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Onuoha praises Man City award winner Dias

Sat 22 May 2021 | 9:47

The ex-Man City defender told Stats Perform the reasons behind Ruben Dias adapting to the Premier League so smoothly.

Ruben Dias

’ enthusiasm for the defensive role and his leadership qualities helped him have an impressive debut

Premier League

season,

Nedum Onuoha

told

Stats Perform

.

The Portugal international is named FWA Footballer of the Year, after helping

Manchester City

win their third title in four years as well as their fourth EFL Cup in a row under the reign of Pep Guardiola.

Dias is the first defender after Steve Nicol in 1989 to win that prize. Onuoha thinks the 24-year-old has Premier League defender’s most celebrated qualities.

"

We're in a country where a fan will clap you just as much for making a tackle as they will for scoring and a goal. That's not the norm around the world,"

he said.

"All those things that sort of made the Premier League what it what it is, I think he thrived within them. He seemed to take up a leadership-type role, he's somebody who wants to defend all the time, somebody who wants to try and win all the duels possible.

"When somebody's trying to wind up to have a shot, he wants to throw his body in there. He fits perfectly what's required from an elite centre-back in the Premier League."

Dias provided more block than any other defender in the league during this campaign (22). The Portuguese’s 209 passes into the final third make it clear how expert he is in helping City get on the front foot.

"

He wants to go and duel with his attacker, he wants to make it as hard as possible for him all the time,"

Onuoha said.

"Ruben Dias has made a point of doing everything he can to stop the ball going in his goal.

"Even though you can play diagonal balls, he can play through balls do all that stuff, his success is based on a foundation of making it as hard as possible for the opposition.

"That's been so contagious throughout the City backline. When you have somebody who is on it all the time, you can't help but match that."

A 5-2 loss at the hands of Leicester City last September just after his arrival indicates that a quite different season might have occurred without City signing their prized asset Dias from Benfica.

"I think they would still have found a way to be more competitive than they were at the start of the season, but they were in mid-table. They weren't part of the title conversation until we got towards the end of 2020,"

Onuoha added.

"In that moment, if you don't have a strong defence, or strong leaders who were capable of like trying to catch up then they would have struggled and would have had a disappointing season.

"City found ultimate consistency and it was based around a sort of toughness – we have to win this.

"It wasn't because they were beating teams 10-0. They could there could beat a team 4-0 or could grind out a 1-0. Ultimately, that type of stuff falls back on mentality. When you bring in a mentality like Ruben Dias, then it fits perfectly."


source: SportMob