Manchester City Swiss defender Manuel Akanji (right)
London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola believes Manuel Akanji will be the “perfect” fit for Manchester City after signing the Swiss defender from Borussia Dortmund on the transfer deadline.
City have responded to Guardiola’s concerns about the midfielder’s fragile fitness by paying 15 million pounds ($17 million) to bring Akanji to the Etihad on a five-year contract.
The 27-year-old will provide valuable coverage for Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake, whose recent injuries have highlighted the need for central defensive reinforcements.
“We had four great defenders before Manu but sometimes Aime had serious injuries. He’s improving but a month or a month and a half is still out,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“Nathan last month had some concerns about muscle issues, so we only had a couple of defenders with this incredibly busy schedule ahead of us.
“We had the opportunity to bring in one player, with only one year left on his contract in Dortmund, with a lot of experience in Germany and the national team with Switzerland.
“It fit just what we needed. It’s fast and really good at building.”
“We knew it, we felt it, when we played against Dortmund two or three seasons ago, and yes, I’m very happy to have him here and a good competition for the central defence.”
Ake may be in line to return to action on Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa, but Laporte is unlikely to return from a knee injury until October.
You said a month ago that it would end in September and October. “I think he will be ready maybe after the international break, he will start preparing,” Guardiola said.
“I can’t forget that I was in that position and the problems I had against West Ham away and the last game against Aston Villa, we had no other alternative because Robben (Dias) was injured, Nathan was injured.
“This is another reason why we chose Manu Akanji but we will be fine.
“But it was time after surgery, so end of September, beginning of October. It was (a) bone problem but I am not a doctor.”
Akanji is hoping to feature against Villa, but all eyes will be on his former Dortmund teammate Erling Haaland after he scored a hat-trick in City’s last two matches.
After being criticized by critics for missing several chances in the Community Shield’s defeat to Liverpool, the Norwegian striker scored nine goals in his first five league matches.
“A month ago it was a disaster because of the Community Shield and now he’s going to break everything in the record books,” Guardiola said of Haaland, who silences skeptics.
“So, I can’t foresee what will happen. That is why I am not a guy who works in this field (rare).
“I admire all those who can anticipate what might happen in the future – in the next ten or twelve months. I am unable to do that.”