Dias wants to defend all the time – Onuoha hails Man City's award winner

By Sports Desk May 22, 2021

Ruben Dias' thirst for defensive dirty work and natural leadership qualities are among the reasons for his outstanding debut season in the Premier League, former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha told Stats Perform.

Dias was named FWA Footballer of the Year on Thursday after inspiring City to their third title in four years under Pep Guardiola, whose team also won their fourth consecutive EFL Cup.

The 24-year-old Portugal international is the first defender to the win the prize since Steve Nicol in 1989 and the third man to lead the voting on his first season in English football after Jurgen Klinsmann (1994-95) and Gianfranco Zola (1996-97).

Onuoha believes Dias has a natural aptitude for the qualities most celebrated in Premier League defenders, something that could yet bring elusive European success to City in next weekend's Champions League final against Chelsea.

"We're in a country where a fan will clap you just as much for making a tackle as they will for scoring and a goal. That's not the norm around the world," he said.

"All those things that sort of made the Premier League what it what it is, I think he thrived within them. He seemed to take up a leadership-type role, he's somebody who wants to defend all the time, somebody who wants to try and win all the duels possible.

"When somebody's trying to wind up to have a shot, he wants to throw his body in there. He fits perfectly what's required from an elite centre-back in the Premier League."

Dias' desire to hurl himself in front of goal-bound shots was a hallmark of City's Champions League semi-final triumph over Paris Saint-Germain, while he and centre-back partner John Stones have regularly been seen celebrating their defensive interventions as if they were goals.

Unsurprisingly, Dias has made more blocks than any other City player in the Premier League this season (22) and also leads the way in terms of clearances (88).

A passing accuracy of 93.16 per cent is the best among any player to have amassed 2,500 or more minutes – not necessarily unexpected for a central defender in a Guardiola team, but Dias' 209 passes into the final third overall and 16.3 progressive carries per 90 minutes show he is adept at getting City on the front foot.

Nevertheless, it is his infectious defending that catches the eye.

"He wants to go and duel with his attacker, he wants to make it as hard as possible for him all the time," Onuoha said.

"Ruben Dias has made a point of doing everything he can to stop the ball going in his goal.

"Even though you can play diagonal balls, he can play through balls do all that stuff, his success is based on a foundation of making it as hard as possible for the opposition.

"That's been so contagious throughout the City backline. When you have somebody who is on it all the time, you can't help but match that."

A 5-2 defeat at home to Leicester City last September immediately before his arrival suggests a very different campaign might have unfolded without City sanctioning their club-record £62million signing of Dias from Benfica.

"I think they would still have found a way to be more competitive than they were at the start of the season, but they were in mid-table. They weren't part of the title conversation until we got towards the end of 2020," Onuoha added.

"In that moment, if you don't have a strong defence, or strong leaders who were capable of like trying to catch up then they would have struggled and would have had a disappointing season.

"City found ultimate consistency and it was based around a sort of toughness – we have to win this.

"It wasn't because they were beating teams 10-0. They could there could beat a team 4-0 or could grind out a 1-0. Ultimately, that type of stuff falls back on mentality. When you bring in a mentality like Ruben Dias, then it fits perfectly."

Related items

  • Eriksen vows he 'won't give up' as he looks to 'understand' what caused cardiac arrest Eriksen vows he 'won't give up' as he looks to 'understand' what caused cardiac arrest

    Christian Eriksen has thanked those who assisted him after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch against Finland on Saturday and now wants to "understand what happened".

    Inter midfielder Eriksen collapsed in the first half of the Euro 2020 match in Copenhagen with no other player around him.

    He was given CPR by medics and the fixture was originally suspended, but once Eriksen was confirmed to be "awake" the game resumed just under two hours later, Finland going on to win 1-0.

    The Danish Football Union (DBU) provided an update on Sunday, confirming that he had suffered a cardiac arrest but his condition was stable pending further examinations.

    Team doctor Morten Boesen detailed how he could initially feel a pulse when he arrived at Eriksen's side, but that "suddenly changed" and meant CPR was necessary.

    The medical team and Denmark captain Simon Kjaer were widely praised for their respective roles, with the centre-back quickly placing Eriksen in the recovery position.

    And, speaking through his agent to Gazzetta dello Sport, Eriksen relayed a brief message of thanks as he now sets about learning why it happened.

    He said: "Thank you, I won't give up. I feel better now, but I want to understand what happened. I want to say thank you all for what you did for me."

    Denmark are next due to be in action on Thursday against Belgium.

  • Rumour Has It: Barca want De Ligt and Leicester eye Coutinho as Man Utd hold further Sancho talks Rumour Has It: Barca want De Ligt and Leicester eye Coutinho as Man Utd hold further Sancho talks

    Could Matthijs de Ligt leave Juventus?

    De Ligt joined Juve from Ajax in 2019 but his future has been a topic of discussion.

