Pep Guardiola has identified Ruben Dias as Vincent Kompany’s successor at Manchester City, hinting that the defender could take on a new role in the future.
City take on Vincent Kompany’s Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday evening, meaning the former Blues captain will return to the Etihad Stadium for the first time since he left the club in 2019.
Regarded as one of the greatest defenders of his generation, he’s on track to earning similar reverence as a coach.
In their first season under Kompany’s management, Burnley are on the brink of earning promotion back to the Premier League having established a 19-point buffer between themselves and the play-off places.
Kompany enjoyed a stellar career at City, leading the club to four Premier League titles, four League Cups and two FA Cups across 360 appearances.
But what Kompany is remembered for more than anything is his leadership. In the season following Kompany’s departure City looked like they lacked a leader in defence, but that all changed when Ruben Dias arrived from Benfica in September 2020.
Not only has Dias been a reassuring defensive presence, but his attitude and dedication strike an eerie resemblance to Kompany.
“Always since day one, always positive… he’s so positive,” Guardiola said of Dias ahead of Saturday’s match.
“His mentality is top of the top. That’s why he can play as a central defender in a top, top club like City.
“[If he’s] not playing – [he] never complains, works with the same methodology and work ethic, arriving two hours before, leaving two hours after [training]. Nothing changes. He lives 24 hours for his profession.
“The type [of defender he is], quite similar with Vinny [Kompany], who it’s not about how I play myself. Ruben is not playing just his game. He’s playing for everyone. He has the ability to see and solve problems. His character is so important.”
Last season Dias was voted into City’s leadership group, and wore the captain’s armband on a number of occasions when Fernandinho wasn’t playing.
With the future of current club captain Ilkay Gundogan uncertain, Guardiola hinted that Dias could be the man to take on the captain’s armband.
“His leadership is huge, especially even when he didn’t play,” Pep said.
“You should see the impact [he has] before the game, at half-time, or even after… He behaved the same as if he was playing. That makes you deserve to be a captain.”