Vincent Kompany called time on his playing career on Monday as he took on the head coach role at Anderlecht on a full-time basis.

While his time in Belgium has so far been fraught with changes and setbacks, the 33-year-old spent 11 hugely successful years at Manchester City before returning to his home country.

Kompany joined the Premier League club in 2008, becoming a key figure as City transformed from also-rans to serial trophy winners.

While the Champions League remained out of Kompany's grasp, he counts four league titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups among his honours.

Using Opta facts, we take a look at the key numbers from Kompany's time at City.

10 - Since Kompany's arrival in 2008, no Premier League team has won more than the 10 trophies claimed by City in that time. Of course, 2008 was also the year that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan took over the club.

360 - Kompany made 360 appearances for City across all competitions.

119 - Key for any defender, Kompany helped City keep 119 clean sheets during his time in Manchester. But he also made his presence felt at the other end, scoring 20 goals – including a memorable thunderbolt against Leicester City.

265 - With 265 Premier League appearances, Kompany is third behind David Silva and Joe Hart in terms of outings in the competition for City.

1 - Kompany tops the list of appearances made by Belgian players in the Premier League, ahead of the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.

94 - Only Chelsea great John Terry, with 101, has kept more clean sheets in the Premier League than Kompany.

167 - With Kompany in the side, City won 167 out of 265 Premier League games – a win percentage of 63 that falls slightly to 62.5 per cent without him in the side (95 wins out of 152).

3,330 - Kompany played in excess of 3,000 league minutes in 2010-11 under Roberto Mancini, starting all but one of City's 38 top-flight matches. His lowest total of minutes came in 2016-17, Pep Guardiola's first campaign at the helm, when he managed just 823 across 11 appearances.

17 - In what proved to be his final campaign at the club, Kompany made 17 league appearances, starting on 13 occasions.

Vincent Kompany has retired from playing football at the age of 34 and has been named as Anderlecht's full-time head coach.

The Belgium great was named as player-coach in May 2019 after leaving Manchester City but relinquished his managerial duties on matchdays in August after taking just two points from the club's opening four matches – their worst start in 21 years.

Simon Davies was officially placed in charge of tactical decisions and substitutions but later reverted back to assistant, with Franky Vercauteren appointed for a third spell, while Kompany remained the nominal boss.

Reports suggest Kompany, who has agreed a four-year deal at the helm, endured a fraught relationship with Vercauteren and the club confirmed the latter has now left the club.

"Vincent becomes the head coach of RSC Anderlecht. And that for the next 4 seasons," read a tweet from Anderlecht.

"He stops his playing career and takes over from Franky."

Kompany ended an 11-year association with City after captaining the club to an unprecedented domestic treble in the 2018-19 campaign.

Anderlecht finished eighth in a 2019-20 season ended early by the coronavirus pandemic and have taken four points from the opening two games of the new term.

Manchester City were merely reigning Premier League champions from around the turn of the year. Any meaningful title defence ended a long time ago.

After amassing an astounding 198 points over the course of consecutive championship-winning campaigns, Pep Guardiola's men were unable to summon an adequate response in the face of Liverpool's relentless onslaught.

City's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week completed the formalities, meaning Guardiola's plans over how to wrest back control should already be well underway.

Ahead of Liverpool's trip to City on Thursday, we look at the areas where he and the Etihad Stadium's brain trust should be focusing their attention.

 

ADDRESS OBVIOUS GAPS IN THE SQUAD

Guardiola's suggestion at the end of last week that he might not seek a like-for-like replacement for Leroy Sane if the Germany winger completes his long-mooted switch to Bayern Munich understandably caused consternation among City fans. Vincent Kompany's influence and aura were irreplaceable when he called time on his career in Manchester in May 2019, but a new centre-back would certainly have come in handy.

The cruciate knee ligament injury that decimated Aymeric Laporte's campaign left Fernandinho simultaneously learning a new position and standing in as City's most reliable option in central defence, as Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones laboured. A high-quality partner for Laporte must be the number one transfer market priority.

A natural left-winger is also needed. Sane has been another long-term injury victim this term and, without that option, City's attacks have sometimes become narrow and predictable. On the subject of cruciate knee ligament injuries, Benjamin Mendy looks to have put a nightmarish two years behind him, although he endured a game to forget against Chelsea. It would be foolish to count on the France international's fitness holding for long and links to England left-back Ben Chilwell are understandable.

RECHARGE AND REPLENISH STAR MEN

The three positions above are likely to be the limit of City's ambitions in an uncertain market, with the depth of coronavirus' impact upon football finances yet to be fully realised. Whether or not the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport overturns or reduces their two-season Champions League ban must also be factored into any plans.

