Man City already has a replacement for Joao Cancelo.

Man City already has a replacement for Joao Cancelo.

The summer seemed to be going wrong for Manchester City at one point.

When Ilkay Gundogan left for Barcelona, Mateo Kovacic was brought in to make up the difference, but City doesn’t see Kovacic as a direct replacement and is looking for another middle player. They moved to acquire Declan Rice but withdrew after their £95 million offer was turned down. They are currently pursuing Lucas Paqueta.

Riyad Mahrez accepted an offer that was too good to pass up, but with his departure, Pep Guardiola lost another of his most seasoned players—one who has scored so many goals in six years. Then it became apparent that yet another stalwart would be leaving when it was revealed that Kyle Walker was considering his options seriously and was open to joining Bayern Munich.

Josko Gvardiol, a top target, was still being pursued throughout this time.

Although there was growing fan unease, the club remained confident that a deal would be reached.

It almost seems as though Manchester’s miserable summer itself has been reflected in City’s transfer window. Before the sun finally made a belated appearance, it was rainy and dull throughout July and the first few days of August. The Blues’ eventual capture of Gvardiol represented a break in the clouds, and the likelihood that Walker will now remain at the club represents the long-awaited sun.

It hasn’t exactly been a perfect window. Although the pursuit of Paqueta is still puzzling and City hasn’t decided how to best replace Mahrez, the fact that the defense is now in order is a huge plus.

Walker is a player who City can probably live without, even though it would have been a bad idea to lose three of the squad’s most seasoned players in a single transfer window. City have grown accustomed to losing legends.

However, the all-centre-back defense worked well last season and he didn’t start the Champions League final.

Despite the fact that they are much stronger with him, he is a superb defender who offers versatility and unmatched pace.

But with Joao Cancelo appearing to be on the verge of leaving, losing him this summer would have been disastrous. After spending the preseason on loan at Bayern Munich, the Portuguese player was invited back into the fold. He even showed signs of improvement, but it was always anticipated that he would leave the club permanently. According to reports, he will travel to Barcelona next.

There wouldn’t have been any senior, natural full-backs for City if Walker and Cancelo both left. Sergio Gomez is better suited to an attacking role while Rico Lewis, who is still only a teenager, is more promising. To sign one, a change to the plans would have needed to be made.

In addition to ensuring that they have full-back coverage when Cancelo eventually leaves, Walker’s continued presence also means that Gvardiol has already taken his place.

Despite being primarily a center back, the Croatian has played left back several times throughout his career, most recently on Friday when he made his debut against Burnley. Gvardiol’s cameo lasted only 16 minutes, but during that time he looked extremely at ease while playing the traditional full-back position of guarding the flank as opposed to moving into midfield.

He effectively controlled the elusive Manuel Benson, displayed a deceptive turn of speed to charge forward in attack, and possessed the kind of close control you’d expect from a City player. Even though it was only a brief performance, it showed promise.

It was believed that Gvardiol and Ruben Dias would make a formidable pairing, and that may still be the case, but the fact that the 21-year-old has already shown that he is capable of playing at left-back only gives Guardiola more options. Along with Nathan Ake, John Stones, Manuel Akanji, and, for the time being at least, Aymeric Laporte, there are now five center backs who can play out wide. Lewis is a possibility as well as Walker, a full-back who can play in the middle. Gvardiol is just the most recent example of how versatility is a crucial quality for City signings.

City didn’t really struggle last season without Cancelo, but they’ve since made preparations to possibly perform even better if he leaves again.

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