Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson Moraes has undoubtedly been one of Pep Guardiola’s most important signings for Manchester City.
The reigning Premier League champions have received widespread praise for revolutionising English football in the last two seasons and the 25-year-old Brazil international has been central to the execution of Guardiola’s plan on the pitch.
City build play from the back and rely on Ederson’s ability on the ball to maintain defensive stability and build attacks. His calmness on the ball, confidence with his passing and ability to wait for the right option, helps the team beat the press, which takes opposition players out of the game and starts swift attacks. He can also swap the short passing for a long drive too, thereby launching the Blues forward and unleashing a flurry of attacks on the opponent.
He is accurate as well, with 82.7 percent of his passes finding their target. That puts him ahead of his compatriot Alisson Becker at Liverpool who averages 79.4 percent and is well ahead of Manchester United‘s David De Gea at 54.8 percent. Having kept seven clean sheets in 12 league games already this season, he is in the running to claim his first Golden Gloves in England.
A good example of how Ederson’s passing has become a key weapon for City occurred in the recent Manchester derby.
After receiving a back pass (which has become all the more common as a result of the confidence his teammates have in him), Jesse Lingard closed him down quickly. The United midfielder was just a few yards away on his left-hand side, while Marcus Rashford was simultaneously hunting him down on the right, cutting off the easiest passing angle to John Stones. It seemed the goalkeeper had nowhere to go. In this position most other goalkeepers will start panicking which could lead to a costly mistake.
He demonstrated what has made him one of the very best in the world in his position by simply and calmly swinging his left foot like a pitching wedge, arcing a pass over Rashford and straight to Kyle Walker. City were now on the attack with three United players out of the game. The fact that he could even go for the option of putting the ball out of play but chose to pick out his teammate and did it expertly shows his quality.
He has also not conceded a league goal for Man City in open play since the beginning of September. Although, he has conceded two penalties in his last two league matches. That is definitely an area he will need to work on. But that does not in any way negate from his role in the team.
He has so far played an important role in City’s unbeaten start to the campaign. Helping keep a clean sheet against Liverpool when the two sides met in early October at Anfield was a huge improvement from last term when he conceded seven goals in just two games at the home of the Reds.
Guardiola’s side has also shown an overall improvement from last season, letting in just five goals in 12 league games while simultaneously scoring the most in the division, 36. After holding Liverpool to a draw at Anfield and beating United at the Etihad Stadium, City have picked up four points from the only two matches they lost last term. That leaves the Sky Blues in a better position than they were last term and as the overwhelming favourites to retain their title come May.
However, credit must first go to Guardiola. The Catalan manager had already demonstrated his transformational capability elsewhere before moving to the Premier League. But many were sceptical the serial winner could replicate his heroics in England. When he chose to replace Joe Hart, some thought he was going too far. Claudio Bravo was brought in from Barcelona to fill the role. After the Chilean also failed to live up to expectations, Ederson was brought in from Benfica.
That has made all the difference.
Strangely though, Ederson is relegated to second choice for Brazil and has made just two appearances for the national team as Liverpool’s Alisson holds sway. The £67 million summer signing has already made one high profile gaffe with his feet for the Reds this season in the club’s 2-1 win against Leicester. Brazil are fortunate to have two of the world’s best goalkeepers to choose from, but could the choice of the Liverpool man as number one be the wrong one?
Ederson has demonstrated with City that he is miles ahead of both his compatriot and even Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga. But whether Alisson’s and Kepa’s contributions help the Merseysiders or the Londoners beat the Cityzens to the title is yet to be seen. Certainly, if that happens, the record signings for the Reds and the Blues respectively would have been justified. Until then, the City number one remains the reference point for the rest.