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Joao Tralhao worked with the promising defender at youth level and believes a man heading to the Etihad Stadium will thrive in English football

Ruben Dias is a “special” talent and boasts the leadership skills to fill a Vincent Kompany-shaped void at Manchester City, claims the 23-year-old’s former youth coach.

Pep Guardiola is yet to find suitable cover for a former talisman at the Etihad Stadium who headed back to Belgium in the summer of 2019.

Kompany had endured injury struggles during his time in Manchester, but he was a commanding presence when fit and a captain who always led by example.

Various options have been tried in an effort to plug a sizeable gap in the Blues’ defensive unit, but few have convinced.

That has forced Guardiola back into the transfer market and towards Benfica star Dias.

A £62 million ($79m) deal for the promising centre-half has been put in place, with Joao Tralhao backing a player he worked with in the academy system at Estadio da Luz to thrive in England.

He told Sky Sports of Dias: “He was my captain but he was not only my captain, he was the captain of every age group that he played because his profile is that of the natural leader.

“He likes to lead. He knows how to lead. He knows how to be the coach’s voice on the pitch and in the dressing room. He knows everything about leadership.

“You will see that at City once he is adapted. He will lead everything. I mean that in a good way. He will be the coach’s voice. A player who can help the team do their tasks correctly.

“He will not just be a shouting leader, showing it with that behaviour, pushing players by saying, ‘Come on, come on’. As well as that, he will be the one who actually leads the tasks. Telling them how they should organise in terms of the coach’s idea. He can do both.

“He is a very complete player in terms of his defensive approach. He can play with the defensive line high and space in behind him, but if you ask him to play with a low block he can do that as well.

“He is good on the ball, knowing when he can make the pass, so he will be able to adapt very quickly to the manager’s ideas in terms of the build-up too.”

City are looking for another option that can offer inspiration on and off the ball, with Tralhao confident that Dias will tick those boxes.

He added: “It is not easy for him to leave Benfica because he has been there so long. He arrived so young and now he is leaving.

“But, on the other hand, going to a club like Manchester City, playing in the Premier League for one of the most important clubs in the world, is a challenge and he is excited for that.

“All the memories I have are positive. He is an example, a role model for every young player because of what he does on the pitch, in training sessions, and how he lives off the pitch.

“From the moment that he arrived at the academy I knew that he was going to do very well. You could see it when he was young. But it was only when I started working closely with him at U18 level that I really knew he was going to the top.

“It was not his talent. It was his capacity to work. His focus. His mentality that he had in every session, every day. His ability to compete is amazing. He is special.”

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September 29, 2020
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