The good thing for Guardiola is the fact that plenty of room for improvement lies within. Aside from the imperious Kevin De Bruyne and the ever-prolific Sergio Aguero, it is hard to identify a senior City player who can be wholly satisfied with their efforts this term. Ederson's three errors leading to a goal are second only to Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (five) in the division, while Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have at times appeared burned out following the exertions of a triumphant 2018-19.

UNLEASH PHIL FODEN

David Silva's departure at the end of this season was expected to usher in Phil Foden to blossom as the master's apprentice. This has been muddied slightly by the England Under-21 star's best performances coming in a wide attacking role, most notably his man-of-the-match outing in the EFL Cup final and his two-goal showing in the recent 5-0 demolition of Burnley. He was badly missed at Chelsea.

Guardiola loves players who are adept in a number of roles and Foden has thrived regardless of what his brief is on any given stage. The academy product has long looked a player at home in this City team; he now seems like one who could significantly elevate it. It is time to let him fly.

REMAIN BANNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

From having to scale down more ambitious transfer targets to tackling some awkward conversations with star players over their immediate futures, the seismic blow of City's exclusion from the Champions League holding firm should not be underplayed. However, if we are looking at this purely in terms of their chances of winning a third Premier League title in four seasons, a coach of Guardiola's calibre getting free midweeks to hone his side to his version of perfection is something of which Liverpool and others would be right to be wary.

DON'T ACTUALLY CHANGE TOO MUCH

Under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, City compiled deplorably meek title defences. The clear daylight between themselves and Liverpool this time around makes it tempting to lump their 2019-20 efforts in with those other failures. But there is an important wider context. The Manchester United and Chelsea sides that unseated Mancini and Pellegrini were not a patch on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool machine. This City had won six of the previous seven domestic honours on offer and could conceivably finish 2019-20 with the FA Cup and that elusive Champions League nestled alongside the EFL Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Also, it is not a slight on the Reds' brilliance to note most things that could have fallen in their favour this season have. That is inevitable. City sealed their 100-point season with a last-minute winner at Southampton, having beaten Saints, Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield Town in similar fashion before the turn of the year. Mind-boggling deeds require a certain level of fortune.

Heading into their game at Chelsea, City were still ahead of Liverpool by five points with a game in hand in Opta's Expected Goals league table (Yes, yes… when's the parade?!?!). Liverpool's brutally clinical efforts are to be admired, but the underlying numbers suggest such a gulf will not become the norm.

Manchester City were merely reigning Premier League champions from around the turn of the year. Any meaningful title defence ended a long time ago.

After amassing an astounding 198 points over the course of consecutive championship-winning campaigns, Pep Guardiola's men were unable to summon an adequate response in the face of Liverpool's relentless onslaught.

City's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge completed the formalities, meaning Guardiola's plans over how to wrest back control should already be well underway.

Here, we look at the areas where he and the Etihad Stadium's brain trust should be focusing their attention.

 

ADDRESS OBVIOUS GAPS IN THE SQUAD

Guardiola's suggestion at the end of last week that he might not seek a like-for-like replacement for Leroy Sane if the Germany winger completes his long-mooted switch to Bayern Munich understandably caused consternation among City fans. Vincent Kompany's influence and aura were irreplaceable when he called time on his career in Manchester in May 2019, but a new centre-back would certainly have come in handy.

The cruciate knee ligament injury that decimated Aymeric Laporte's campaign left Fernandinho simultaneously learning a new position and standing in as City's most reliable option in central defence, as Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones laboured. A high-quality partner for Laporte must be the number one transfer market priority.

A natural left-winger is also needed. Sane has been another long-term injury victim this term and, without that option, City's attacks have sometimes become narrow and predictable. On the subject of cruciate knee ligament injuries, Benjamin Mendy looks to have put a nightmarish two years behind him, although he endured a game to forget against Chelsea. It would be foolish to count on the France international's fitness holding for long and links to England left-back Ben Chilwell are understandable.

RECHARGE AND REPLENISH STAR MEN

The three positions above are likely to be the limit of City's ambitions in an uncertain market, with the depth of coronavirus' impact upon football finances yet to be fully realised. Whether or not the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport overturns or reduces their two-season Champions League ban must also be factored into any plans.

The good thing for Guardiola is the fact that plenty of room for improvement lies within. Aside from the imperious Kevin De Bruyne and the ever-prolific Sergio Aguero, it is hard to identify a senior City player who can be wholly satisfied with their efforts this term. Ederson's three errors leading to a goal are second only to Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (five) in the division, while Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have at times appeared burned out following the exertions of a triumphant 2018-19.

