The Belgian international signed for Man City in 2008, pre-revolution, with little fanfare surrounding his arrival. Kompany's career had started with much hype after impressive performances for Anderlecht and the Belgium National team, but his star began to wane and it appeared that Kompany may not reach his potential when the big move never came and he had to settle for a transfer to Hamburg of the Bundesliga.
Performances for the German side were solid if unspectacular but Man City's scouts had seen enough potential and bought him in for a bargain fee of just £6 million.
Since then Kompany has flourished at the Manchester club and has elevated himself to the role of club captain. Whilst other star names have come and gone, Kompany has remained and improved season upon season.
Now firmly established as the Premier League's most intelligent and strongest central defender, the 26 year old was finally able to add a Premier League title to his collection of achievements. Sometimes achieving the highest success domestically can lead players to feel they have achieved all they can with their club and a desire can manifest itself to want to move on to achieve a wider variety of trophies in other countries, Kompany has turned this theory on it's head however and shown he wants to repay the loyalty shown by Man City through signing a contract renewal.
What Kompany now needs to do is prove himself on the biggest stage of club football, the Champions League. City's brief foray in the competition last year showed glimpses of Kompany's abilities but the defender was unable to truly stamp his mark on the tournament. A year on, with the experience the players now have behind them, it is time for Kompany to step up and assist City in competing with the powerhouses of European football.
But where does Kompany stand in terms of ability in comparison to the worlds other highly talented defenders? Is Kompany the World's best centre back at this moment in time? Let's look at his competition.
Thiago Silva - Paris St Germain
Brazilian's can't defend. That was the belief of most football fans and pundits ten years ago. Fast forward to the current day and Thiago Silva is just one of many talented Brazilian defenders bucking the trend and proving that Brazilians really can defend. Aspects of Silva's career at AC Milan parallel Kompany's, having signed for Milan back in 2008, seen as a player who had not made the most of his talents. Similarly to Kompany, Silva has gradually been improving into one of the Worlds best, season upon season and was handed the AC Milan captaincy in 2011. Unlike Kompany however Silva felt he had achieved all he could at Milan and made the move to big spending Paris St Germain this summer in a major coup for the French club.
Silva is not the tallest of centre back's but is extremely powerful. He's hard to knock off the ball and is able to possesses good speed across the ground as well as speed of thought. A formidable opponent, Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic has praised the Brazilian many times in the past, believing that he is currently the best in his position in world football.
Gerard Pique - Barcelona
Pique is a product of Barcelona's hugely successful academy, but at the tender age of just 17 years was prized away from the club by Alex Ferguson, seen as a star of the future. At Manchester United Pique struggled to break through to the first team however with Ferguson preferring a structured central pairing of Ferdinand and Vidic that had combined so effectively. When Barcelona came in with an offer to sign Pique back for £5 million, Ferguson is said to have believed that Jonny Evans carried more potential than Pique, so allowed the transfer to be sanctioned. Back at Barcelona it didn't take Pique long to break through and has formed a highly successful partnership alongside Carles Puyol both at domestic and international level. Pique's suffered from indifferent form last season but as the saying goes 'form is temporary, class is permanent'.
Pique is not the fastest player in world football by any means but his reading of the game is excellent and he positions himself well to keep opposition attacks to a limit. Strong in the air, he commands respect and not many strikers can claim to have got the better of the Spaniard. Italian legend Paolo Maldini has previously described Pique as 'class' and 'one of the best'.
Pepe - Real Madrid
Like Thiago Silva, Pepe is a Brazilian product, having lived in South America until he reached 18 years old. Pepe has had to slog his way around the Portugese League rising up from obscurity in the Maritimo B team. When finally given the chance to shine with Maritimo, Pepe impressed scouts of both Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto, but Lisbon baulked at the transfer fee requested. In 2004 he completed his move to FC Porto and soon after had forced his way into the first team. A key member of Porto's recent European success, Pepe shone regularly and Real Madrid decided this was a player they needed. In todays market the fee of £24 million paid out to Porto now looks like peanuts for a player of Pepe's abilities and the 29 year old can now boast a La Liga title as an ever present member of the title winning side.
Pepe has all the skills required to become one of Portugal's greatest defenders with his armoury including a mass selection of weapons whether it be his aerial dominance through both defending and attacking, or his superior strength that has at times been labelled overly robust. Pepe has received plenty of criticism for his combative style of play from fellow pro's but is widely accepted as one of the world's elite defenders.
Mats Hummels - Borrusia Dortmund
A product of Bayern's Munich's academy, Hummels first appearances were for Bayern Munich's second team in the 2006 season, where he became a regular starter and consistent performer at just 18 years of age, prompting a promotion to the first team squad. Here the German struggled to break into the first team with established pro's Martin Demichelis, Lucio and Daniel Van Buyten all ahead in the pecking order. Borussia Dortmund had been keeping tabs on Hummels however and threw him a rope by first taking him on loan before finalising a transfer for just £3 million. At Dortmund he has proven to be a key member of the first team and is now firmly established in the German national team. Bundesliga titles in 2010/11 and 2011/12 have cemented Borussia's reputation as a dangerous European force and retaining Hummels will be hugely important to keeping the team challenging for titles.
In terms of his style of play, many have compared the youngster, just 23, to German legend Franz Beckenbauer. He reads the game well, is able to play the ball out of defence well and has the tactical nous combined with all the necessary attributes to become a very fine defender. Placed in the Euro 2012 team of the tournament, Hummels star continues to rise. Expect to hear more praise in the future.
Of course there are also other contenders for the crown of the worlds best central defender such as Carles Puyol, Giorgio Chiellini, Nemanja Vidic, Sergio Ramos and Holger Badstuber, to name but a few. But in my opinion there is no doubt that Kompany, Silva, Pique, Pepe and Hummels are the strongest candidates currently.
Is Kompany better than his rivals? It's debatable. Personally, I think he has a way to go before catching up with Thiago Silva. But as Kompany has shown throughout his career, you can never keep him down and he will continue to improve.
Where do you think Kompany rates amongst these big names?
image: © alfonso jimenez