x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Captain-elect Kompany will be even better, says Mancini

The Manchester City manager believes the Belgian centre-half can become the No 1 in world and expects him improve next season.

Vincent Kompany, front, has shown great maturity.
Vincent Kompany, front, has shown great maturity.

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, believes Vincent Kompany is going to get even better next season.

The centre-half, 25, has emerged as one of City's top performers this term, bringing much-needed stability to the back four during a season when they finally ended their 35-year wait for a trophy.

With Carlos Tevez's future uncertain and Kolo Toure waiting for his hearing into a failed drugs test to take place, Kompany is viewed by many as City's captain-elect.

Certainly, the Belgian has showed great maturity this year, with far more expected next term, when he gets a chance to test himself against the greatest attacking players on the planet in the Champions League. And Mancini is confident Kompany will pass the test.

"Vincent can become number one in the world," said the Italian.

"He has always played at a high level. When he was at Anderlecht and I was at Inter [Milan], I wanted to buy him.

"He was a good player then. He has improved a lot and now is one of the top defenders in Europe. But he can improve even more."

Had Mancini managed to lure Kompany away from his homeland to Italy, it is quite possible he would never have ended up at City. The Abu Dhabi-owned club can thank their good fortune for that.

Kompany sets the standards with his professionalism on the training ground, as well as being able to implement the philosophy Mancini holds so dear.

"If we have good defenders and improve the way we defend, it will be easier for us," he said. "Vincent is incredible. He has a fantastic mentality. His attitude has been excellent. Without doubt he has been one of our top players this year."

Although the true excitement of 'Survival Sunday' is going on elsewhere, City's short trip to Bolton Wanderers today is hardly meaningless. Victory will ensure Mancini's men finish in third spot, their highest position since they were runners-up to Liverpool in 1977.

Far more importantly, it would mean they qualify automatically into the group stage of the Champions League rather than find themselves in a qualifier.

Just two European campaigns in the last five years mean that almost certainly, City would not be seeded if they were in the qualifying round, and the presence of Bayern Munich and Villarreal already among the teams who will be emphasises why a win at the Reebok is so keenly demanded.

"This game is very important," said Mancini. "If we can do a normal pre-season and can prepare properly before the Community Shield and start of the Premier League, everything is fine.

"But if we also have qualifying games, it is different for us."