UNLEASH PHIL FODEN

David Silva's departure at the end of this season was expected to usher in Phil Foden to blossom as the master's apprentice. This has been muddied slightly by the England Under-21 star's best performances coming in a wide attacking role, most notably his man-of-the-match outing in the EFL Cup final and his two-goal showing in the recent 5-0 demolition of Burnley. He was badly missed at Chelsea.

Guardiola loves players who are adept in a number of roles and Foden has thrived regardless of what his brief is on any given stage. The academy product has long looked a player at home in this City team; he now seems like one who could significantly elevate it. It is time to let him fly.

REMAIN BANNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

From having to scale down more ambitious transfer targets to tackling some awkward conversations with star players over their immediate futures, the seismic blow of City's exclusion from the Champions League holding firm should not be underplayed. However, if we are looking at this purely in terms of their chances of winning a third Premier League title in four seasons, a coach of Guardiola's calibre getting free midweeks to hone his side to his version of perfection is something of which Liverpool and others would be right to be wary.

DON'T ACTUALLY CHANGE TOO MUCH

Under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, City compiled deplorably meek title defences. The clear daylight between themselves and Liverpool this time around makes it tempting to lump their 2019-20 efforts in with those other failures. But there is an important wider context. The Manchester United and Chelsea sides that unseated Mancini and Pellegrini were not a patch on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool machine. This City had won six of the previous seven domestic honours on offer and could conceivably finish 2019-20 with the FA Cup and that elusive Champions League nestled alongside the EFL Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Also, it is not a slight on the Reds' brilliance to note most things that could have fallen in their favour this season have. That is inevitable. City sealed their 100-point season with a last-minute winner at Southampton, having beaten Saints, Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield Town in similar fashion before the turn of the year. Mind-boggling deeds require a certain level of fortune.

Heading into their game at Chelsea, City were still ahead of Liverpool by five points with a game in hand in Opta's Expected Goals league table (Yes, yes… when's the parade?!?!). Liverpool's brutally clinical efforts are to be admired, but the underlying numbers suggest such a gulf will not become the norm.

Vincent Kompany admitted Manchester United "threw away" the 2011-12 Premier League title, adding the triumph provided Manchester City with "absolute confidence" for the future.

Eight years ago this week City pipped United to win their first top-flight championship in 44 years on goal difference thanks to Sergio Aguero's 94th-minute winner against QPR.

City have gone on to lift a further three titles, clinching the trophy on the final day in 2013-14 and 2018-19, when they managed to hold Liverpool off on both occasions.

Kompany, now player-manager with Anderlecht, feels getting over the line first time around was pivotal when it came to delivering further success.

"I think so, I'm pretty sure," the ex-City captain told Match of the Day.

"If you just take the way that I felt we were able to stay calm when we went for the second title against Liverpool and the last one that we won again on the wire with Liverpool, I think there was always a core of players who went through this.

"To me, anyway, my mindset, it gave me absolute confidence that I just needed to stay calm, to get the team to understand what the process was. It helped massively."

Though both of those title races went down to the wire, neither could match the tension and drama of City's first Premier League success.

United had been eight points clear with six games to play but were reeled in by City.

Even so, when their match against Sunderland finished, United were on course to be crowned champions until Aguero's late goal.

"The image that stays with me is the image of confusion over there, it's very vivid in my mind," Kompany added.

"It's special to do it over Man United, as you see the rivalry.

"That season really, as much as over the course of the season we were the better team, in reality, United threw it away.

"We were not consistent. We were fantastic in moments and then we had moments where we had inexplicable losses and situations during the season.

"It wasn't a calm season for us and you think with [Alex] Ferguson, Rio Ferdinand at the back, [Nemanja] Vidic, [Edwin] Van Der Sar, [Patrice] Evra, Gary Neville, it was a great team - and yet they gave it away.

"We did something amazing. Whenever we had the chance with our team, we were capable of winning eight, nine, 10 in a row and then things would explode, there would be a training ground fight and then we'd be winning 10 more and then losing. It was a bit 'the old City' at the time.

"But we had momentum right at the end and that was the most important."

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk is the best ever Premier League centre-back, according to Vincent Kompany.

Van Dijk, 28, has starred since his move from Southampton to Liverpool, for a reported £75million, in January 2018.

The Netherlands international finished second to Lionel Messi for the Ballon d'Or last year, having helped Liverpool win the Champions League.

Manchester City great Kompany, now the Anderlecht player-manager, believes Van Dijk is the best centre-back in Premier League history.

"I would bring it back to Virgil van Dijk," he told SPORF.

"It's a weird one because he hasn't been on the scene for as long as these names we mentioned – John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, these guys were there for a long, long time.

