Ruben Dias passnotes: Manchester City are getting the leader they have missed since Vincent Kompany departed… he’s humble off the pitch and even hits the right notes with his pop star girlfriend
- Ruben Dias will become the most expensive player in Manchester City’s history
- The £64m fee will eclipse the £62.8m spent on midfielder Rodri last summer
- Nicholas Otamendi is going in the opposite direction as part of this agreement
- Jose Mourinho had looked at him for Manchester United and then Tottenham
- Off the pitch he’s relaxed and spends his time with pop star girlfriend April Ivy
Pep Guardiola has finally added another centre back and in the process the club broke their transfer record in spending £64million on Benfica’s Ruben Dias.
The Portugal international was just waiting on Nicholas Otamendi to complete his switch in the other direction and with that all sorted, Dias can kick on at the Etihad Stadium as the focal point of a defence still licking its wounds following the mauling by Leicester.
Dias is an aerial presence, is vocal, a leader for those around him and alongside Aymeric Laporte will form the first-choice pairing from here for City.
Sportsmail takes a closer look at what exactly the 23-year-old will offer City…
Ruben Dias has become the most expensive player in Manchester City history this summer
The no-nonsense Portuguese defender put pen to paper on a six-year contract at the Etihad
Dias is in line to make his debut for the Premier League giants over the coming week
At 23, Dias is still in the infancy of what he will hope is a long and successful career.
Leadership is one of the main buzzwords that comes with scouting reports of Dias and that will prove invaluable for a City backline seemingly void of accountability with Laporte sidelined.
Captaining Portugal’s youth teams and then taking the armband for Benfica’s first team all by the age of 23 speaks to the respect he has earned in the various dressing rooms and the example he sets on and off the pitch.
Born in Amadora in the north-west region of Lisbon, Dias was deployed as a striker in his local team before he was picked up by Benfica’s academy at the age of 11 and was pushed down the pitch and into a centre back role.
His older brother Ivan plays in the third division of Portugal but for the Dias family it is Ruben who has the potential to be the best in the world in his position.
Dias changed from a striker in his local team to a centre back when Benfica got him aged 11
What type of player are Manchester City getting?
The first thing to note here is that Dias is not going to revolutionise City on his own – there is only so much one man – outside of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – can do.
But he is a marked upgrade on Eric Garcia, Nathan Ake, John Stones and the departed Otamendi and so there is an instant spike in quality. As a right centre back, he will complement Laporte, who will feature on the left side.
Victor Lindelof was sold to Manchester United in 2017 and the call came that it was time for Dias to step up to fill the void; he stepped up with aplomb, unfazed by the expectations on him.
A season of consistency, in Europe and in the league, did not go unnoticed and he was awarded Young Player of the Year in the Primeira League. Scouts were circling.
The 23-year-old is a vocal leader and will bring accountability to Man City’s ailing defence
The key at Manchester City is having the required quality as well as the tactical brain to excel under Guardiola.
Many do not and they are moved on but in Dias, the Catalan boss is picking up one of the smartest young defenders in Europe.
City’s high-line is always a gamble and so with an emphasis on greater communication and impeccable organisation, Dias can – and will – thrive.
Pace could well be an issue against the league’s best such as Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah but recovery speed of the full backs – particularly Kyle Walker – can fill that void when necessary.
His comfort on the ball is what will have enticed Guardiola along with his vocal presence.
In the Portuguese league last year, Dias ranked first in the entire division for passes into the final third, forward passes and passes completed. He ranked second for passes to the right wing with 432.
A threat from set-pieces is another dimension of game that makes him attractive in England
An aerial presence from set-pieces was something that added to Kompany’s arsenal and City will need Dias to chip in with goals throughout the season if their attackers are thwarted in open play.
It was well documented that there was interest in Jose Gimenez and Kalidou Koulibaly but in Dias the club are getting a young player still yet to reach his ceiling.
It is a lot of money but the disappointment at losing one of their own in Lisbon speaks volumes to the talent that has slipped from their grasp.
