Manuel Akanji became an unsung hero last season for City. Signed for a modest £15 million as reported by the Sun from Borussia Dortmund, by season end Akanji’s value to City would be priceless.
The prevailing view was that Akanji was signed primarily as defensive cover. As they always seem to do the champions recruiting department saw something more in the Swiss defender.
Akanji made 48 appearances in all competitions during his debut season at City. He played in a variety of positions across defence showing versatility not previously well known in his game.
That versatility became crucial for City as they clinched the treble. After Nathan Ake’s injury away to Bayern Munich, Akanji slotted in on the left of defense.
He was superb in his unfamiliar role in the Champions League semi-final tie against Real Madrid.
As the crunch part of the season came, Akanji became one of the first picked at the back by Pep Guardiola.
For the Champions League final against Inter Milan, Akanji lined up on the right-hand side of the defense. The move by Guardiola highlighted the invaluable versatility of Akanji’s game. The unfortunate Kyle Walker missed out on the starting line up.
It would prove an inspired decision from Guardiola. Akanji provided the impetus for City’s winner from Rodri. The Swiss defender drove at a packed Inter Milan defense and played in Bernardo who provided the cross that fell to Rodri. The rest is history.
✍️ Four years since Rodri signed for Man City…
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) July 4, 2023
Harry Pratt of Daily Star Sport reports that Manuel Akanji is due to be offered a new deal from Manchester City. It would be a fitting reward for City’s unsung hero.