Everything is relative.
Compared to most teams, Man City’s problems are so insignificant they aren’t worthy of discussion.
And yet, being the perfectionist that he is, Pep Guardiola will surely be concerned by his enduring full-back issue.
In his first season, the weary legs of Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna weren’t up to the demands of the style while Aleksandar Kolarov was shifted here (centre-back), there (defensive midfield) and everywhere (the bench).
Gael Clichy lacked imagination and solidity while Jesus Navas was occasionally utilised as an emergency wing-back — hardly a long-term solution.
In response, City deployed their financial might in the summer of 2017.
Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo became Etihad residents in the space of ten days in July.
A combined bill of £123.5million represented a sizeable investment.
18 months later, full-back remains Guardiola’s biggest headache with midfielders Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko employed at left-back in recent times.
Mendy has hardly kicked a ball for City since signing from Monaco for £52million.
The Frenchman has been mightily effective when fit enough – he raced to five assists at the start of the current season – but injury problems mean he’s better acquainted with City’s medical staff than any of his team-mates.
Danilo, for all his effort, is simply not consistent enough to be a regular starter for a team of City’s calibre.
Too many counterattacks are blunted by the Brazilian’s poor decision-making and he is far from error-free in defence.
Many City fans won’t have a bad word said against Walker, though his form this season is cause for concern.
The England international has regained his spot in the starting XI after being dropped in January but we have rarely seen him mimic last season’s form.
The 28-year-old’s pace allows him to recover from positional mishaps but the best wingers are able to exploit his naivety.
Rio Ferdinand called Walker a ‘liability’ in an off-air rant that somehow made its way around Twitter earlier this season.
City went 11 games without a clean sheet from late November to early January — not something you’d expect from the only team to acquire 100 points in a single Premier League campaign.
Class act Aymeric Laporte has been forced to play as a left-back in an attempt to add some stability to the back four.
The Frenchman is more than capable at left-back but Guardiola would undoubtedly prefer him at centre-back.
For £123.5million, City have Walker, a crock, and a player who simply isn’t up to it.
That’s why, just two years after their full-back splurge of 2017, they should go shopping at the same market at the end of this season.
We’re suggesting a double swoop for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Ben Chilwell.
The former could soon feature in Gareth Southgate’s plans while the latter has already established himself as an England regular post-World Cup.
21-year-old Wan-Bissaka has arguably been the league’s best right-back this season, impressing neutrals with his defensive contribution particularly.
No player has completed more tackles than the Crystal Palace defender at this stage of the season.
22-year-old Chilwell has been tipped for a big-money transfer for months now.
Our instinct is the Leicester left-back could be easily moulded to Guardiola’s liking.
Given their age and the premium attached to promising English talent, a conservative estimate for the pair would be £80million.
Would City be prepared to fork out over £200million on full-backs in two years?
If they want to reach the next level – a dizzying prospect – they should wield their infamous chequebook once more.
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