Connect in the back of the net

On August 2014, French defender Eliaquim Mangala signed for Manchester City for a reported fee of around £31.8 million; well, that was the initial sum anyway before it was infamously leaked as an alleged £42 million transfer. Since then almost a year and a half has elapsed along with many lackluster performances as the originally highly anticipated defender has been arguably dire.

Often at the centre of most of Manchester City’s wrongdoings at the back, when he is playing of course, Mangala is still searching for that all important consistency. Still yet to mark his footprint at the Etihad, every performance now is a bid to finally display some of the potential that earned him his large money move, before he is inevitably shipped out, just as Jerome Boateng found out.

This, especially with the imminent arrival of a certain Pep Guardiola creating curiosity in in regards to whether the ex-Porto star will in fact be shunned to the side or perhaps taken under the wings of the coach who is no stranger to reforming a player under his expert mentorship.

 

Another difficult season

Nonetheless, 2015/16 has represented itself as another difficult season for the 25-year-old who began the campaign with the notion that he may not be the most valued defender in the side. This, due to reports in the summer that the Frenchman was linked with Valencia in a deal that would have seen him move to Spain on a two-year loan deal with Nicolas Otamendi included.

However, the deal ultimately did not happen; only Otamendi arrived. Many months have passed and the two defenders have severely struggled to perform and communicate to a consistent level in the Premier League, more so when Vincent Kompany has been unavailable.

Just a few months until the season’s end and fortunes have not necessarily changed for Mangala, his 17 appearances at the back have been mediocre at best with only slight glimpses of dominance.

Therefore, as this extraordinary season draws ever closer to its’ exciting finish, the man from Colombes, France will be conscious of Guardiola’s arrival and the conception that the Catalonian will have an initial idea who his most influential and important players will be.

Consequently, the defender will look to cement himself firmly within the City defence and finally start to repay back some of that colossal investment City laid out for the him by presenting why he was so highly regarded before the Spaniard’s arrival.

 

Blow

However, this weekend saw another blow to his hopes of improving: with the failure of making the bench at Carrow Road. Despite, returning to training earlier this week and supposedly being deemed fit again, Pellegrini decided to opt against fielding or even benching the ex Standard Liege man as his side played out to a goalless draw with Norwich.

The defenders’ ability and potential was clear for all to see in Portugal, helping Porto to their domestic league title on two occasions, with impressive performances at the back alongside fellow City players, Otamendi and Fernando.

Which in turn, prompted various admirers to make a move with teams such as Chelsea, Manchester United and even Real Madrid apparently keen before City threw in the serious money.

The present, however, is another story as the player’s performances are continuously ridiculed and questioned as Manchester City fans continue to wait to see why their club invested so much money.

 

Fading hopes

And with the season approaching its final stages, Eliaquim Mangala will hope that Pellegrini will find space in his defence for the confidence-lacking Frenchman to finally demonstrate why he may deserve a late chance to transform himself under the supervision of Pep Guardiola, in hope of being a part of his future Manchester City team.

However, as the season passes, his hopes begin to slim despite there once being a time where his form elevated him to be lauded as one of best defensive properties in Europe. Perhaps he can one day reignite that form, but he must start to perform now.

 

Written by Robson Friend

Follow Robson on Twitter @RobMFriend

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