    Barcelona were strongly linked with him before he left the Eredivisie and are reportedly still keen admirers.



    Barcelona are keen on signing Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, according to Le10 Sport.

    LaLiga giants Barca have already brought in Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia, while they are also said to be interested in Memphis Depay of Lyon and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

    But it is claimed they are particularly eager to further bolster their defence in addition to Garcia's arrival, though they could face competition for De Ligt – Manchester United have long been linked with the Netherlands international.



    - Mundo Deportivo reports Leicester City are considering a move for Barca outcast Philippe Coutinho. It would be a reunion for Brendan Rodgers and Coutinho after working together at Liverpool.

    Atletico Madrid are eyeing Hakan Calhanoglu as an alternative to Udinese star Rodrigo de Paul. LaLiga champions Atletico want De Paul, who has also been linked with JuveInter and Leeds United. Should they miss out on the Argentina international, Calhanoglu is an option – the Milan star's contract expires at the end of June.

    United have held further talks with Borussia Dortmund in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho, says Fabrizio Romano. Dortmund reportedly want £81million (€95m), though United are currently unwilling to pay more than £60m (€70m). Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked previously.

    - Romano also reports Gianluigi Donnarumma's contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2026 has been agreed. The Italy international goalkeeper is set to join PSG on a free transfer following the end of his Milan deal.

    - According to Corriere dello Sport, Milan are in talks to sign Real Madrid pair Brahim Diaz and Alvaro Odriozola on loan. The Rossoneri have also been linked with Luka Jovic and are seemingly poised to secure the permanent signing of Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea as well.

  • Blue Jays crush eight homers in 18-4 rout of Red Sox, Tatis' grand slam lifts Padres Blue Jays crush eight homers in 18-4 rout of Red Sox, Tatis' grand slam lifts Padres

    The Toronto Blue Jays produced an offensive avalanche as they humbled American League (AL) East rivals the Boston Red Sox 18-4.

    Toronto lit up Boston with eight homers on 20 hits in Sunday's devastating MLB victory at Fenway Park.

    Teoscar Hernandez hit a pair of three-run homers, while Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Cavan Biggio, Rowdy Tellez and Marcus Semien also went deep.

    It was a devastating display as the Blue Jays pounded the Red Sox, who allowed the most home runs in their history on home soil.

    Bichette became the third player in Blue Jays history with a four-hit, five-run game as Guerrero continued his stellar season – the Toronto star now leads in MLB in home runs, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS and total bases.


    Slam Diego!

    The San Diego Padres defeated the New York Mets 7-3 thanks to Fernando Tatis Jr. Tatis hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the seventh inning to help snap a four-game skid. Padres team-mate Manny Machado followed with a home run.

    Walker Buehler pitched six scoreless innings as World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Texas Rangers 5-3. Buehler allowed just five hits to remain unbeaten since 2019. The Dodgers ace has now recorded a loss in 22 consecutive starts, the second longest streak in franchise history – behind Kirby Higbe's 23 straight starts.

    Craig Kimbrel closed out the Chicago Cubs' 2-0 win over the St Louis Cardinals. The Cubs completed a three-game sweep for their fifth consecutive victory to move level atop the National League (NL) Central. Kimbrel struck out three in the ninth inning. In each of his last seven appearances, he has posted a save without allowing a hit. According to Stats Perform, it is the third time in Kimbrel's career he has achieved the feat in seven-plus consecutive games. No other pitcher has had more than one such streak since saves became an official stat in 1969.


    Yankees reeling after latest loss

    The slumping New York Yankees were shut out 7-0 by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees have now lost seven of nine games and 13 of 18.


    Randy slam

    Randy Arozarena hit his first career grand slam in the Tampa Bay Rays' 7-1 rout of the Baltimore Orioles. Arozarena homered in the seventh inning.



    Sunday's results

    Philadelphia Phillies 7-0 New York Yankees
    Washington Nationals 5-0 San Francisco Giants
    Atlanta Braves 6-4 Miami Marlins
    Tampa Bay Rays 7-1 Baltimore Orioles
    Chicago White Sox 4-1 Detroit Tigers
    Cincinnati Reds 6-2 Colorado Rockies
    San Diego Padres 7-3 New York Mets
    Seattle Mariners 6-2 Cleveland Indians
    Toronto Blue Jays 18-4 Boston Red Sox
    Houston Astros 14-3 Minnesota Twins
    Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
    Oakland Athletics 6-3 Kansas City Royals
    Los Angeles Angels 10-3 Arizona Diamondbacks
    Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 Texas Rangers
    Chicago Cubs 2-0 St Louis Cardinals


    Rays at White Sox

    It will be a blockbuster showdown as the two best teams in the AL clash on Monday. AL East pacesetters the Rays (42-24), who own the best record in the American League, travel to Central leaders the White Sox (41-24). Tyler Glasnow takes to the mound for Tampa Bay, while the White Sox counter with Lance Lynn.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.