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Pep Guardiola reassure fan, says there are no need worrying about left back position

Given Pep Guardola's left-back problem, Man City may need two backup defenders.

With just 21 days until the transfer window closes, the upcoming three weeks may be the most crucial of Manchester City’s season.

City had a flawless start to the summer after signing Julian Alvarez in January and completing the move of Erling Haaland before to the transfer window opening. Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus left the team, but Kalvin Phillips joined shortly after, and the team’s balance appeared to be as solid as it was the year before.

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Aleks Zinchenko was let to go for Arsenal, revealing a full-back deficiency that currently only leaves Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo as the top choices in their positions. Although time is of the essence and this is a club that won’t enter the market for a player who isn’t a suitable fit, City want at least one new left-back.

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Pep Guardiola has stated that if such player cannot be identified, he will be satisfied with his choices. He has mentioned Nathan Ake and Josh Wilson-Esbrand as possibilities, while John Stones or Rico Lewis may play on the right to assist Walker. If necessary, Aymeric Laporte has also been deployed sparingly on the left.

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If Cancelo is unavailable, a natural left-back would be preferred; nevertheless, the past two players to fill that spot, Zinchenko and Fabian Delph, weren’t natural defenders and ended up flourishing there. Two choices are more clear than others if Guardiola has drop another midfielder back into defense.

First up is recent acquisition Phillips, who spent his first few City playing minutes in Houston as an impromptu center-back. He has experience playing defense and would be comparable to Delph as a holding midfielder who is moved for the sake of the team.

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Phillips might struggle to acquire playing time in defensive midfield, and before switching to a different position entirely, he will need to adjust to the new demands in that position. Cancelo might have to adjust, and if City’s efforts to find a new left-back are unsuccessful and he later sustains an injury, he might be one of the few free choices who is temporarily retrained at full-back.

Bernardo Silva, another one of the team’s few versatile midfielders, is capable of playing as a backup full-back (assuming he stays at the club). Even though Erling Haaland’s arrival may lessen the need for Bernardo’s recent seasons of excellent forward play.

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Early indications, however, indicate that he will play a little more subdued supporting role to Kevin De Bruyne, much like his understated but crucial positional role in 2019–20. Bernardo, who was benched on the first day of the season in favor of Ilkay Gundogan, may have enough tactical and positional understanding of Guardiola’s system to fill in as an emergency full-back occasionally this season, or as a wing-back if the formation is altered to accommodate the situation.

There was speculation about using Gabriel Jesus as a full-back during the previous season when Cancelo was suspended for the Champions League, but Guardiola decided to employ his attacking skills instead. Naturally, finding a new senior left-back will be the top priority this year, but Guardiola will be confident in his team’s adaptability in case someone needs to play in another position.

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