It’s fair to say Manchester City have lacked a physical presence in attack for some time. Edin Dzeko was initially brought in to offer City that strong, aggressive edge they so badly needed but, in truth, he hasn’t done it. Dzeko has scored some important goals for the club, but he is inconsistent, often drifting out of games for long periods before being substituted. Useful though he is, he isn’t a player you can rely on to cause opposition defences problems for 90 minutes.
Step forward Alvaro Negredo, or The Beast of Vallecas, as he became known in his homeland. Watching the way he bullied Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic last Sunday in the derby victory, it was clear that Negredo brings 90 minutes of persistence and physicality. Two of the finest defenders in the history of British football were struggling to cope.
In a recent interview with Adam Crafton of the Daily Mail, Negredo said he loved his reputation as a striker who enjoys a battle:
It’s [The Beast] a nickname I like. It was given to me while I was playing in Spain so I hope they can call me that over here as well. Hopefully the way I played against United will convince them to do it. I will be happy if they do.
I always enjoy a physical battle. (Nemanja) Vidic is a very strong player, very aggressive but I enjoyed that sort of contact with an opponent. As long as opponents play fair it’s not a problem to me because I’m always ready for the challenge.
That’s not to suggest he is all about the physical side of the game, and to paint him as such would be to do him a disservice—Negredo also has some lovely touches and technique. His assist for Jesus Navas’ goal in the 5-0 win over Wigan was one such example.
He gave the Wigan defence “the eyes,” before slotting a beautifully weighted through ball into his teammate’s path with the outside of his boot. It was a moment of class and brilliance and gave another demonstration of his growing influence on this City side.
He’s scored 17 goals in his last 20 club games, stretching back to the end of his spell at Sevilla. He’s a player well in form and, at the moment, is the first choice to partner Sergio Aguero when the Argentinian is fit.
It’s clear that Negredo’s game suits the Premier League and that he has adapted to life at City very quickly, indeed. Dzeko certainly has a fight on his hands if he wants to force his way back into City’s starting XI for the big games.
Something tells me The Beast of Vallecas isn’t going to give up his place easily. City have, for too long, been without a striker of his nature and the club’s fans, who are built on ethics of hard work, have taken to him already. Negredo could cement his place as City's main No. 9 in the coming weeks.
I’ll leave you with the thoughts of a City fan on Twitter who summed up Negredo’s appearance and playing style rather nicely:
Negredo looks like the type of man that would score a hat-trick then go and re-plaster somebody's house on his way home. #topbloke
— Dave Birty (@BirtyDave) September 24, 2013
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.