Pep Guardiola has hailed ‘undroppable’ Ruben Dias and says the defender’s impact at Manchester City is comparable to Virgil van Dijk’s at Liverpool.
Dias arrived in a £62m club-record deal from Benfica during the summer and has quickly established himself as an irreplaceable figure in Guardiola’s side, transforming a weakness at centre-back into one of the club’s greatest strengths.
After struggling defensively last season City now boast the Premier League’s best defence, including keeping seven clean sheets in their past eight fixtures as part of a winning run that has moved the club top of the division.
City have incredibly conceded just twice in the 12 league fixtures since a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham in November, with Dias’ impact echoing the role Van Dijk had in Liverpool’s rise to prominence after completing a world-record move to Merseyside in 2018.
Liverpool had struggled defensively until the signing of the Dutchman from Southampton, who has since helped the club to Champions League and Premier League success in addition to being named as the PFA Player of the Year in 2018/19.
Guardiola has discussed Dias’ importance to his side and believes the comparisons to Van Dijk are fair given the Portugal international’s prominent role in the club’s success this season.
“Yes, absolutely,” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference. “So far, how he’s settled immediately, in terms of mentality and he’s a guy who lives 24 hours for his profession.
“Every step he does, at home, on or off the pitch, eating, sleeping, recovering time, preparation time, everything is to be perfect during this 95-minute football game. That’s why.”
Guardiola hailed the impact Dias has had on his Manchester City teammates with the 23-year-old emerging as a leader at the back, forming a brilliant partnership with John Stones who has reinvigorated his career at the Etihad this season.
“He’s not just a player who plays good, he’s a player who makes the other guys play good too,” Guardiola added.
“It’s 90 minutes talking, 90 minutes communicating, 90 minutes saying what they have to do in every single action. When that happens, it’s difficult for me and he’s undroppable.
“It’s quite similar like Eric [Garcia], Eric has this mentality to play 90 minutes talk, lead the other ones.
“Hopefully the other central defenders – John [Stones], Aymeric [Laporte], Nathan [Ake] – can learn and not just play for themselves and what they have to do, see what happens close to them. That’s why it’s a football game as a team, not just individuals.”