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Pep Guardiola questions positional flexibility of ‘exceptional’ Manchester City star



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has called into question the positional flexibility of Jeremy Doku, despite another praise-worthy performance.

The former Stade Rennais star was a threat all afternoon for Manchester City, largely operating from the left-hand side of the line-up’s attacking three, ultimately forcing an early withdrawal for James Milner at the half-time interval.

It was Jeremy Doku’s fine work down the left that forced the issue for Manchester City’s opening goal of the game, after the youngster dragged the ball to the by-line before cutting it back for Julian Alvarez, who was on hand to slice home.

Speaking after the victory at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Pep Guardiola was keen to praise Jeremy Doku following a stand-out performance from the Belgian, labelling his summer recruit as an “exceptional” forward.

“I am really pleased for his impact since he came into us,” Guardiola said. “After the West Ham game he didn’t play one or two (games) because of doubts he has to play game, game, game and he is not used to it. He is an exceptional winger.”

Guardiola continued, “Jeremy is so smart in defensive areas and after, he has the quality. He got to the byline and got us the first goal and there were many actions. It’s the start of many years for him in this house.”

Despite the high praise for his individual abilities, Pep Guardiola admitted that Doku is somewhat restricted positionally, with the 21-year-old currently unable to operate on one side of Manchester City’s attacking three, in the opinion of the Catalan coach.

“Jeremy can play on the right perfectly. Left he is not used to,” the City boss added. “Years ago, it was left player on left and right on right side. Now it’s difficult to find. Jack (Grealish) is more controlled. He doesn’t have the one-v-one speed.

“Today I doubt a lot the line-up because the game would have more transitions. They are man to man and aggressive so we will lose more than usual to make more transition. I thought Phil (Foden) and Jeremy with their pace could help us.

“I thought a lot that Mateo (Kovacic) and Matheus (Nunes) could help us but Bernardo (Silva) with the way we want to press is so important.”

Jeremy Doku is only expected to go from strength to strength under Pep Guardiola, and the player himself has admitted that he has plenty of work to do after joining Manchester City which will only benefit the reigning Treble winners.

City next travel to Bern in Switzerland as they hope to make it three wins from three in the UEFA Champions League, taking on BSC Young Boys in the group stage of the competition at the Wankdorf Stadium.

The clash with the Swiss outfit is a double-header in the group stage, with Young Boys making the trip to Manchester early next month on matchday four, before City take on RB Leipzig at home and Crvena zvezda in Serbia.