Ruben Dias has been one of Manchester City’s best players since the Portuguese moved from boyhood club Benfica to the Etihad Stadium. He slotted perfectly into the team after joining in 2020. The Portuguese centre-back became a key part of this City squad helping the team achieve tremendous success in the last three seasons.
With excellent defensive displays and leadership ability, Dias soon distinguished himself as one of the Pep Guardiola’s best signings. Having joined the club at a time when city was experiencing defensive woes, he was a breath of fresh air. His performance brought back stability to City’s defence and helped the team reclaim the Premier League title from Liverpool in 2021.
He was so good that despite making his debut in October 2020, he was named the Manchester City Player of the Month for November 2020. That spurred him on to do even better outshining even Kevin De Bruyne.
So it was not a surprise when won the FWA Footballer of the Year for the 2020–21 season ahead of Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne. That made him the first defender to win the award since Steve Nicol in the 1988–89 season. Dias was also named both Manchester City’s Player of the Season and the Premier League Player of the Season. He was that good.
It’s not easy to maintain such high standards. And so it is understandable if the centre-back has not been able to perform as such high levels in the last two seasons. But he has been good. Last season he was frequently used by the jeweller helping the team secured the treble.
Body has been a shadow of his former self this term. His game has been fraught with mistakes and he has often been below par. For a player that has achieved such accolades in the past, he is not expected to perform like your average defender. Yet that has been the case for most games this season.
Recently, he just seems to be getting worse. In City’s 4-4 draw with Chelsea, Dias was well below par. He gave away the penalty with a rash challenge which saw Chelsea equalise to deny City three points. At his best, Dias will not be the one to deny City three points. Instead, he will be helping the team win.
He reached a new low in a 45-minute shocker against RB Leipzig in the Champions League. After picking up an unnecessary yellow card for a high foot, he was absolutely skinned for the German side’s second goal. But he got worse in the course of the game and came close to a second booking before being hooked off at half time.
In what seemed like a reversal of roles, Nathan Ake came in to clean up the mess. The Netherlands international stabilized the defence, helping the team secure a comeback win.
With John Stones hardly dependable these days as a result of injuries, City need the old Dias back to retain their Premier League title and even the Champions League.
Hopefully, the 26-year-old can get his act together and re-established the form that saw him become one of City’s most important players in the last few years.