The 23-year-old might make his Man City debut next week
The City faithful would be hoping that the Portugal international helps bring their side’s defensive problems under control after they were once again laid bare by Leicester City on Sunday.
Manchester City’s £63m acquisition of Ruben Dias from Benfica has provided the Citizens with a powerful and aggressive ball-playing central defender.
The 23-year-old hasn’t allowed his relatively young age to stop him from achieving big things as he has already become a regular in the Portugal starting XI. His meteoric resurgence at Benfica also saw the centre-back linked with several top clubs across Europe before City eventually got his signature.
Diaz is joining Pep Guardiola’s side at a time when their season threatens to become a mirror-image of last campaign – when City’s own defensive follies combined with Liverpool’s stunning form turned the Premier League title race into a procession.
City fans would be hoping that the Portuguese centre-back, along with Aymeric Laporte, trims down the mistakes that led to their side conceding three penalties on Sunday. But who exactly is the 23-year-old and what is his playing style? Ligalive takes a look at his playing career to find out.
The 23-year-old has been at Benfica since 2008 since joining them as a youth prospect from Portuguese minnows Estrela da Amadora. He spent seven years in the club’s youth setup before being promoted to the Benfica B side at the start of 2015/16 season.
Dias didn’t take too long to make his mark at that stage and, after only two seasons at Benfica B, was promoted to the senior side. And it was in his first season with the Portuguese giants that the 6’2’’ centre-back was voted Primeira Liga’s best young player of the year.
While he isn’t as bullish off the ball as the former Real Madrid centre-back, Diaz is as strong in the tackle and as determined to win the ball back from his opponents as Pepe.
Guardiola’s decision to bring the Portuguese to the Etihad might also be influenced by his composure on the ball – as regular Benfica watchers can testify how seamlessly the defender can convert a defensive situation into an attacking one with his long diagonal passes to a winger.
The 23-year-old is good at fouling opposition players, though he isn’t that effective at getting away without a caution, as his six bookings from last season show.
Dias’s fouls against the opposition aren’t the sort of that come from barging into opposition players or sliding to take them away from the game. The Portuguese centre-back is, instead, a master of anticipating danger and stopping play by taking players out of the equation before they become a danger.
That strategy might seem familiar to those who watch Man City midfielder Fernandinho regularly as the Brazilian defensive midfielder too has the innate ability of sacrificing his disciplinary record for the greater good of his team. Diaz therefore can complement his much older teammate in this regard.
Since making his Primeira Liga debut in 2017/18 season, the 6’2’’ defender has rarely if ever been stretchered off during the game.
The only time Dias has played less than 30 top-flight games in the Portuguese top-flight was during his maiden season at the senior level. Even then it wasn’t his physical condition but his status down the pecking order at Benfica that limited the playing minutes for Dias.
He played at least 49 games in each of the two following seasons at Portugal, an indicator that Guardiola could afford to rely on his new signing to be in the mix of things throughout the season. City fans therefore have every right to expect Dias to become a success story at the Etihad.
Ligalive Daily – the day-to-day newsletter by Ligalivenet. Delivered by 6.00 a.m. to your inbox. Getting smarter in five minutes.
Dossiers for lover and hater. Triumphs, tragedies, embarrassments, victories of all Bundesliga clubs.