Could he have moved to England before?
Jose Mourinho has looked at acquiring Dias on two occasions – at Manchester United and Tottenham.
It was the fees involved that made a deal for the 23-year-old difficult and now it is Mourinho’s nemesis, Guardiola, that will be able to call the player his own.
City have the added ability to offer the chance to compete for the Premier League title now and are also competing in the Champions League while Tottenham navigate Europa League qualifying.
Dias’ qualities seem a natural fit for the English game and Mourinho will hope his inability to land his fellow Portuguese doesn’t come back to bite him too badly.
Jose Mourinho has retained an interest in Dias at both Manchester United and Tottenham
What have people said about him?
Dias’ mild-manner off the pitch has seen only good things aired about him from his peers.
Jose Fonte, who has played alongside Dias for Portugal, said on talkSPORT: ‘He’s humble.
‘He’s very, very skilful with the ball at his feet. He has a good pass between the lines. He reads the game well, he attacks the ball well in the air. He’s strong in the duels.
‘They’re getting a very good player. I have no doubt he’s ready; he’s been playing at the highest level for the last two, three years.’
For former Swansea City manager Carlos Carvalhal, Dias, with all the factors assessed from age, value and raw ability, is one of the best defenders around at this moment that City could have gone for.
He told BBC Radio Manchester: ‘Comparing the quality, age of the boy, I think he’s one of the best centre backs at the moment!’
Jose Fonte, who played with Dias (pictured) for Portugal, describes the youngster as ‘humble’
Very impressive given his age.
After that impressive first season whereby he filled the void left by Lindelof, he became the youngest member of Fernando Santos’ Portugal squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
It was no mean feat. Santos had a squad littered with members of the 2016 European Championship team and Dias would have been within his rights to have felt nervous stepping into that dressing room.
But his captaincy in youth teams – he was captain of the Under 20 side at the 2017 World Cup – had given him a grounding in maturing quickly and was all part of the process in preparing him to join Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.
He became the youngest member of the 2018 World Cup squad and has been a hit ever since
Dias has 19 caps to date for the national team and was impressive in the side that beat Holland to win the UEFA Nations League in Portugal last year.
On a night where he was being scrutinised in comparison to Virgil van Dijk, Dias thrived and emerged with the silverware in his hands.
City are acquiring an accomplished international who, if he steers clear of injury, can be a focal point of a defence for club and country for a decade.
‘He likes to communicate, that’s one thing I like about him. He talks a lot,’ Fonte added. ‘He gives instructions, he commands from the back and that’s very important for a defender. So he’s already a leader.’
Dias (back row, middle) was part of the squad who lifted the UEFA Nations League title last year
What’s he like off the pitch?
He appears incredibly laid back and enjoys spending time supporting – and assisting – his pop star girlfriend April Ivy.
Real name Mariana Goncalves, Dias’ other half has been a No 1 chart topper back in Portugal and could see her boyfriend’s move bring her music to a wider audience in England.
Dias’ talents extend away from the pitch too as one video of the couple on his Instagram showed him playing guitar while she sang an acoustic version of her hit song ‘Far From Home’.
Admittedly Dias is playing no more than three chords but he admitted he had only been learning the guitar for three days. On three days practice he’s pretty good.
He is laid back off the pitch, always smiling and his talkative nature will endear him to fans
It was Goncalves who confirmed on her Instagram story that the pair were hand in hand travelling to the UK to finalise his deal.
She has actually been in London for a longer period to progress her music career but they will now both be in England with the final details all sorted for his City move.
They are a glamorous couple who enjoy visiting various night spots across the city and with a number of high-end restaurants and bars to explore in Manchester – once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted – they will not be short of new Instagram opportunities.
Dias is reportedly very social and with fellow Portuguese internationals already at the club in Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo, he will likely fit right in with his new team-mates.
April Ivy (left), real name Mariana Goncalves, even has Dias working on his guitar skills at home
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