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Ederson's secret weapon could revolutionise Man City's attack

10:15 BST 08/06/2017
Ederson Benfica
The Brazilian goalkeeper has completed his summer move to the Etihad Stadium and his party piece will become a regular sight in the Premier League


Ederson has been officially confirmed as Manchester City's second signing of the transfer window, with Pep Guardiola looking to once again revolutionise his team by signing a goalkeeper of rare talent.

Claudio Bravo's arrival last summer did help to implement some basic tenets of the Guardiola system but some significant flaws have led Guardiola to look elsewhere, and he may just have found the perfect candidate.

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Ederson's arrival was held up by third party ownership issues but make no mistake, City acted swiftly to bring in the Brazilian. They have had no qualms paying £35 million for a 23-year-old, as they believe he has all the attributes to become one of the best in the world and, more importantly, the perfect Guardiola keeper.

Not only does Ederson boast a fine range of passing, which can rival Bravo's assured footwork, he also has an incredible goal kick in his locker which could make direct contributions to City's attack, and perhaps revolutionise, in a certain sense, the way the Blues play.

In one of his final games for the club, against Vitoria Guimaraes in May, the keeper showed off the kind of party trick which could become City's secret weapon next season, and will surely become a regular occurence in the Premier League.

His massive goal kicks have become commonplace during his time in Portugal and, against Vitoria with the league title on the line, the Brazilian finally managed an assist - from his own six-yard box.

With Ederson between the sticks, Benfica’s strikers know more than most that you cannot be offside from a goal kick, and when the opportunity presents itself they charge forward, paying no attention to the last defender, and wait for the 23-year-old to pick them out.

The keeper has one of the longest kicks world football - he once scored from his own box in his youth career - and on this occasion he launched the ball the best part of 100 metres without it touching the ground. After leaving his boot on Benfica’s six-yard line, it did not hit the turf again until it dropped inches outside Vitoria’s 18-yard-box. Raul Jimenez ran onto it, flicked it past the goalkeeper and headed it into the net.

Ederson produces these huge kicks regularly but this was the first time it resulted in an assist, and it is a tactic Guardiola is sure to exploit in the years to come.

Guardiola instructed Sergio Aguero to take up ‘offside’ positions at goal kicks at times last season and with a goalkeeper capable of finding the Argentine - or his even faster team-mates - City could really be onto something.

The mere threat of it would allow City much more space to play their game - if the Blues' centre-backs come short and the pacy attackers run 20 yards beyond the halfway line, who do the opposition pick up, and how do they do it?

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Yet there is more to Ederson’s game than a freakishly long pass. His overall distribution - it will come as no surprise - has caught the eye of City’s scouts. Whether it be his direct passes into opposition territory, his ability to start attacks quickly with direct throws, or a willingness to receive back-passes in tight spots, he has exactly what Guardiola is looking for.

But those traits will not necessarily excite City fans, or those who doubt Guardiola can be successful in England. After all, Bravo shares many of those attributes, and the Chilean is now facing up to life as a back-up goalkeeper, perhaps even a mentor, to a young man more than 10 years his junior following an extremely testing first season at City.

What Guardiola and the City fans alike will want to know is whether Ederson can keep the ball out of the net. Guardiola may have defended Bravo to the hilt this season, but he has hinted at his frustration at times: “I like goalkeeper to save the goals. When the ball comes… save it.”

Ederson put in a number of eye-catching performances last term, most notably in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund, when he kept out a penalty and made another five impressive saves. “Goalkeepers are there to defend and save the team when circumstances require it,” said Jose Mourinho, another big fan. “The kid Ederson did it.”

Yet there is room for improvement. There have been a fair few moments that would raise plenty of eyebrows were he to repeat them in England. Another one of the Brazilian’s strengths is that he is incredibly quick off his line, and he is almost always on hand to mop up any danger when opposition teams get in behind. He has been caught out a couple of times, however; he has been known to race out and leave himself stranded, while untimely slips have allowed strikers to get the better of him.

There is also a tendency to go to ground early when faced with one-on-ones, allowing strikers a relatively simple finish. City fans will be no stranger to that, of course. In his final game for Benfica, in the Taca de Portugal final, he was caught under a cross for Vitoria's goal.

But City’s scouting and coaching staff believe he is exactly what they need. Director of football Txiki Begiristain had been working on a deal for months, with the keeper identified as one of five priority targets.

He has become a firm favourite during his time at the Estadio da Luz and his performances in the league and in Europe have ensured he is now recognised as one of the most promising keepers in Europe, but next season he will embark on a new adventure, one which unexpectedly proved too much for Bravo, a veteran of Copa America finals and league titles with Barcelona.

Bravo's struggles go to show there are no guarantees when it comes to these things, but Guardiola is convinced he has found the perfect man for the job. If Ederson can contribute to City’s build-up play and keep the ball out of the net, the City boss will be proven right. Any assists would be a bonus.