Manuel Akanji I heard the transfer rumors about the same all summer. The 27-year-old was entering his final year of contract in Borussia Dortmund Multiple offers appeared. Leicester City It is reported that one of the clubs interested in the center back, who was not sure of agreeing to move away from Bundesliga until Manchester get involved.
“The transfer window was long. I had a lot of conversations with my agent and there were some offers but I didn’t feel anything right until the moment City came to me and then it was clear that I wanted to do it,” Akanji said. the athlete. “I was thinking I had an extra year in Dortmund so if nothing else had come up I would probably have stayed.”
“The move to City started the weekend before the transfer deadline. In a couple of days, it all passed – that’s why none of the media knew, because it happened all of a sudden. I’m glad it happened and I’m here now with this team.”
Welcome Akanji 💙 pic.twitter.com/tAYrpnyPVt
– Manchester City (@ManCity) September 1, 2022
Kanji speaking two days after his first appearance. He was 15 minutes late on his way home from the training ground. “Sorry for the delay! I was stuck in traffic,” he apologizes. He resides in the city center, in the City Suites Apartments – the same building his colleague was in Ilkay Gundogan And manager Pep Guardiola lives – as a temporary home. He has been alone in Manchester, spending his spare time watching the US Open and the start of NFL season while he waits for his family to arrive. They arrive over the weekend, his wife and children – a second born just days after signing his contract in City – and Akanji is looking for a permanent place to stay.
Switzerland’s first week in England was hectic, but he couldn’t hide his smile at the challenge that lay ahead. Being the fifth center back in the first team to join the squad is not a concern.
“I knew the situation at Man City. I’ve watched a lot of their games over the past few years and I knew they already had world-class players all over the team. I’m ready for the challenge. It might not be easy and I can’t expect to play every game, but We have a lot of games coming up, we have injuries, suspensions or whatever.
“The club told me we don’t have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – we are all players in that position and people who train better and play better will play. Guardiola will make changes because if the same team plays in every game there will be problems – your body He can’t do that.”
Akanji first appeared in Champions League against Seville. He trained for less than a week under Guardiola, but his performances at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan earned some praise from his manager: “He showed what a good defender in the heart of Manchester City just bought.”
PEP 💬 [On Akanji] He trained with us for a day and a half, but he showed his experience in Dortmund and what a good defender in the heart of Manchester City gave us. He has a similar quality as Aymeric – he can break lines with a pass. It reads spaces really well. pic.twitter.com/IcRCWWxGjS
– Manchester City (@ManCity) September 6, 2022
“I had less (training) time than the others, but I can handle that,” Akanji explains. “I’m not at the level they are but I try to learn every day and the coaches tell me if I can improve things. I’m here to learn and some things are new to me with the system, but I’ve never had problems with (that)”, he adds.
“Before the match I was a little nervous but I felt comfortable on the pitch, I just felt normal. I did what I always do and the guys around me gave me an option to always play.”
Akanji used to be described as a center back who plays the ball. Dortmund paid £20 million ($23.2 million) in 2018 when he was expected to be one of Europe’s most promising defenders. However, the situation under Guardiola’s leadership is different.
“My central defenders are the first players they get from the goalkeeper and even in City, I have to get used to how good they are. Ederson With his feet because I’m not used to building the goalkeeper with the team either.
“I see a lot of details in training that I never learned before – how you stand with the ball, how you take a shot and things like that.”
The links between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund have been consistent in recent years. After the arrival of Akanji, there were four players on the team with a period at the German club in their career – Gündogan, Sergio Gomez And the Erling Haaland. In 2017, City sold the 17-year-old Jadon Sancho Dortmund as well. Sancho and Haaland were Akanji’s closest friends in Germany, and they’ve also been significant in recent weeks.
“I’m in contact with Jadon a lot. With Erling, I spoke clearly before coming here and we also kept in touch when he left the club.
“They tell me here that I will learn a lot in training because the intensity is so high that it makes it more difficult. It’s not like we do different exercises from Dortmund but the quality and intensity make it much higher. It’s hard and it shows that you can get used to Premier League. I think it’s much faster than in Germany.”
Haaland was a key figure in Akanji’s early days at the club, although all the players are “comfortable” and “easy to talk to”. “I start to get more involved in conversations, not just the usual form,” the Swiss say, “Hey, how are you?” or “Congratulations on your new baby.” The conversations are getting funnier and deeper. This is a sign that you are getting used to the team more.”
He was impressed by the high standards, too. “In my first session I trained with players who didn’t play against them Nottingham Forest And there were some young players from the academy and the second team who are really good and achieving a lot of quality. Julian Alvarez He’s really good and still young – he needs to adapt a little bit also to the football we play here but you can also see the good things in him. Cole Palmervery.”
Akanji also captures details about each of his new teammates, those things that you can’t recognize from afar.
“When I watched any of the City matches, I didn’t particularly realize how Robin Dias lead from behind. He communicates a lot with everyone. I feel like these are things you don’t see on TV, also because you can’t hear them. He (Dias) talks a lot and made it easier for me in my first match.”
Before he gets used to life in Manchester, the Champions League will allow Akanji to reunite his former teammates for the past four seasons. City will host Dortmund in the second round of matches in the group stage, a challenge the Swiss cannot afford to face.
“It wouldn’t be so strange to me,” he says. “I am looking forward to the match. I try to do everything to win. I didn’t come here to lose matches, so hopefully we can get the three points on Wednesday.”
He is aware of speculation about his movement, and possibly his ambition. There may be some skeptics about Akanji’s decision to join a club of four elite centre-backs, and playing time may be limited. Even before he gets asked about it, learn about the critics and how they’ll motivate him to make a point.
“I want to show that I didn’t come here to be just a random player. I want to be in this team and play as much as I can. Some people may still have doubts about this and I need to prove to them that I can do it, and that’s why I’m here.”
“Some people might think I came here as another defender to play a while. I don’t know what everyone thinks because I don’t read all the newspapers but there is always some skepticism about everyone. Even Erling, when he came, there were questions about whether he could do here. The same as he did in the Bundesliga! Of course, he is proving them wrong.”
Few people in this team can know Haaland as much as Akanji does after more than two years in Dortmund. Last week, sporting director Sebastian Kehl said the Haaland transfer story had become a “burden” in his final months at the club, “both in the dressing room and at the club”. However, Akanji is only positive about the Norwegian.
“He (Haaland) speaks up if he thinks it’s time to do it. I love players who work this way,” he stated.
“Obviously it depends on how you say things, but it helps if you can have a conversation about anything that happened. It’s not just about football issues because I think everyday life works like that too. I feel it’s important that you tell your teammates how you feel.”
Being a voice character on the team is something Akanji aspires to as well.
“I could be like that too. Maybe not now, because I’m still getting used to the team! But yeah, that’s what I am now.”
“If one of my team-mates makes a mistake on the field I will not kill him, because most of the time they will feel bad enough already. I might try to give him a solution, or tell him how I can try to help him,” concludes the player who, days before playing against his past in Dortmund, envisions his future Already in the elite of European football – where he aspires to be.
(Top image: David S Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)