On this day exactly a year ago, the blue side of Manchester brought in Wilfried Bony from Swansea for a price tag of £25 million — making the Ivorian the most expensive African transfer of all time. No pressure, right?
Having finished 2014 as the top scorer of the Premier League in the calendar year, big things were expected from Bony at Manchester City. The striker was not expected to be as good or influential as his teammate Sergio Aguero of course, but he was expected to be a positive asset for the club at least.
Quite frankly, that’s not been the case. Having scored only eight goals in 34 appearances for the Citizens, Bony’s record in the past year has been nothing special for the Ivorian, especially considering his goalscoring record throughout his career. That being said, no one really thought his form for his new team would differ so much from his form at Swansea — so much that the Welsh club were recently linked with buying him again.
— The Sun – Football (@TheSunFootball) January 10, 2016
Manchester City is not a Sunday league team. Boasting a strong, creative midfield of David Silva, Yaya Toure and more, Manuel Pellegrini also brought in Wolfsburg star Kevin De Bruyne, and Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling to bolster their attack. Simply put, there is no lack of chances created, unlike a certain team in the other half of Manchester.
Keeping this in mind, let us have a look at Bony’s stats for this season — the striker has been involved in 11 goals in 21 appearances (eight goals and three assists) in all competitions, while taking three shots per game.
On the face of it, this may not look bad at all. However, all six of his league goals came at home against sides City were expected to beat such as Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Sunderland and a struggling Swansea for example.
Along with this, the ex-Swansea man has created a mere 15 chances, averaging 0.8 key passes per game, and has an unflattering record of only 0.5 dribbles per appearance, alongside a conversion rate of 9.4% as compared to his record 14.4% at Swansea. Making only 16 passes per game, Bony has also been dispossessed off the ball more than one time each appearance, which does not make his case better seeing how little the forward takes on defenders.
Playing in the heart of a flamboyant and deadly attack that City have at their disposal, and yet, creating less number of chances per 90 mins than fullback Aleksander Kolarov is something that is just not acceptable. A team that is expected to challenge for the title each season must have a front line that delivers. One must not forget the continuous injuries that Aguero faces, or the fact that the Argentinian himself has not had the best of seasons so far. Apart from these two, the only other striker available with City is their 19 year old academy player Kelechi Iheanacho — a player too young and inexperienced to be given the weight of leading their front line.
This is of course not to say that Bony hasn’t had his own brief moments in the light blue jersey. The 3-1 away win at Sevilla in the Champions League for example, was a glimpse of how talented the Ivorian really is. Not to mention that being a stand-in to any player is not an easy thing to do. It cannot be demanded from a player to be consistently a threat from the bench — to be at one’s best whenever called upon as a substitute is something only a few players have managed to pull off in their career.
Bony just needs to be more efficient and consistent, cut a more reliable figure in the squad, and not just be a mere shadow of his previous self. City will not keep the African with them for long if he doesn’t revert to the clinical goalscorer they thought they had bought a year ago. And in all fairness, no one can blame them.
Completely discarding the African would be foolish — a little faith goes a long way. But for a team like City, who are hoping to win the league each season and achieve something of importance in Europe, being extremely patient is a luxury they cannot afford. Shipping off Aguero is not an option with the Argentinian being their talisman and one of the best strikers in the world. Iheanacho is but a child in comparison, one who could be a brilliant player if handled correctly.
That leaves Bony, a player who netted 34 times in 70 appearances for Swansea, but has failed to impress so far at the Etihad. City might just need to start looking at better options soon, and the clock may be ticking for the 27 year old, who simply must find his feet. If he is shipped off however, there will be certainly be no shortage of suitors for the Ivorian.