"But the signs he showed in his last few years, just makes it so obvious that if he would've been at the top, top level before that he would've been already further as well.

"From what I've seen in terms of having an impact on a team and a defender is never about himself, it's about his communication with other guys and how you make your team more solid.

"The Liverpool before Van Dijk and the one after him, it's a completely different setup and I'll give him that one because of that."

Liverpool held a 25-point lead atop the Premier League table when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Manchester City will reflect fondly on the date of April 30.

It was on this day eight years ago that victory in the Manchester derby saw them scale the Premier League's summit.

The same date holds less happy memories for Tiger Woods, however.

And it will forever be etched into the mind of Monica Seles for all the wrong reasons.

 

2012 – Kompany heads City to the summit in derby triumph

Vincent Kompany's header in first-half stoppage time sealed a 1-0 victory for Manchester City over bitter rivals United on this day in 2012.

It was a crucial effort from the captain, taking his side back to the top of the table on goal difference with two games remaining.

Just three weeks earlier Roberto Mancini's side had fallen eight points behind United.

City went on to win the Premier League title for the first time with a last-gasp final-day win over QPR.

1993 – Shock as Seles is stabbed on court

It was 27 years ago that tennis star Seles was the victim of a shocking on-court attack during a match in Hamburg.

Facing Magdalena Maleeva, Seles was in a break between games when a crazed fan of her rival Steffi Graf ran onto the court and stabbed her between the shoulder blades.

The injuries and psychological damage were significant, with Seles out of action for two years.

She had eight grand slams to her name at the time of the incident and went on to win one more, with victory at the 1996 Australian Open.

2010 – Rare missed cut for Woods

Prior to his injury problems and personal issues, missed cuts were incredibly rare for Woods.

On this day in 2010 he suffered such a fate for just the sixth time in his professional career, carding a seven-over 43 on the back nine at Quail Hollow to finish with 79.

Having shot a first-round 74, his two-day total of 153 was his worst.

Attempting to put a positive spin on things, Woods said: "Well, I got the weekend off."

Samir Nasri has refuted reports he has not been keeping in contact with Anderlecht's hierarchy during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pro League in early April suggested the 2019-20 season be cancelled and a meeting to determine its fate is due to be held on Friday.

Anderlecht last played on March 7, defeating Zulte-Waregem 7-0 at home, though Nasri did not feature in the matchday squad.

Nasri has been at the centre of media rumours this week, however, after reports in Belgian publication Derniere Heure claimed the former Manchester City and Arsenal playmaker had not been in regular contact with player-manager Vincent Kompany.

But Nasri has dismissed the rumours, insisting he has been keeping in touch with Anderlecht.

"It makes no sense," Nasri said during in a live interview on Instagram.

"Where did you see someone disappear? Because that is what I thought I saw or heard said: someone who has disappeared or no longer gives any sign of life. 

"I speak to the chief medical officer every day. He is the one who sends me the sessions I have to do. I also speak with Vincent Kompany."

Nasri joined up with former City team-mate Kompany at Anderlecht in 2019 but has failed to revive his career in Belgium, having made just eight appearances in all competitions.

Samir Nasri has refuted reports he has not been keeping in contact with Anderlecht's hierarchy during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pro League in early April suggested the 2019-20 season be cancelled and a meeting to determine its fate is due to be held on Friday.

Anderlecht last played on March 7, defeating Zulte-Waregem 7-0 at home, though Nasri did not feature in the matchday squad.

Nasri has been at the centre of media rumours this week, however, after reports in Belgian publication Derniere Heure claimed the former Manchester City and Arsenal playmaker had not been in regular contact with player-manager Vincent Kompany.

But Nasri has dismissed the rumours, insisting he has been keeping in touch with Anderlecht.

"It makes no sense," Nasri said during in a live interview on Instagram.

"Where did you see someone disappear? Because that is what I thought I saw or heard said: someone who has disappeared or no longer gives any sign of life. 

"I speak to the chief medical officer every day. He is the one who sends me the sessions I have to do. I also speak with Vincent Kompany."

Nasri joined up with former City team-mate Kompany at Anderlecht in 2019 but has failed to revive his career in Belgium, having made just eight appearances in all competitions.

Vincent Kompany is set to welcome his Anderlecht team back to training on Monday - with the order to maintain social distancing.

Player-boss Kompany has seen his players stay fit at home in recent weeks, with the Anderlecht stars dialling in on Zoom to take part in exercise sessions.

But many first-team footballers are expected back at the Neerpede training ground after Anderlecht decided the time was right to reunite in the same place.

Belgium remains largely locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it was announced on April 2 that a plan was in place to abandon the Pro League season; however, a final decision in that respect has yet to be taken. There is only one round of regular-season games remaining.

