Manchester City: Has the Team Evolved from Nigel De Jong?

Ieuan BeynonCorrespondent IIINovember 23, 2011

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 02:  Nigel de Jong of Manchester City looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Villarreal CF and Manchester City FC at El Madrigal on November 2, 2011 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Cast your mind back a year and everybody was kicking up a fuss because Nigel De Jong had broken the leg of Hatem Ben Arfa.

That De Jong had bite; he was ferocious in the tackle, he would run for 90 minutes and be one of the most consistent performers on the star-studded Manchester City team.

Fast forward a year and De Jong is a shell of his former self.

Last night against Napoli was like watching a completely different player.

There was no hunger, no determination. Well, there was nothing.

Because that is exactly what he did, nothing.

He looks like a shadow of what he once was.

At the end of last season, De Jong was one of the best defensive midfielders in world football; now I wouldn't blink twice if City sold him.

Football is business, and if he doesn't perform then he will be shipped out and someone will replace him, as simple as that.

He maybe a firm favourite with the City faithful, but if he continues to serve up lacklustre displays, he will be banished to the history books.

I have a theory on why De Jong looks so out of his depth at the moment.

Its simple really, he is.

Manchester City this season have completely changed the way they play.

They now have the firepower, skill and depth to become the best side in the Premiership and beyond.

The slick passing of David Silva and Samir Nasri, along with the goals of Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, make this side as formidable an attacking presence as the Premier League has ever seen.

All this football and passing is way above De Jong.

His technical ability is nowhere near as good as that of his teammates, and it shows.

When you replace either Yaya Toure or Gareth Barry with De Jong, the side instantly doesn't look as balanced.

Just one more thing; if I had a choice, I would rather see the leg crunching De Jong back than sell him any day.