The Manchester Derby is fast approaching and the preparation mounting, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are inching towards their first major matches as Manchester City and Manchester United managers, respectively. For the first time ever, both Manchester sides look formidable to any potential opponents in Europe, and with seemingly unlimited talent at their disposal, Manchester is slowly becoming the capital city it is destined to be in the footballing world.
With all of the aforementioned talent in the city, it would only make sense to compare and preview either side before the match. Here, below, are my picks for the top 15, in a list that perhaps outlines the true depth of unbelievable talent in the warmup of the most anticipated derby in Mancunian history.
Note: If you haven’t read the original article ranking players from 30-15, you may want to have a look to avoid any strange surprises.
15. Anthony Martial, Manchester United, Winger, 21
Despite his slow start this year, Anthony Martial defied all odds last season and picked up 14 goals and 8 assists after being written off by the entire Premier League last season. United was a bit too dependent on a player who is on the fringes of being world class, but in a season of turmoil, it was nice to see every major paper making high-profile retractions.
14. Eric Bailly, Manchester United, Centre-Back, 22
Physically formidable, technically clinical and surprisingly composed given his ridiculous aggression, Eric Bailly could be considered the best defender in the Premier League by the next Manchester Derby. Over the first four games, he showed his technical class and aggression, reminding United fans of Nemanja Vidic. United fans already love him so much.
13. Vincent Kompany, Manchester City, Centre-Back, 30
An inch ahead of Bailly due to experience, Manchester City’s defence looks exponentially better with the Belgian captain at the heart of it. Injury problems keep him outside the top 10, but when fit, he is an outstanding defender. Recovering from a long-term injury that saw him miss the Euros, Kompany is an outside bet to feature in the derby.
12. Claudio Bravo, Manchester City, Goalkeeper, 33
City’s signing of Claudio Bravo from Barcelona came out of the bag. He seems a little bit old for a player who cost north of £15 million, but his quality on the ball is exactly what Guardiola craves in a goalkeeper. He also has the tendency to pull an inhuman save out of the bag. The Premier League’s goalkeeping quality is immense, but Bravo is up there with the best and represents a significant upgrade over Joe Hart.
11. Fernandinho, Manchester City, Midfielder, 31
Fernandinho is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League, functioning as a metronome at the heart of Manchester City’s midfield and making the Citizens tick. He’s intelligent, breaks forward with great pace for a holding midfielder, has experience at the highest level and consistently performs on that level too.
10. Luke Shaw, Manchester United, Left-Back, 21
Those who watch Luke Shaw regularly know he is the best fullback in the Premier League by far, aged 21. He’s almost unbeatable defensively, with pace, intelligence and a good tackle. Breaking forward, the way he drives United can be described in the same manner as Paul Pogba, who is known for that trait. He could peak with the best form of a left-back in the history of football, and he seems to be rarely under the radar for an English talent since his leg injury.
9. Daley Blind, Manchester United, Centre-Back, 26
Daley Blind is the best defender in Manchester- a statement that nobody seems to be able to comprehend. He’s played well for over a year despite not even being recognised the smartest player in Manchester, arguably the best passer in Manchester and, unrelatedly, the best hair in Manchester. Blind continues to improve with each passing week, too, and he will only keep getting better because of his ability to identify and improve weaknesses in his game.
8. Ilkay Gundogan, Manchester City, Midfielder, 25
Yet to make an appearance for Manchester City, the derby could be Ilkay Gundogan’s first. A midfielder blessed with a well-rounded skillset, Gundogan will be missed at Borussia Dortmund, a side he left for peanuts given his quality. He’s yet to play 30 league games in a season in his career due to injury problems, which is a red flag, but this is a midfielder who was the best in the world when Dortmund reached the Champions League final.
7. David Silva, Manchester City, Attacking Midfielder, 30
Pep Guardiola has brought the best out of David Silva for the first time in a couple of years, and he seems to be making Manchester City tick while progressing their play with great intensity. Technically, he’s one of the most brilliant players in the Premier League- he just needs to consistently offer end product and stay fit.
6. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Manchester United, Attacking Midfielder, 27
Gifted on and off the ball, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is part of the group of European footballers whose numbers look like they came out of a computer game. With 23 goals and 32 assists in all competitions last season, Mkhitaryan was the Bundesliga’s best footballer and one of the best in Europe. He’s yet to make a major impact for United, and will likely miss the derby after picking up an injury while representing Armenia, but the best will come from Mkhitaryan.
5. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City, Striker, 28
Sergio Aguero would be fighting for top spot on this list, if not for his poor injury record that often backs up Manchester City’s title challenges. He has one of the best scoring rates in Premier League history, and already has six this season, though three were against Steaua Bucharest and two of the other three were penalties.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Manchester United, Striker, 34
Manchester United is the latest club to benefit from the presence of journeyman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been among Europe’s elite for his entire career, from everywhere in Europe. His presence is infectious, he seems to uplift those around him, the Swede is already a massive leader at the club and none of that mentions the fact that, even at 34, he remains an incredible footballer.
3. Paul Pogba, Manchester United, Midfielder, 23
At just 23, Paul Pogba is already in the top bracket of midfielders in world football, able to outplay opposition with his unbelievably complete blend of attributes. Everything from heading the ball to controlling a game with passing is in Pogba’s locker, and he’s only going to become a fine player as the years go by.
2. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City, Attacking Midfielder, 25
Kevin De Bruyne is, without a doubt, the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League, and he is contending to be the best player overall. Once a reject from Chelsea, De Bruyne became a part of the computer numbers club at Wolfsburg before joining Manchester City for a fee that is the third most in Premier League history. He would’ve recorded the same computer numbers, if not for an unlucky injury that watered his statistics down to 17 goals and 16 assists in 45.
1. David De Gea, Manchester United, Goalkeeper, 25
The only mark of consistency in a truly unstable couple of years in Manchester has been David de Gea, the goalkeeper who is currently staking his claim as one of the best players in world football. With superlative reflexes, great distribution of the ball and increasing domination of his area, he is well on his way to becoming one of the best goalkeepers of all time, and he currently is the best player in Manchester.