How will Man City cope without injured Laporte?

first_imgAymeric Laporte looks set to be out for the rest of 2019 after undergoing knee surgery, dealing a significant blow to Manchester City.The 25-year-old was sent to Barcelona to see trusted specialist Dr Ramon Cugat and, following tests, the surgeon operated on the defender’s cartilage and meniscus damage.Laporte has at least not ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, which was first feared when he fell to the ground in agony after a clumsy challenge on Brighton’s Adam Webster in the 4-0 victory on Saturday. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream But an absence of at least three months will have a sizeable impact on Pep Guardiola’s squad as City bid to become the first side to win three successive Premier League titles since 2009.Guardiola had described Laporte as “the best left-sided centre-back in Europe” ahead of the Brighton game.Indeed, such is the esteem that the Frenchman is held in, Laporte is the only transfer target that Guardiola has ever returned to after initially being turned down.City first tried to sign him in the summer of 2016 before he finally joined from Athletic for a fee of £57 million (€65m/$74m) in January 2018.Since then he has played in every Champions League match – other than a trip to Basel shortly after arriving – and has made more Premier League starts for the club than any other outfield player.Laporte Guardiola GFXHe will, thus, not be easy to replace.Frustratingly for Guardiola, his squad was already one man short of the four centre-backs he would have preferred to have right now.Vincent Kompany left at the end of last season after 10 years with the club to take over as player-manager at Anderlecht. The veteran wasn’t replaced, leaving City with just two other senior centre-backs in Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones – the latter will return from his own injury after the international break.Pep does have some exciting youngsters emerging from the Academy in Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis. Highly-rated Spain Under-19 international Garcia impressed in three appearances in last season’s Carabao Cup, while Harwood-Bellis stood out on the pre-season tour to the Far East.One or both could feature in the Carabao Cup clash at Preston later this month but Guardiola will want more experience in the Premier League.City had looked at signing a fourth centre-back in the summer but opted not to meet Leicester’s asking price for England defender Harry Maguire, who moved to United for £80m (€88m/$97m) instead. They also decided against bidding for Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt – the client of agent Mino Raiola – who transferred to Juventus.Midfielder Fernandinho was identified as City’s fourth-choice option with Guardiola spotting his potential to play in that position.The Catalan has said that the Brazilian could play in 10 different positions and he became a viable centre-back alternative after deputising in the role in the 3-1 victory over Arsenal last season.Following the club-record signing of Rodri from Atletico Madrid in the summer, City now have two recognised holding midfielders and Fernandinho is able to be used as cover for both positions.But replacing Laporte will not be easy.Defensively he has been consistently outstanding, the one exception being two bad mistakes in last season’s Champions League defeat to Tottenham.So uncharacteristic were his errors that Guardiola put them in the same category as Sergio Aguero’s tight offside call – spotted by VAR – and Fernando Llorente’s “handball” winner when describing City’s lack of fortune on that night.Guardiola on FernandinhoBut it’s not only his defensive qualities that make him a key figure in Guardiola’s setup.Laporte is crucial to City’s attacking style, particularly against sides that defend with a low block.Only Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk made more passes out of defence last season – and he was named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year last week.Laporte shifts possession quickly, driving balls out to the right wing to change the emphasis of the attack or firing balls into David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in between the lines in order to build up momentum.While opponents will still find it difficult to create opportunities against a side that will continue to dominate possession, his passing ability could be difficult to replace.Fernandinho is a more natural and dynamic passer – although he lacks Laporte’s aerial quality – and when Ilkay Gundogan played just ahead of him in that win against the Gunners, City dominated the game with speedy and intelligent passing.Otamendi, who could have left in the summer had Kompany not departed first, will become an even more key figure.He actually holds the Premier League record for most passes in a season as a defender – 3,074 in City’s ‘Centurion’ campaign.But some opponents have tried to isolate him on the ball, as his occasionally slow passing is seen as a perceived weakness.Stones, meanwhile, has built a reputation for his ball-playing skills. But he too can be prone to lapses, such as his mistake for England that cost them in the Nations League defeat to the Netherlands in the summer.Guardiola has been full of praise for the former Everton defender but for the past two seasons, Stones has been out of the picture for the crucial second half of the campaign.While City are reluctant to put a timescale on the length of Laporte’s absence, they hope to have him back for the run-in this term.Coping without him until then will not be straightforward for Guardiola. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

