Man City seal GBP62M deal for Ruben Dias

LONDON (AFP) – Manchester City announced the signing of Portuguese international centre-back Ruben Dias (pic below) on a six-year deal from Benfica on Tuesday in the hope of solving the defensive problems that have dogged Pep Guardiola’s side over the past year.

Benfica on Sunday confirmed they had reached an agreement to sell Dias for EUR68 million plus an extra EUR3.6 million in potential bonuses, with Nicolas Otamendi heading in the opposite direction for EUR15 million.

“To have the opportunity to join a club like Manchester City is a fantastic opportunity for me and one I couldn’t turn down,” said Dias, who has 19 international caps, in a City statement.

“Their success speaks for itself. They have been the dominant team in England over the last few years, playing an attacking brand of football which I feel suits my own game.

“It is really exciting to be part of such a talented squad and to play for a world-class manager like Pep Guardiola, who has a proven track record of developing young players like myself.

“I believe I can improve here, at a club whose ambitions match my own, and I will give everything to be successful and win titles.”

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said at the weekend that selling Dias was necessary for the club to balance their accounts after a defeat by Greek side PAOK in the third qualifying round of the Champions League ended their hopes of reaching the group stage.

Dias becomes City’s third signing of the summer after centre-back Nathan Ake from Bournemouth and Spanish winger Ferran Torres.

The need for more defensive reinforcements was evident as City were thrashed 5-2 at home to Leicester last Sunday – the first time a Guardiola side has ever conceded five in his distinguished managerial career.

“Ruben is a player we have admired for some time and we have been impressed with how he has progressed at Benfica,” City Director of Football Txiki Begiristain said.

“He has developed into a real leader and as a defender, he has all the attributes we are looking for. He is strong in the air, good in one-v-one situations and technically he is very good, so we are confident he can thrive in our system.”

However, Dias becomes just the latest in a string of expensive defensive signings, totalling over EUR450 million, since Guardiola was appointed in 2016.

Despite huge price tags, John Stones, Joao Cancelo and Benjamin Mendy are not first-team regulars, while Ake has been signed as back-up to Aymeric Laporte.