In the meantime, Anderlecht have invited players to pull on their training kit and assemble together, while stressing attendance on Monday is voluntary.

Tackling and physical contact is set to be banned in the sessions.

Club spokesman David Steegen said: "Players who do not feel reassured can continue to work at home. But each player present at Neerpede will observe the safety distances and the coaches will direct the exercises while respecting the social distance."

Speaking to Belgian public service broadcaster RTBF, Steegen added: "It will be mainly physical training, but also with a ball.

"All the equipment used will be disinfected, before and after each session. Players will not have access to the dressing room, everyone will change and shower at home."

UEFA questioned Belgium's intention to cancel the rest of its league season, and there will be no final ruling on whether the campaign will resume until late April at the earliest.

Anderlecht have endured a rocky first season since Kompany joined after bringing an end to his illustrious Manchester City career.

They sit eighth in the Pro League, with Club Brugge 15 points clear of closest rivals Gent at the top.

Pep Guardiola is heartened by the progress of Manchester City's youngsters this season but knows there is no guarantee of a golden generation, such as the one he oversaw at Barcelona a decade ago or Manchester United's 'Class of '92'.

England Under-21 midfielder Phil Foden has ticked past 50 career appearances for City and scored his 10th goal for the club in last weekend's 4-1 FA Cup win over Port Vale, when Taylor Harwood-Bellis was also on target for the first time in senior football.

Harwood-Bellis' fellow teenage centre-back Eric Garcia was accomplished as he started the recent home wins over Sheffield United and Everton as part of a back three, while Tommy Doyle – who counts City greats Glyn Pardoe and the late Mike Doyle as his grandfathers – made his full debut against Southampton in the EFL Cup in October.

Footage of Doyle and Harwood-Bellis celebrating City's 3-1 first-leg win over Manchester United in the semi-finals of that competition from the away end at Old Trafford went viral this week.

Guardiola saw and enjoyed the clip but was hesitant when asked to assess the chances of City's breakthrough stars becoming household names – citing the pressures they must navigate to establish themselves at an elite club.

"I don't know. I would like to answer and say 'yes' but I don't know. To figure out if young players will become incredibly top players for the future, I don’t know," he said, speaking ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to Aston Villa.

"This is a club that is so demanding, you have to win games. Sometimes you win four titles and it's not enough

"Four titles last season is not enough; we didn’t win the Champions League. That is the reality.

"Sometimes they compete against incredible central defenders and, for Tommy Doyle, incredible midfielders.

"For Phil Foden, it is an incredible reality. He is an exceptional player and sometimes he doesn't play the minutes he should play because he competes with what happened at Old Trafford. All the midfield players played and they played incredibly well.

"I am a big, big fan who respects the process with the young guys. But we have a tendency in all the countries – here as well – that they make the two games and already they will be the new [Wayne] Rooney or the new George Best or will be the new David Beckham."

As Foden and his contemporaries continue the early steps of their journey at City, greats of the modern era they will hope to emulate are moving on.

David Silva will depart at the end of this season, while Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero's deals expire in June 2021.

Former captain Vincent Kompany bade an emotional farewell after completing last term's unprecedented domestic treble, following the exits of Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta 12 and 24 months earlier respectively.

"We cannot deny how important all these names you name have been for this club," Guardiola said, with Kompany set to be honoured at a Football Writers' Association tribute night in London on Sunday.

"Vinny is unique, Sergio will be unique, David – these type of players are incredible. I think the club, they have the duty and the obligation to find the best replacement for all of them, as quick as possible and anticipate it.

"We have to try and find them or build them from here – it is our obligation as a club."

As he negotiates this changing of the guard at the Etihad, Guardiola again reiterated his belief that Silva's replacement will be a young man built from within.

"David is going to leave this season and we are not going to buy any player in his position because we have Phil," he added.

"Maybe this season Phil will have more minutes, or maybe less. I don't know. We trust Phil.

"If we didn't believe in him we might go to the market to replace David, but we have Phil."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the 2010s in terms of individual awards and moments of pure inspiration.

Future generations will look back on this past decade as a period obsessed with the two generational talents - their often-exaggerated rivalry exacerbated by spending such a long time on opposite sides of the Clasico divide.

But, while Ronaldo and Messi have filled more column inches than any other player on the planet, there are plenty of others who have been world leaders in their respective positions.

Having looked back over the last 10 years, using Opta data for inspiration, we have selected a Team of the Decade. But who makes the cut?

Is David de Gea selected in goal? Does Luis Suarez join Messi in attack? Has Virgil van Dijk done enough for inclusion? Find out below...

