Nicolas Otamendi is showing the footballing world exactly why Manuel Pellegrini was so keen to bring him to the Etihad Stadium over the summer.
Following his first City goal and his second consecutive Premier League Man of the Match award in the victory over Norwich, the Argentine defender’s recent form is the talk of the town in many of the morning’s headlines – and amongst the City supporters.
In his last two games, he has earned ratings of 8.91 and 7.94 on WhoScored.com, winning a total of eight aerial duels, making 161 touches, creating two shots on target (one goal) and against Norwich, completing a passing accuracy of 91.4%.
Pellegrini was delighted to complete the capture of the Valencia man in August, declaring: “As a footballer, Nicolas has all of the qualities to be a success in the Premier League – he’s strong, he’s excellent in the tackle and he’s very good technically.”
After making the switch from Spain to Manchester, it was suggested the 27-year-old took time to settle into the English game but in recent weeks, he’s certainly proving the Chilean’s faith in him, whilst delighting the Blue faithful and impressing the experts with a series of solid defensive displays.
@Notamendi30 well done Nicolas you were great yesterday well deserved MOTM— katy fitzpatrick (@kathy121255) November 1, 2015
He wrote: “He and Kompany look cool and commanding at the back and if Otamendi can keep scoring and match the goal threat his partner has often provided down the years, then the pair will have another reason to be consider Manuel Pellegrini’s first choice centre-half pairing.”
In ESPN’s player ratings, the centre-back received a mark of eight out of ten, as David Mooney explained: “The Argentine is really settling in well and was brilliant in defending on the front foot.
“He broke from the lines to win the ball a number of times and he netted a cracking header to open the scoring.”
Rob Pollard of the Bleacher Report penned a full article on the defender’s performances, entitled: “Otamendi becoming a key player for Manchester City”.
The piece reads: “Otamendi, an aggressive defender, is really beginning to show his quality. He is comfortable in possession—a prerequisite in Manuel Pellegrini’s plans—and possesses enough physical strength to dominate opposition strikers.
“Like Kompany, Otamendi looks to play on the front foot and make challenges early, rather than drop deep and allow forwards to turn.
“It’s a risky style, but when it works, it’s impressive. Against United and Norwich, he’s shown that proactive defending, at its best, is incredibly effective.”
Though there had been glimpses prior, Otamendi’s ability became clear for all to see in the 170th Manchester derby, in which he collected his first City Man of the Match award, having helped his side to a clean sheet at Old Trafford.
Nicolás Otamendi's game by numbers: 10 clearances 3 interceptions 3 tackles won 2 aerial duels won Solid game. pic.twitter.com/aBAEXWaWdu— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 25, 2015
Sharing his thoughts on the game with mcfc.co.uk, he said he was pleased with the display and result.
On Saturday, Otamendi became the fourth City defender to score in the Premier League this season – no other team has netted more from that position. Speaking in his post-match press conference, Pellegrini described the thumping header which opened the scoring as ‘beautiful’.
Reflecting on his own performance with mcfc.co.uk, Otamendi added: “I’m really, really happy that we won this game and that we played well and obviously I’m really pleased I scored my first goal for City.
“This was a tough game but I think we were good value for the three points and it would have been tough to have come away with only a draw so we are pleased.”
The Frenchman stated: "He is top quality. That's what we need from the back. We needed to be tight on the marking and that's what he did very well.
"He's very committed. He's been here for a short period but he's doing very well.”
“But respect to him because it's not an easy league to come into.
"He had a tussle with Wayne Rooney all afternoon and Anthony Martial out on the wing. It was a big occasion for him but he slipped in alongside Vincent Kompany and played really well - we're blessed to have so many good centre halves at this club and Nico is definitely one of them."
More of the same please, Nico!