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Manchester City: 8 Players Who Have Improved Dramatically Under Roberto Mancini

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 11, 2016

Manchester City: 8 Players Who Have Improved Dramatically Under Roberto Mancini

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    Roberto Mancini hasn't just come to Manchester City and won trophies. He hasn't just bought tonnes of players either.

    Much of the stock that he found at the club on arrival has improved dramatically under his stewardship, and in some cases this has stopped certain players from becoming flops.

    Here are eight players who have come on leaps and bounds since the Italian arrived at the Etihad.

Vincent Kompany

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    For this one, you'll have to ignore his start to the current season—he's been awful, as have most of Manchester City's centre-backs.

    But Vincent Kompany was never threatening to become the world-class defender he is today under Mark Hughes, and Roberto Mancini's decision to stop switching him between defence and midfield has played a huge part in this.

    He is now captain of the side with an FA Cup and a Premier League trophy under his belt. He also signed a new six-year deal with the Citizens in July.

Mario Balotelli

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    Love him or loathe him, Mario Balotelli has improved untold amounts since he arrived at Manchester City for €22 million in 2010.

    Similar to Vincent Kompany, the Italian's progress is borne out of sticking to one position. For Internazionale, Jose Mourinho used the Lumezzane youth product in a variety of roles which stunted his growth.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the man standing in his way when it came to the central striker's role, so Balotelli often made do on the wing.

    Playing in a consistent striking role has allowed the Euro 2012 star to build up his strength, refine his instincts and perfect his finishing.

Aleksandar Kolarov

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    When Aleksandar Kolarov signed with Manchester City for £16 million, many felt the Citizens had overspent.

    His early performances did nothing to suggest otherwise, and the arrival of Gael Clichy in 2011 put the Serbian in a precarious position.

    He found himself missing out on the big games, as Roberto Mancini selected his French rival due to his recovery pace, but this only forced the former Lazio defender to work on his game.

    He's a far more complete player now. His defending has improved, he looks comfortable on the ball and his role in the 3-5-2 as the wing-back could not be more pivotal.

Joe Hart

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    Joe Hart's performance against Borussia Dortmund—a performance that limited a rampant German side to just one goal—was just a snippet of the goalkeeper's elite abilities.

    Mark Hughes sent him on loan to Birmingham City after securing Shay Given's services, but when Hart returned, Roberto Mancini was at the helm and the Italian had no hesitation in awarding him the first-choice role.

    He's accrued 24 England caps since that superb display in a 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur and is fast-becoming one of the best 'keepers in world football.

Adam Johnson

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    Although Adam Johnson has since departed for Martin O'Neill's Sunderland side, the former Middlesbrough winger came on leaps and bounds at Manchester City.

    Roberto Mancini signed him for £7m in January 2010 fresh out of the Championship, meaning the move carried a certifiable degree of risk from the very beginning.

    The Italian turned Johnson's game around, converting him from a traditional left-winger, in the mould of ex-team mate Stewart Downing, to a modern, inverted winger playing from the right-hand side.

Pablo Zabaleta

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    Pablo Zabaleta has always been a consistent, solid performer.

    Under Mark Hughes he was quietly effective, but under Roberto Mancini he's been a standout player.

    With David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure on the books, it won't be often that the shirt printer reaches for the "Z," but that shouldn't take away from the Argentine's versatility, skill and all-round brilliance.

Samir Nasri

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    Initially, Samir Nasri looked terrible in a Manchester City shirt. It took the Frenchman months to sync with David Silva and they stepped on each other's toes with frustrating frequency.

    Suddenly, however, it all clicked. Both playmakers found their own area of the pitch, linked up with deadly efficiency and the goals poured in.

    Nasri became a much more ruthless finisher than he was at Arsenal despite the onus not being on him to score.

Nigel de Jong

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    Nigel de Jong, signed by Mark Hughes in January 2009, was initially deployed solely as a ball-winner or midfield destroyer.

    He was not required to pass well or hold onto the ball and the Dutchman's short game suffered greatly under the now-Queens Park Rangers manager.

    The Netherlands international's passing success has steadily risen over the past several seasons. In the Mark Hughes era, his completion rate was 84.9 percent, but under Roberto Mancini he moved to 90, then 92.3 percent.

    He was never converted into a Hollywood style passer, but the Italian improved his efficiency in the short-game which enabled Manchester City to control possession more effectively.

    (statistics via WhoScored?.)

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