Although the fee was officially undisclosed, Manchester City were understood to have paid in the region £28 million for Swansea City’s in-form striker Wilfried Bony.
When he returns from the ongoing African Cup of Nations, Bony will take his place in a forward department starring Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stefan Jovetic, so we pose the question – does Bony have what it takes to succeed at the highest level? Let’s compare him to his fellow City strikers and see what we can discover.
Taking the recent XI fielded for the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal as an indication of their current first choice line up, it appears City coach Manuel Pellegrini currently favours Aguero on his own, supported by attacking midfielders such as David Silva and Jesus Navas.
Has Bony been bought as a viable strike partner for Aguero, or simply as back up? Whatever the plan, Bony may view Dzeko as the striker that he might nudge ahead of in the pecking order. The tall Bosnian has the worst average of attempts from his chances of City’s existing strikers– 48.5% compared to Aguero (62.2%) and Jovetic (72.0%). Bony actually rates highest in this department, with an impressive 76.9% of his chances being converted into efforts on goal.
Aguero is the most shot happy, averaging 5.9 tries per game, but Bony is next-best with 4.6, and actually averages the most shots on target of the four players, with 43.9%. With the likes of Silva, Navas and Samir Nasri supplying him, if City make Bony the focal point of their attacks, those numbers could increase.
Bony showed flashes of his all-round ability while with the Swans, and even though he dribbles less frequently than his 3 rivals – an average of 5.9 dribbles per game compared to Aguero (12.5), Jovetic (10.5), Dzeko (8.2) – but his percentage of ‘good’ dribbles is a respectable 37.6%.
“What can sometimes go against Wilf is that he’s so powerful and strong he wants to show that strength,” said Bony’s former manager Gary Monk, after the Ghanaian showed slightly too much power in an agricultural challenge on Southampton defender Maya Yoshida.
Should his new boss Pellegrini need a frontman capable of holding the ball up after receiving the ball in the air, that strength could come in handy. Bony was first to the ball from long balls 34.6% of the time at Swansea, with none of Aguero, Dzeko or Jovetic making the 30% mark.
His robust frame and eagerness to ‘stick the boot in’, also gives him some defensive value in the team – his 5.5 average of defensive actions per game outweighs any of the other three.
Should he be paired with Aguero, Bony proved at Swansea he is more than capable of creating chances for City’s 14-goal Argentinian, boasting the highest chance creation success rate (38.1%) of the four. He also looks an equally suitable partner for Jovetic, who tends to drop deeper into the ‘hole’ between defence and midfield.
It could be argued Bony is the most well-rounded of City’s strikers, combining the finishing prowess of Aguero, with the physical presence of Dzeko – but crucially, can he convince Pellegrini of his worth?