This evening sees Manchester City and Manchester United do battle in the first Thursday night Manchester derby since 1994. That ended in a 5-0 win for the Red Devils but the scoreline looks set to be much, much closer this time around; City and United are both caught in the race for Champions League qualification, separated by just one point and one place in the Premier League table.
Indeed, there’s incredibly little to choose between both sides that this moment in time, so which City stars would actually improve United is a rather interesting debate. We put that exact questions to FootballFanCast readers in our exclusive poll earlier this week; here’s a look at who made the top three.
If feels like we’ve seen nothing yet from Leroy Sane, whose influence and performances have steadily gained in stature throughout his first season at the Etihad Stadium. The opening stages of the campaign bore little fruit, but since mid-December the 21-year-old has notched up nine goals and two assists across all competitions. Blessed with an eye for goal and phenomenal speed, City clearly have a real player on their hands and it’s frightening to think what levels his form could reach next season after having a year to settle in England. Jose Mourinho has spent much of the season bemoaning his side’s profligacy in attack; Sane would be the perfect long-term, but currently out-of-reach, remedy.
He may have played a pivotal role in making City Manchester’s most dominant force since 2012, firing the Sky Blues to two Premier League titles, but Manchester United fans clearly have respect for Sergio Aguero. Even amid a season which has seen him struggle for form at times and be overtaken in the pecking order – albeit incredibly briefly – by summer signing Gabriel Jesus, the Argentine has still netted 17 times in 26 appearances, ranking fifth in the division’s scoring charts. Seemingly not the perfect Guardiola striker, if Aguero were ever to switch Manchester allegiances it would almost certainly be this summer. However, that’s still an incredibly remote possibility.
Since being deemed more useful to Chelsea in the transfer market than on the pitch by Jose Mourinho in January 2014, Kevin de Bruyne has transformed himself into one of world football’s chief creative midfielders. The Belgium international has suffered dips in form throughout the campaign but leads the way in the Premier League for assists, with 13, whilst his goal tally of four could be a lot higher – he’s hit the woodwork more than ten times this season. The 25-year-old is steadily establishing himself as the main man at the Eithad Stadium, so the chances of a reunion with Mourinho at Manchester United – especially considering the circumstances surrounding his Stamford Bridge exit – are virtually non-existent.