LeBron James is the AP’s male athlete of 2018

first_img Receive latest stories and local news in your email: Joey Logano6 Follow AthletePts By signing up you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Share: James Harden8 Kevin Durant16 Tua Tagovailoa21 Daniel Cormier9 Drew Brees25 On the court, James remained dominant. He averaged 28.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.4 assists in 2018 between his time with the Cavaliers and Lakers, playing in 102 games through Thursday.“In addition to being on everyone’s short list as one of the league’s all-time greatest players, LeBron is among the hardest working players and is a thoughtful and impactful leader,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “He serves on the executive committee of the Players Association even as he builds an impressive media company of his own. And what’s most inspiring, and no surprise given his talent and focus, is how he’s done all of this while embracing his unique opportunity to positively impact communities in need.”James becomes the third man to win the award at least three times, joining Lance Armstrong (a four-time winner from 2002 through 2005), Tiger Woods (1997, 1999, 2000 and 2006) and Michael Jordan (1991, 1992 and 1993).Armstrong won the Tour de France in each of his years as the AP recipient, — though he was later stripped of the titles in a doping scandal. Woods won at least one major and was the PGA’s Player of the Year in all four of his AP-winning years. Jordan’s three awards coincided with his first three NBA championships in Chicago. And James’ first two times getting the award were in 2013 and 2016, years where his fingerprints mussed up the Larry O’Brien Trophy in a title celebration. Brooks Koepka16 Pat Mahomes37 Justify33 LeBron James was named The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Darren Abate, File) Novak Djokovic6 Terence Crawford3 LeBron James78 Follow The Columbian on Instagram And this is just the start. James and his LeBron James Family Foundation have enormous plans for the school in the years ahead.“It is already such a success,” James said. “And it’s something that I never thought was possible until we made it happen. So yes, it’s been a pretty good year.”A busy year, too.He had a documentary series called “Shut Up and Dribble,” which discusses the role athletes have in the current political and cultural climate. His show “The Shop,” featuring James and friends talking about life in the backdrop of a barbershop, has been enormously popular. James has faced criticism in recent days for posting rap lyrics that included the phrase “Jewish money,” for which he apologized, and even rival coaches have spoken out about how he’s used his fame for good.“To this day, he hasn’t missed a step,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said earlier this year. “He hasn’t fallen off the ledge and he’s been a brilliant example for millions of kids, especially kids with lesser opportunity and haven’t had the same advantages as others.” LeBron James went to the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive year. He changed addresses again, leaving his Cleveland home for the second time to join the Los Angeles Lakers in the biggest move of free agency over the summer. He remained arguably the dominant player in the basketball, adding even more glitz on a legacy that reached epic status long ago.It was, by any measure, a fantastic year for James.And even without a title, it may have been his most significant year.For the third time, James has been selected as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year — after 2018 saw him continue to excel on the court, open the “I Promise” school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and further use his voice as an activist who bristled at being told to “shut up and dribble.”“I would describe it as a success because I was able to inspire so many people throughout the year,” James said. “I got to go back to China, to Paris, to Berlin, I opened up a school. And all these kids I was able to see, all over the world and in my hometown, I was able to inspire, to make them think they can be so much more than what they think they’re capable of being. That was my outlook for 2018.”James received 78 points in balloting by U.S. editors and news directors announced Thursday, while Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts was second with 46. Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was third, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was fourth and Triple Crown winner Justify was fifth. Published: December 27, 2018, 11:30am GO LeBron James is the AP’s male athlete of 2018 Continues to excel on and off the court Share: Luka Modric8 Lewis Hamilton3 By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer Alex Ovechkin41 Mookie Betts46 And James’ closest rivals in the AP balloting this year — Betts and Ovechkin — also won titles in 2018.James’ year included no championship, no scoring title, no MVP award. But some of the people closest to James still considered 2018 to be his finest year yet.“I like to talk about generations,” said Miami guard Dwyane Wade, one of James’ best friends. “There will never be another Michael Jordan because he was the first to be a global superstar, the first to take the NBA to another level. There will never be another LeBron James, and a lot of it is from what he’s done away from the game. Him understanding his voice has been so refreshing and so important to the culture and his friends.”The “I Promise” school is perhaps James’ most prized accomplishment yet. It opened in July for 240 third- and fourth-graders, a public school in Akron that is perhaps like none other. Families — not just the kids — get support there, whether it’s by helping put food on the table or providing adult education or even legal assistance. On the court, he was already an icon.Off the court, he’s looking to be one as well in the years ahead.“The next star is out there,” James said. “And I’m not just talking sports. Doctor, nurse, pilots, they’re out there. The one thing they need is knowing that people care about them and care about their lives. I believe it’s part of my job, and I take it very seriously, to try to tap into that.”2018 Male Athlete of the Year Voting Shohei Ohtani7 Kylian Mbappe14last_img read more