The departure of Vincent Kompany this summer doesn’t just leave Pep Guardiola with a hole in his squad, but it gives him a difficult decision to make as well.
It’s a decision he has never been confronted with before in his managerial career. Who to appoint club captain?
At Barcelona Guardiola inherited Carles Puyol as captain and the centre back remained in place throughout his four-year spell at the club. When Guardiola arrived at Bayern Munich Philipp Lahm was skipper and again he remained as captain for the Catalan’s three years in Bavaria.
It was a similar story on Guardiola’s arrival in Manchester. Kompany was captain and there was no need to take the armband off the greatest skipper the club has ever had.
But now the 33-year-old has opted to end his 11-year spell with the Blues it has given Guardiola a dilemma. For the first time in his career he has to choose a new leader. The route he takes with the decision will tell us something new about the most profiled, publicised manager in the game.
The City boss isn’t short of leaders in his squad and many of them have captaincy experience. Guardiola has always valued a strong leadership group and aside from Kompany, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyene David Silva and Sergio Aguero are City’s five ‘squad captains’.
Fernandinho, Silva and Aguero have all captained City in the Premier League this season, as has Fabian Delph who wore the armband for the 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace in December. In the Champions League Nicolas Otamendi was captain from the start in the 2-1 win at Hoffenheim while Raheem Sterling was briefly skipper in the hammering of Schalke in the last-16 second leg.
Kompany himself talked up the captaincy credentials of Bernardo Silva earlier this month, so Guardiola has plenty of candidates to step into the Belgian’s enormous shoes at the Etihad, but that doesn’t make the decision any easier.
Much will depend on whether City are after a short-term option as captain or if Guardiola wants a long-term solution. In Puyol, Lahm and Kompany, Barcelona, Bayern and City had captains for 10 years, six years and eight years respectively. All have written their names into the folklore at those clubs and become part of the furniture during years of success.