By Noel Whelan

19th Sep, 2022 | 12:00pm

Guardiola could freeze out multiple Man City stars after BBC update - pundit

Noel Whelan has backed Manuel Akanji to keep his place at the heart of the Man City defence after his Premier League debut against Wolves on Saturday (17 September).

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the 27-year-old “complete centre-back” could now consign some of his colleagues to a spell on the bench.

Speaking to BBC Sport’s Simon Stone after the 3-0 win over Wolves, Man City boss Pep Guardiola insisted Akanji’s performance was “more than exceptional”.

The former Barcelona manager claimed the Switzerland international’s “aggressive” display allowed his side to control the tempo and the situation during the game.

Akanji cost Man City a reported £15million when he joined from Borussia Dortmund on transfer deadline day (1 September).

Ruben Dias, John Stones, Nathan Ake, and Aymeric Laporte have all struggled with injury recently.

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When asked if he thought Akanji could keep his place in the City rearguard, he told Football Insider’s Ewan Kingsbury: “I do.

“I don’t think he’s been brought in just for backup. He looks a really useful player, and someone they can use and utilise throughout the season.

“We’ve seen his interviews, he’s a very confident young man. He’s quick, aggressive, good in the air – he’s the complete centre-back.

“I think he’s living up to his comments when he came in and was introduced to the media.

“These are opportunities you have to take. Players like Laporte are out of the picture right now, and he’s doing everything right to stake his claim and stay ahead of him in the side.

“He’s making everyone sit up and take notice.”

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