Otamendi the Main Man for Man City

Consistent performer: Otamendi. (via Wikimedia Commons).
Consistent performer: Otamendi. (via Wikimedia Commons). /

Having signed from Valencia for a fee of approximately £31.5m Nicolas Otamendi arrived in Manchester amidst a barrage of media speculation which lasted several weeks. Indeed, at one point it was looking increasingly likely the Argentine defender was set to join Manchester United, but subsequently he chose the blue half of Manchester for the next step in his career.. 

There were several worries for Otamendi from pundits following his move to Manchester City. Typical clichés about adapting to the pace of the league were bandied about, but in retrospect, that hasn’t applied to Otamendi at Manchester City. Although it has taken some time for the Argentine to stake a place in the starting XI, he now looks immovable in Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Fresh from a consummate performance at his old rivals Sevilla, Manchester City put in their best Champions League performance to date, with Otamendi starting in central defence once more, as the Citizens won 3-1 at the often intimidating Pizjuan stadium.

However, it was the central-defender’s prior two performances in which he has really looked the part for Man City. Alongside Vincent Kompany, the pair’s aggressive – and at times risky – front-foot defending is an audacious but very impressive style. Otamendi has aligned an aggression and precision in defending, alongside an underrated ability on the ball, which goes without saying, is a prerequisite for Pellegrini’s team.

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Otamendi’s performances haven’t just looked good on the eye either, but have stacked up equally impressive numbers. The CIES Football Observatory this week rated Otamendi as the highest performing central-defender in across Europe’s top five leagues this season.

It seems that his high rating was the product of an ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents through effective duelling. In his last two games, he has earned ratings of 8.91 and 7.94 on WhoScored.com, winning a total of eight aerial duels, making 161 touches, creating two shots on target (one goal) and against Norwich, completing a passing accuracy of 91.4%.

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Just last weekend, Otamendi showed an extra trait he has which keeps him ahead of most top defenders – an ability in front of goal. Scoring six last season he was among the most potent defenders across Europe. His goal against Norwich was a powerful header, leaving John Ruddy with no chance of saving the shot.

In the previous game Otamendi played in the Manchester Derby, and although Man United are far from their best currently, the tense atmosphere brought the best out of the defender, who looked by far the best defender on the pitch that day through not only his aggressive defending, but poise and composure on the ball too. His stats for the derby read as follows: 10 clearances, three interceptions three tackles won two aerial duels won.

Otamendi looks to have made his place in Manchester City’s strongest XI his own. Given Kompany’s injury problems he will probably end up as the City defender with most appearances – and not to forget – probably most goals too.