Eliaquim Mangala Is a Risk, Breaks from Manuel Pellegrini's Transfer Policy

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Eliaquim Mangala Is a Risk, Breaks from Manuel Pellegrini's Transfer Policy
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Eliaquim Mangala is said to be closing in on his long-awaited move to Manchester City, with the player being shown on film giving a message to fans during a pre-season social media exercise.

The Daily Mail's Chris Wheeler reports the Frenchman has already had a medical with the club and is awaiting the finalisation of his transfer, with David Mooney of ESPN FC suggesting the fact he is subject to third-party ownership is complicating the deal immensely.

No player entering the Premier League can be anything but 100 percent owned by the purchasing club, and the Liga Sagres—Portugal's top tier—is rife with cases such as these.

The ownership conundrum is thought to have been an issue late in January as City bid for his services at the 11th hour, but they now appear destined to secure the signature of the FC Porto man with time on their side.

Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

Exciting as the signing of the 23-year-old may be, and as highly as his talents are touted across Europe, the acquisition comes with clear and obvious risk—a step away from Manuel Pellegrini's usual transfer policy.

The Chilean has excelled at recruiting established talent to fill needs at the club since his appointment 12 months ago, with the likes of Jesus Navas, Fernando Reges, Bacary Sagna and Fernandinho all representing excellent buys.

That he spends a chunk of cash on each one—or in Sagna's case, on wages—is forgivable due to their obvious and established quality, and it's helped Pellegrini navigate his time at the Etihad Stadium thus far without a single "flop" to his name.

Mangala will be the first time he really sticks his neck on the line, as while the FCP man is clearly a strong asset-to-be, it's easy to forget he has just a few professional seasons of any worth to his name.

Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press

Much how William Carvalho of Sporting is a gamble at £25 million-plus no matter the club, Mangala should be considered the same. He has UEFA Champions League experience, a commanding attitude and travelled to the FIFA World Cup as France's fourth-choice central defender, but he's still a raw prospect.

The way he plays is fantastic: aggressive in the air and astonishingly strong, yet also happy to spark attacks from the back. He's not as polished as ball-players like Vincent Kompany—his partner-in-waiting—but remains eager to take it under pressure.

In Portugal he's earned the moniker "The Iron Man" for a reason, but at the prices mentioned—a report by Samuel Stevens in The Independent suggests a whopping £32 million—it's a big show of faith from Pellegrini.

It's not his typical modus operandi by any stretch, so he must really like what he sees. The Chilean is as good a talent spotter as any out there, so this shouldn't be a big concern for City fans, but this is the first transfer Pellegrini is conducting with any sort of risk attached to it at all.

The potential of a Mangala-Kompany (stopper-sweeper) pairing is exciting and intriguing, but the Frenchman needs time.

His ceiling is astonishing, but there's a reason he was fourth-choice for France this summer—behind Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho and Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny.

 

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