Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini walks one of the tightest tight-ropes any manager in footballing history has ever had to perform such a balancing act upon – one the one hand, he has been given almost unlimited resources but, as is so often the case, with great power comes great responsibility.
City’s early exit from the Champion’s League yet again this year has heaped an almost unprecedented weight of expectation on Mancini to win the Premier League which, as things stand currently, he would (figuratively) not only have to climb Everest, but defeat Goliath once he gets there.
His job and his reputation as one of the most gifted professional managers in the modern game at one of the biggest clubs in the land are both on the line and, should he fail to secure the league title this year, I fear his head will be one to roll.
However, ever the optimist, Mancini may look to bring in another signing yet – not just an ordinary player but someone who genuinely can resuscitate their season’s objective. You might fancy a Radamel Falcao or a Stefan Jovetic, maybe even an Edinson Cavani?
I think they need Isco.
City already have three strikers who are capable, in their current form, of scoring a goal every three shots they strike. That’s an incredible ratio for one striker at a club, never mind to have three with that level of technique, focus, and perpetual form.
They don’t need another striker – Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez are performing as close to their best ability right now and if Mancini wants to bring in some comic relief in the form of Mario Balotelli, he still has that option.
Where he doesn’t have an alternative option is in the very heart of his team – the nucleus, the cog right in the middle of the City wheel. David Silva has become one of the most exceptionally gifted and industrious playmakers in the world since his arrival at the Etihad.
He was very very good at Valencia but he is world-class now. His name no longer sounds out of place in a starting line-up with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, or Cesc Fabregas when he plays for the Spanish national team.
As mentioned earlier, with great power comes great responsibility – the irony is that Silva’s unrivalled quality at City makes him not only irreplaceable but also means he is expected to create and imagine and construct everything around him and he never really gets much of rest.
Despite the array of technically gifted players at City (Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, and Samir Nasri) none of them can operate in Silva’s role – not adequately anyway.
Silva has now played 20 out of 23 Premier League games, 4 in the Champion’s League, once in the FA Cup. City need a player with a similar skill set who can genuinely fill in for him and, crucially, contribute creatively in collaboration with him to make his burden more bearable.
Isco is one of the only other relatively available players who is capable of that role. Like Silva, the 20-year-old is a former Valencia youth and, as he showed in the Champion’s League this season with Malaga against the likes of PSG, he ready willing and able to become the next world-beater.
He has currently a buyout clause of just £17 million in his contract with Malaga - that’s nothing to City, in relative terms; it would be pocket change for one of the most gifted midfielders on the planet. In fact, I’d put money on him being better than David Silva in a year or two.
Isco could save David Silva from burnout, Roberto Mancini from the chop and Manchester City's title hopes all in one fell swoop.
image: © ins11thiago