Ruben Dias had no time to recuperate after playing practically every minute of Manchester City's season as they came within three goals of a quadruple. After World Cup duty with Portugal, the star centre-back returned to play in a pre-season friendly against Preston before the end of July. After establishing himself as an indisputable member of the City team after arriving from Benfica for a club-record deal in September 2020, the £64million man declared in the summer that his success would not be fleeting. That was unquestionably followed up on.
Dias has already committed his future to the club by signing a new contract, has been promoted to the leadership group by his teammates, and has been utilized by Pep Guardiola in all of City's key games. However, there have been indications that the management was preserving him more than he was. Dias was even played in the FA Cup last season against Championship side Birmingham and League Two opponents Cheltenham Town, but he has already missed a Premier League game this season. With rests in the Carabao Cup and Champions League, the centre-back has already missed more minutes this season than he did in the previous one's opening 31 games.
Ruben Dias in talks over new contract"/>
Dias, who has been rested rather than injured or demoted, can still count on his name being on the teamsheet for the most important games. It does, however, improve Aymeric Laporte's and John Stones' prospects of being content in their current roles. Last season, Laporte found it very hard to reclaim his starting spot after losing it to Stones in November. Dias started every game, therefore the shirt was his to retain as long as Stones performed well beside him (which he did).
The opposite was true at the start of this season, with Stones having to wait until the 11th game to make his debut. That came alongside Laporte against Burnley, and their partnership for the home game against Club Brugge means they've already played together in center defense more times this season than they did last season - although one of those games was forced due to Dias' injury.
Even if Dias is still regarded as the club's best defender, Stones and Laporte will have more opportunity to enter the squad and demonstrate their abilities as a result of the increasing priority to look after his minutes. There's a case to be made for starting your best two centre-backs every game — something City did with great success last season — but having three world-class defenders to choose from is a more doable plan when pursuing three trophies. As a result, seeing less of Dias this season may be a good thing.
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