Pep Guardiola claims Manchester City’s failure to sign a centre-back over the summer could prove a blessing in disguise.
The champions’ lack of cover in the central defensive positions was highlighted on Saturday as Aymeric Laporte suffered a serious-looking knee injury during the 4-0 win against Brighton.
With John Stones also missing the game through injury, midfielder Fernandinho was pressed into action as a makeshift defender.
Nicolas Otamendi is City’s only other senior centre-half following the departure of former captain Vincent Kompany at the end of last season.
City were linked with England’s Harry Maguire over the summer but refused to meet Leicester’s demands for a player who eventually joined Manchester United for £80million.
“We could not buy like the opponents or (for what) teams ask for these players. People believe (we can) still – of course we spent a lot two seasons ago – but last season one player, this season a little bit more, so we could not pay the money wanted.
“But we have an alternative and sometimes when that happens, the team unites better and we are going to find solutions to do that.”
City are still to reveal the full extent of Laporte’s injury. The club, who have already lost Leroy Sane to a long-term knee injury this season, fear a lengthy lay-off.
The injury certainly seems to have ended the 25-year-old’s hopes of making his France debut in their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.
The option of using Fernandinho is one that Guardiola began to talk up in the summer as it became clear the club had not found a direct replacement for Kompany. The signing of a new defensive midfielder in Rodri does free up the Brazilian.
Guardiola said: “It happens because he is a nice guy, because he is open minded. He is a typical captain, he thinks for the group more than himself.
“He is a guy who is incredibly respected in the locker room and by our staff and that is why he can do it.”
Another possibility would be Kyle Walker with new signing Joao Cancelo coming in at right-back.
Guardiola said: “One day (if we) need to put Kyle Walker like a central defender, he is going to play central defender.”
Rodri, who has settled in well at the Etihad Stadium, expressed his sympathy for Laporte.
The Spain international said: “It looked serious, that’s why we were not very happy on Saturday. He’s a very important player for the team and it’s going to be tough without him.
“This is football, this is how it works but I think we have enough in the team to cope with it.
“Fernandinho is a great player, he can play also as a centre-back. He did very well there and took on the responsibility to take the ball, so it’s good for the team.”
City also expect to have Stones available again for their next game on September 14.
“I think for the next game against Norwich he will be ready,” Guardiola said.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.