Football: Manuel Akanji and life behind the “Wall of Wonders”


SoccerManuel Akanji and the life behind the “Wall of Wonders”

The centre-back signed on January 1ah September at Manchester City, where he played his first three games. Enough to gain confidence in the face of the Swiss team’s encounters.

Valentine Schnorch

(Bad Ragaz)

Manuel Akanji returned to the Swiss team with a different status: he is now a Manchester City player.

Toto Marti/Blick/freshfocus

To believe his words, Manuel Akanji wasn’t very demanding. Was the Premier League a goal? “Not necessarily.” One of the biggest European clubs then? Similar answer: He just wanted to make progress. And yet, within a few days, the Swiss team’s centre-back found himself in Manchester City, the reigning English champions and one of the big favorites for the highest title in European football.

The trajectory itself is not crazy. Akanji had long since proven his qualities on the ball, which is exactly what Pep Guardiola is looking for in the central defenders he has recruited. His defensive qualities also made him a leading player in Dortmund. So at 27 it wasn’t totally crazy to imagine him joining a better club. “Above all, I wanted to take a step,” repeated the Swiss national player on Tuesday at the sidelines of the national team meeting in Bad Ragaz. In the end he passed the “Wonderwall” (“Wall of Wonders”), a city dear to the Gallagher brothers.

In no time. Overnight, Akanji swept away an endless summer as a sidekick at Dortmund (he was left in the stands awaiting clarification of his situation, he who was a year from the end of his contract and whom the German club wanted to promote). end in city. It was at the very end of the summer transfer window, June 1ah last September. “When this was brought to my attention I thought about it a bit because it was a big step forward,” he agrees. But many players would like to play for such a big club, which makes me very proud. When everything became concrete, I was really happy.”

It all came together

Without taking the time to really understand. “It all happened very quickly after the clubs had reached an agreement,” explains the Zurich native. I flew to Manchester for a medical check up and then returned to Switzerland for the birth of my son. Two days later I returned to Manchester, initially for individual training. On Monday I attended the joint session. And on Tuesday I was on the pitch for the Champions League game against Sevilla. With a 4-0 win.

“With such good players on the team, I can’t expect to play 90 minutes in every game.”

Manuel Akanji, Switzerland international and Manchester City defender

He continued last week’s 2-1 win against his former club Dortmund, also as a regular, before playing his first Premier League game against Wolverhampton (3-0 win) this weekend. dream beginnings. “I know it won’t be easy,” he said. With such good players on the team, I can’t expect to play 90 minutes in every game. But I want to make decisions difficult for the coach and be present on the field when he calls me. It must be said that the competition is fierce: Rúben Dias and John Stones are routine, while Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Aké have been injured in recent weeks but elements that are regularly hosted by Guardiola remain.

“Guardiola sees everything”

In City, Akanji thus enters a higher dimension. Featuring one of the top rated technicians in the world. “He sees everything that happens to him on the ground, notes the head of the Swiss defense. He writes down a lot of details and tries to help the player to improve. Of course there are things that I can use and recreate for the national team. Above all, he meets the highest championship in the world.

Manuel Akanji made his Premier League debut in City's 3-0 win over Wolverhampton on Saturday.

Manuel Akanji made his Premier League debut in City’s 3-0 win over Wolverhampton on Saturday.

fresh focus

His first impressions? “I think it’s a little bit more physical football than the Bundesliga, with a bit of a quicker game, he observes. But it’s hard to say, I’ve only played one game. So for the rest, I’ll have to ask myself the question again in a few weeks. Hope he keeps playing. He will have convinced Guardiola with that. And that patience paid off.

In the meantime, Manuel Akanji can use the Swiss team to take a breather after three intense weeks. But not too much: the selection’s recent appearances have shown that he was an indispensable leader of this national team.

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