OMNISPORT TEAM OF THE DECADE

Manuel Neuer

There is not much more Manuel Neuer could have achieved over the past 10 years. For much of that time he has been one of the globe's most dependable goalkeepers, even if he has shown signs of decline since a spate of foot injuries. A veteran of seven Bundesliga title triumphs and a World Cup winner with Germany, Neuer boasts a save percentage of 74.2 per cent and has comfortably the most clean sheets (139) this decade in the German top flight.

Dani Alves

Has there ever been a better right-back than Dani Alves? The Brazilian stands to leave an impressive legacy, not just through his thrilling style of play, but with his record-breaking trophy haul of 43 after captaining Brazil to Copa America success this year. Despite being a right-back, he claimed 67 assists in league action through the 2010s, though his greatest contribution came in LaLiga with Barcelona, for whom he set up 51 goals. Marcelo (48) is the closest to him, but he has played 77 times more than the current Sao Paulo star.

Vincent Kompany

Although a brilliant player at his best, it is understandable to suggest Vincent Kompany never reached his ceiling due to injuries. Nevertheless, the Belgian will go down as a Premier League great such has been his impact with Manchester City, with whom he enjoyed four title wins. Kompany recorded 83 Premier League clean sheets in the 2010s, just 10 fewer than record-setter Kyle Walker, who has played 57 more matches. His leadership qualities have been missed by City this season.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a player who often polarises opinion, but he's one of only three players to have been at Madrid for the entire decade, so he must be doing something right. An undisputed leader and fierce competitor, Ramos is a big-game player like few others and boasts a goal-scoring record even many midfielders would be happy with, having netted 43 times in LaLiga since the start of 2010, more than any other defender. Over the past 10 years, he's helped Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League titles, while he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Jordi Alba

At his best, Jordi Alba was almost unstoppable. The flying left-back became a staple and key outlet for one of the great Barcelona teams, with his driving runs – on or off the ball – often creating havoc. A master at making a darting run into the box before cutting a pass back to create a chance, Alba has 38 LaLiga assists to his name for Barca, a record bettered by only Dani Alves and Marcelo among defenders. He gets the nod ahead of his Madrid counterpart as his assist haul is from 72 fewer matches.

Luka Modric

The only player to break the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or duopoly, Luka Modric has enjoyed a wonderful decade. A vital part of the Croatia team that enjoyed an historic run to the 2018 World Cup final, Modric also played a big role in Madrid's incredible Champions League domination. Toni Kroos (11,260) is the only midfielder to have completed more passes in LaLiga than Modric (10,759), while he laid on 42 assists and created 522 chances.

N'Golo Kante

If there was an award for the most likeable player of the decade, N'Golo Kante would surely be a frontrunner. Sadly there is no such thing, so he'll have to contend with inclusion in this team. Arguably the key cog in Leicester City's remarkable Premier League title win, Kante followed that up with similarly impressive form at Chelsea and with France, winning the World Cup with Les Bleus last year. He has made 912 tackles and interceptions in the Premier League, putting him fifth among players with 200 appearances or fewer this decade, and each of those who rank higher have played at least 20 matches more.

David Silva

When David Silva leaves Man City at the end of the season, there will inevitably be a debate as to whether he can be regarded the Premier League's greatest 'import'. That this will even be suggested tells you the impact he has had. No one gets close to Silva's record of 89 Premier League assists in the 2010s, with the Spaniard almost certainly the most consistent creator the division has seen in the past 10 years. He was similarly important for Spain until his post-World Cup retirement last year, having previously lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010 and at Euro 2012, eventually accumulating 125 caps.

Lionel Messi

Where does one even begin with Lionel Messi? If any single player has defined the 2010s – from an individual perspective – in world football, it is surely the Barcelona talisman. In LaLiga, Messi has amassed 505 goal involvements (369 goals, 136 assist) in 343 matches since the start of the decade, routinely carrying Barca to victory. He has won every trophy possible with the Blaugrana over the past 10 years and claimed five Ballons d'Or, with his 2019 victory giving him a record-breaking sixth. Although now 32, he remains frighteningly decisive – all that eludes him is international success with Argentina.

Robert Lewandowski

A long list of immense strikers have starred throughout the 2010s, but arguably chief among them – Ronaldo aside – is Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Having moved from Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped turn into Champions League contenders, the Poland international has developed into a remarkable all-round striker. In 307 Bundesliga games he has 221 goals from 1,163 attempts, meaning he scores every 5.2 shots – by contrast, Ronaldo needs 6.4 efforts per goal. Although he is yet to win Europe's elite club competition, there is little doubt the Pole appears to be getting better with age having already notched 19 league goals this term, just three short of his total for 2018-19.

