Done Deal: Manuel Akanji joins Manchester City

Done Deal: Manuel Akanji joins Manchester City

Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji has officially completed his deadline day move to Premier League champions Manchester City.

The 27-year-old has signed a five-year deal at the Etihad Stadium, after the clubs agreed a reported fee of €17.5m.

Akanji had spent over four years at Signal Iduna Park but expressed his desire to let his contract expire earlier this year.

“The last few weeks have not been an easy time for him and yet Manuel has consistently conducted himself in a professional manner.

“We would like to thank Manu for a successful time in Black & Yellow and wish him all the very best with his family and every success with his new employers,” Dortmund Sporting Director Sebastian Kehl told the club’s official website.

Having previously been linked with clubs such as Inter Milan, the 41-time Switzerland international has finally found his move, with reports of this move having only emerged days ago.

Akanji has followed his former BVB teammate Erling Haaland to Manchester, and will wear the number 25 shirt for Pep Guardiola’s side – last occupied by club legend Fernandinho, who departed this summer.

Edin Terzic has already secured the services of his replacements at centre-back, with the arrivals of Niklas Süle on a free transfer from Bayern Munich, and the highly-rated Nico Schlotterbeck from Freiburg.

The former Basel man also spoke to the club’s website: “I would especially like to say a heartfelt thank-you to the Borussia Dortmund fans and my team-mates for their support over the past years.

“I’ve enjoyed playing in front of the Yellow Wall and will always be happy to come back.”

Borussia Dortmund face Manchester City in the group stages of the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League. The first meeting takes place in two weeks at the Etihad Stadium on 14 September.

The rise of a Swiss star

Born in the canton of Zürich to a Nigerian father, the centre-back came through the ranks at his local club Winterthur, breaking through in the 2014-15 second division season at 19 years old.

His form there saw him earn a transfer to Swiss giants FC Basel before his 20th birthday.

Akanji enjoyed a promising debut campaign at St Jakob-Park, making several starts in the Swiss Super League and making his full European debut in the UEFA Europa League.

However, a cruciate ligament injury brought his season to an abrupt end in March, though he did still end the term as a Swiss champion.

The following February saw the ‘human calculator’ return.

Akanji soon nailed down his starting position once again, as he helped the ‘Rotblau’ win a league and cup double.

In the summer that followed, his performances earned international recognition, as he made his senior international debut in a World Cup qualification win over the Faroe Islands.

Now 22 years old, the six foot one ball-playing defender was only getting better and his stocks were rising exponentially.

Akanji started every single game in the first half of the 2017/18 season, except for one cup match, seeing out every single minute in Basel’s Champions League group stage campaign, which they successfully navigated to reach the knockout stages.

A modern defender with his best years still far away, some of Europe’s biggest clubs were beginning to take notice.

Liverpool were most persistent in their attempts to bring Akanji to England, but he was in favour of a move closer to home.

Despite reports in late 2017 that Borussia Dortmund had walked away after Basel increased their asking price, a deal was completed in mid-January 2018 to bring him to Germany for €21.5m.

Manuel Akanji was black and yellow.

‘I had a wonderful time in Dortmund that I’ll never forget’

It didn’t take long for BVB’s new number 16 to become a regular in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Akanji made his debut for the club just weeks after signing, coming off the bench against Köln, before making his full debut a week later against Hamburg.

Following his first few months under Peter Stöger, he then played every minute for Switzerland at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as he was starting to establish himself at football’s highest level.

Manuel Akanji, Switzerland

In the following September Akanji scored his first goal for the club in a 7-0 win over Nürnberg, a strong start to his first full campaign.

After later recovering from a hip problem, his importance to the team was evident as he started each of Dortmund’s final 12 games of the 2018-19 Bundesliga season and even captained the side on occasion.

With his career in the ascendency, Akanji helped Switzerland to an impressive fourth place finish in the UEFA Nations League, before seeing his first taste of silverware in Germany, in a 2019 Supercup win over Bayern Munich.

Despite winning some more the following year, a season that saw BVB win the DFB-Pokal and reach the Champions League quarter-finals, their defence was becoming leaky and Akanji came under considerable criticism.

Manuel Akanji challenges Christopher Nkunku in Borussia Dortmund vs RB Leipzig

More injury issues followed last season, yet he remained a regular when fit. Still, those defensive issues didn’t go away, leading the former Winterthur man to seek a new challenge.

Manuel Akanji leaves Borussia Dortmund after four and a half years, with 158 appearances to his name. A well-respected servant of this historic club, now was probably the time to part ways.

The right move?

Manuel Akanji has given years of admirable service to Borussia Dortmund.

His physicality, pace, strength and ball-playing abilities are traits of a top, modern defender; those traits certainly suit Pep Guardiola’s possession-based style and high defensive line.

Losing players on the cheap when they have a year left on their contract is never ideal, and though his stocks were arguably declining, €17.5m seems very cheap for a player of his quality.

For Akanji, moving to one of the best leagues in the world, to a team which suits his style, is a good move for him.

He can test and develop his abilities, compete and learn from some of the best defenders in European football.

Although Dortmund have already brought in two very capable defenders, in Süle and Schlotterbeck, they are only left with an ageing Mats Hummels, youth team players and possibly Emre Can for depth in that area.

With that, this isn’t the best deal for BVB, especially considering how late in the window it has gone through.

However, Schlotterbeck and Süle have the potential to be one of the Bundesliga’s best defensive pairings for years to come.

It’s also important to freshen up the squad, especially after a couple of years of underperforming and there would be no use in keeping a player who doesn’t want to be there.

Haaland was the club’s only other major outgoing for a fee this summer, so that €17.5m will help fund the many signings who came in, such as Salih Özcan and Anthony Modeste, and any other future signings.

Man City get a good player to add to their depth, Akanji gets the move he wanted, and Dortmund get some money and now look to the future.

Overall, this is a net-positive deal for both Dortmund and all other parties.

Manchester City – Borussia Dortmund Connections

  • Manuel Akanji
  • Erling Haaland
  • Ilkay Gundogan
  • Sergio Gomez
  • Claudio Reyna/Giovanni Reyna
  • Jadon Sancho
  • Jamie Bynoe-Gittens
  • Jayden Braaf