to their ranks due to his impressive performances from defensive midfield, Sassuolo jumped the gun and brought the then 20-year-old Locatelli to their side on a year-long loan deal. He certainly made an impact at the club, which is why in July 2019, Sassuolo brought Locatelli to their side for 12.5 million Euros on a permanent basis.

MANCHESTER CITY ARE KEEN ON MANUEL LOCATELLI:

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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City will be romping up to yet another Premier League title, but the start of the season did appear to show some cracks in the way they play and Guardiola is keen on repairing them.

With Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero uncertain members of the squad next season, Guardiola will have to cope with a system that will be able to function without a proper striker and his goals, which is why we could see Manchester City begin to move towards more of 4-2-3-1 system, where they operate with 4 of their finest midfielders, none of whom will operate as a striker, with Phil Foden playing as a false nine, something Guardiola tried with Lionel Messi time & again in his time at Barcelona.

You then need 2 absolutely reliant defensive midfielders who can keep the ball ticking or retain the ball back and feed into the path of the front 4. Rodri will certainly form one part of that midfield pivot while Manuel Locatelli could be the answer to the other half.

Locatelli excels in most areas Guardiola would want a player too. The Sassuolo’s midfielder’s range of passing is currently one of the best in Serie A, while the concept of tactical fouls is something the Italian has also mastered. Dribbling out of trouble, keeping a calm mind, and working your way through pressure situations makes you a Guardiola midfielder and the Spaniard expects nothing less. It is important to note that in 2018, Guardiola was keen on Jorginho because he loved the midfielder’s contribution in a game while he enjoyed the Italian’s finesse on the ball.

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Locatelli is no different and his defensive work-rate is probably better than Jorginho’s, while his aerial presence is also an added factor. At 6’1, Locatelli can ensure winning all the 50-50’s and keep the defense and midfield completely resolute.

Sassuolo understands that they may not be able to keep the midfielder any longer at the club which was evidenced by their Club Director’s statement saying- “My hope is that it’s to a very great club: whether it be Juventus or Manchester City or others of global value, I don’t know. He deserves it and has the ability to aspire to it”.

Sassuolo are set to hold out for at-least a 40million euros for the 23-year-old. Manchester City may be prioritizing a striker next summer, but Guardiola would know it is always the midfield that makes a team tick and he would not want to lose out on a talent like Manuel Locatelli.

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