Cristiano Ronaldo

In the somewhat tiresome 'Ronaldo or Messi' debate about which superstar is "better", the former can at least point to his international successes with Portugal as something that sets him apart, having lifted Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League. That is just the tip of the iceberg for his brilliance in the 2010s, however. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 335 league goals and laid on 95 assists. With Los Blancos he helped inspire four Champions League successes, also winning a couple of LaLiga titles. What a privilege it has been to see Ronaldo and Messi in the same era.

Pep Guardiola tried in vain to persuade Vincent Kompany to spend one more season with Manchester City.

Kompany ended an 11-year association with the club by captaining them to an unprecedented domestic treble in England last season.

The 33-year-old Belgium defender netted an unforgettable long-range effort to seal a pivotal 1-0 win over Leicester City in what would prove to be his final competitive appearance at the Etihad Stadium, with Guardiola's men going on to pip Liverpool to the Premier League title by a point.

It has been a different story this time around, with City falling way off the pace set by the Reds.

Their defence has been shaky in the injury absence of Aymeric Laporte and, if Guardiola had his way, Kompany would still be an option for him at centre-back rather than player-manager of Anderlecht.

"I tried to convince Vincent a lot to stay one more year with us," he said ahead of Friday's trip to Wolves.

"When he decided in the last few weeks [of last season], I said, 'No, no, no – you are not going to leave me. No, no, no'. But he leaves me.

"When those guys take a decision it is already taken."

 

Guardiola made reference to Kompany when discussing City's preparations for life after two other long-serving club greats.

David Silva has already announced this season will be his last in Manchester, while Sergio Aguero is out of contract in 2021 and has frequently expressed a desire to end his career back in Argentina with boyhood club Independiente.

Aguero is City's all-time top scorer and famously struck in stoppage time to snatch their first league title for 44 years on the final day of the 2011-12 – a moment atop many of this week's end-of-decade lists.

"I think Sergio is irreplaceable," Guardiola said. "We have an incredible striker in Gabriel [Jesus] and maybe another one will come when Sergio is leaving. But he is irreplaceable.

"The most important moment of this club, more important than hopefully one day when this club wins the Champions League, is when Sergio scores that goal against Queens Park Rangers to win the first Premier League after I don’t know how many years.

"That moment is much better than four titles in one season or whatever. And he was the guy."

Aguero struggled initially to meet Guardiola's demands of his centre-forward after the former Barcelona boss arrived in 2016, but the 31-year-old has arguably hit new career heights in winning his manager's considerable admiration.

"I've never seen a bigger star like him [who is] so humble, a funny guy – it is a joy to work with him," Guardiola said.

"How he accepts sometimes my decisions when it's not worked for him. A big star like him [does not usually] accept that.

"I worked with other stars who believed that they are more stars than Sergio and they were not. And it was more difficult to handle them and to be with them.

"It is not easy to find a guy with his status, his personality, what he has done in his football career, with this humility.

"In the box he is an incredible player. But I was with other guys who were not bad. I remember Ronaldo – the Brazilian guy, I remember Romario, I remember [Samuel] Eto'o. Eto'o was one of the most incredible strikers I'd ever seen in my life. He could do everything.

"Sergio is one of them, of course he is one of them. Okay, [Lionel] Messi is a little bit higher than all of them, but Sergio is one of them."

While Guardiola acknowledges City will have to enter the transfer market when Aguero calls time on his Premier League career, he feels the likes of Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva mean a playmaking replacement for David Silva is probably not required.

"Maybe I'll change my mind, it depends on the next six months, but I have other priorities and I don't think I am going to buy because we have many there," he added.

"Bernardo can play there, Phil is there, we have Gundogan, we have Kevin. In this position I think we are not going to do anything."

Former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has warned Pep Guardiola not to buy a new defender in January.

City opted not to sign a replacement when Kompany left at the end of last season and Aymeric Laporte is not expected to return for at least another two months after sustaining a knee injury in September.

Guardiola has been left with John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as his only two senior centre-backs and has been forced to deploy Fernandinho in the role at times this season.

City have looked shaky defensively in recent weeks, keeping only one clean sheet in six games in all competitions, and their concerns at the back were laid bare in Sunday's 3-1 defeat to Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield.

Kompany, though, does not think the solution is to spend big money on a reinforcement in the transfer window.

"I don't think they need to sign another defender," he told Sky Sports.

"We always struggle at Anfield. I said that on Super Sunday: you're fighting 25 years of not winning at Anfield and that's difficult, it's two games in one game - you're playing a great team and you're fighting history.

"Flip it around and the same will happen for Liverpool - they will fight the history of not winning the league for 30 years.

