After stumping up a contract reportedly worth in excess of £100,000 a week to tempt versatile defender Bacary Sagna from Arsenal on a ‘free’, Manchester City’s decision to hand the 49-cap France international just 14 all-competition starts last season was a bit odd.
Even stranger was Manuel Pellegrini’s perseverance in sticking with Sagna’s fellow Les Bleus international Eliaquim Mangala, who set City back over £30m 12 months ago, and captain Vincent Kompany at centre-half when the pair were stinking the place out at times last term.
The Chilean did eventually relent and take Mangala out of the firing line, with veteran Argentine Martin Demichelis starting 28 top-flight matches due to the 24-year-old’s poor form, combined with Kompany missing 13 Premier League games through injury.
After such a tricky term at the back, and with Demichelis turning 35 before the year is out, targeting a new centre-half while the transfer window is open would seem a prudent course of action, but with hardly a rumour to be found regarding such a move, Sagna will expect to be involved more frequently next term.
The 32-year-old may be on the short side for a player in the position at 5ft9, but that didn’t stop him filling in fantastically next to both Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker at the start of his last campaign at the Emirates, after injuries threatened to derail the Gunners’ season early doors.
Arsene Wenger’s charges won all four of their Premier League fixtures featuring Sagna at centre-half that term, keeping two clean sheets and conceding just twice in 3-1 wins away to Fulham and Sunderland.
The former Auxerre man’s steadying influence aided Arsenal’s charge to the top of the table in the first half of the campaign; they failed to win just six of their first 23 league fixtures and went unbeaten at home following an opening day loss to Aston Villa at the Emirates.
Having convinced Sagna to move north with a wedge of cash last summer, City really ought to start getting the best out of him.