Why Man City signing Manuel Locatelli would bolster their midfield
However, Pep Guardiola’s side are expected to face stiff competition from reigning Serie A champions Juventus in their pursuit of the 23-year-old. Locatelli, who has 6 caps for Italy at the senior international level, has also been linked with a return to his boyhood club AC Milan. (h/t Daily Mail)
A youth exponent of Milan, Locatelli made his competitive debut for the Rossoneri during the 2015-16 campaign and went on to feature 63 times for the club over three seasons. He eventually moved to Sassuolo in 2018 in search of regular game time and has gradually evolved into one of the best young central midfielders in the Serie A.
Locatelli has amassed 5 goals and 9 assists in 81 appearances for Sassuolo in all competitions, establishing himself as a key cog in the midfield for Roberto De Zebri’s side.
As per the report, the Italy international is open to a move abroad next summer but won’t be available for anything below £30million. He still has several years left on his contract until 2023, thus putting Sassuolo in a strong negotiating position over the player.
Meanwhile, Man City can certainly do with some fresh additions to the central midfield department next summer. Fernandinho is set to turn 36 in May and is out of contract at the end of the season.
It remains unclear whether the Brazilian would be offered a new deal to extend his stay at the Etihad. But he’s unlikely to play week in week out given his advancing years.
The Cityzens did rope in Rodrigo Hernandez as a long-term replacement for Fernandinho. The Spaniard has enjoyed an impressive start to life in the Premier League, establishing himself as an undisputed starter under Guardiola.
Having said that, however, City should still be on the lookout for further reinforcements in the middle with one eye on the future. Ilkay Gundogan remains an integral part of the manager’s plans but the German international is already 30.
Manuel Locatelli ticks plenty of boxes at Man City as an excellent all-around midfielder with plenty of room for development. The 23-year-old is capable of playing in box-to-box and defensive roles in the middle, thus making him an ideal fit for Guardiola’s preferred three-man midfield in a possession-based system.
As evident from his heap map in the Serie A this season, Locatelli is also capable of contributing at both ends of the pitch with his uncompromised work rate. That, coupled with his eye for goals and assists, should make him a dynamic addition to Man City’s midfield.
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Manuel Locatelli already boasts an impressive CV for a played aged just 23. The midfielder has racked up close to 150 appearances in his homeland while also earning recognition as an Italy international. With his best years still very much ahead of him, Man City should not hesitate to splash the cash on the Sassuolo star next summer.