"That should be to City's advantage I still think. As to the defence, the best way for City to defend in the past has been to attack. They have no reason to change that.

"As soon as they start reconnecting with the best performances, I'm convinced that we can see a sustainable amount of wins."

The defeat, which leaves City nine points behind Liverpool in the table, was not without its controversy.

The opening goal from Fabinho was allowed to stand despite the ball having struck the arm of Trent Alexander-Arnold in the Liverpool box seconds earlier, with VAR backing referee Michael Oliver's decision not to give City a penalty.

"The incident happens and I'm confused," Kompany said. "That's the problem. I'm confused. I'm thinking 'okay, I'm not the expert in everything'. Then I look to my right at Jose Mourinho, Roy Keane and Graeme Souness. We're all confused.

"Surely that says something about the process, the fact that this could still be for debate when there's a VAR system that is meant to make football simpler and fairer?

"[The] goal happens 20 seconds later. My feeling remains that although Liverpool were great, and both teams tried to play the way they are known to play, I felt this first decision was so important to get right."

Manchester City's title defence has not started according to plan, with the champions already trailing Liverpool by eight points.

Jurgen Klopp's side have won eight from eight in the Premier League, while City headed into the international break on the back of a surprise home defeat to Wolves.

For Pep Guardiola, City's defence has to be a huge concern, even though the former Barcelona boss has insisted the club will not be looking to replace the injured Aymeric Laporte in January.

Laporte is set to miss the majority of the season after sustaining an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in August, while Vincent Kompany has left a sizeable void in City's defence.

Nicolas Otamendi has been largely unconvincing, while John Stones has his own injury problems and Fernandinho – arguably the Premier League's best defensive midfielder – has had to fill in at the back.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace, we use Opta data to assess how Guardiola can patch up City's struggling defence.

 

RELIANCE ON OTAMENDI A CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Guardiola has not been helped by a spate of bad luck with injuries, especially with Laporte, who has been mightily impressive since his arrival from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018.

Stones, meanwhile, has been in and out of the side due to both injuries and form, with Kompany preferred for the run-in last season. Otamendi looked set to join Kompany in leaving the club in the off season, though has been a mainstay of City's back line, making seven league appearances and two more in the Champions League. 

The Argentine does boast a passing accuracy of 92.52 per cent, which is higher than Fernandinho or Laporte, while he has also lost possession 148 times fewer than the Frenchman.

While Otamendi has only featured in 25 Premier League matches since the start of last season, he does have a higher tackle, duel and aerial duel success rate than Laporte and only conceded 16 fouls.

However, the former Valencia man showed clear weaknesses in the defeat to Wolves, recklessly lunging in on Raul Jimenez in the build-up to the opener, while it was his mistake at Carrow Road which led to Norwich City's third goal in a 3-2 win for the Canaries.

Of the players who have played at the back for City since the start of 2018-19, only Otamendi (2) has made errors which directly resulted in a goal.

KOMPANY'S IMPACT UNDERESTIMATED?

City reportedly moved for Harry Maguire in the off season, only to baulk at Leicester City's asking price, which was eventually paid by cross-city rivals Manchester United.

However, the decision not to replace inspirational former captain Kompany, who scored a stunning goal against Leicester as he led City to the title last term, seemed a risky one.

City did not lose a single game in all competitions last season in which Kompany started, with the Belgian having been named in 13 Premier League line ups.

Kompany played 1,223 minutes in the top flight last term, making no errors resulting in a shot at goal, while managing an impressive pass accuracy of 93.07% behind only Stones in terms of City's defenders.

The 33-year-old lost possession 93 times, though, perhaps due to a lack of pace, did concede 17 fouls – more than Otamendi or Stones despite playing fewer games.

He was dribbled past by an opponent on only one occasion and, from the 18 matches he started in all competitions last season, City claimed 17 wins, conceding just 12 goals.

SETTLE ON STONES UNTIL JANUARY

The simple answer to City's problems is likely to get Laporte back fit and firing as soon as possible, given they have an 82 per cent win percentage with the 25-year-old starting in the Premier League since the start of last season, compared to 75% without.

However, for now Guardiola must find a defensive pairing he can stick with until January. Fernandinho and Otamendi have featured in the last three league matches, but against Wolves their lack of pace was exposed.

Stones should soon return to action and, though the England international's form has been criticised, his statistics make for promising reading.

The former Everton man has a tackle success rate of 75%, higher than any of City's other centre-backs, and has conceded just six fouls since the start of 2018-19.

If Stones can stay fit, he should be City's first-choice centre-back until the new year, with Otamendi and Fernandinho vying for the other spot.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.