The summer signing of Ruben Dias has been a game changer for Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola's side have been consistently lauded for their enchanting brand of attacking football in recent years, but their defensive proficiency has been scrutinised and with good reason.
Defensive blunders cost the club dearly in a shock quarter-final exit from the Champions League against Lyon back in August, so it was no surprise when Txiki Begiristain negotiated a deal for Dias in the summer.
There were doubts over the Portuguese Goliath's ability to make the transition from Liga Nos to the Premier League, and at £62m it looked like a major gamble from the extravagant spenders.
However, Dias has seamlessly stepped into City's defensive unit, providing raw leadership qualities, defensive nous and immaculate technique when distributing from the back.
But it seems that City have signed two players rather than one.
Prior to Dias' arrival, John Stones' career at the club looked dead and buried. A series of injury problems combined with issues away from the field and the emergence of Eric Garcia pushed him to the periphery of the first-team squad.
Many predicted the end for the England international at the Etihad Stadium, but he is now firmly back in contention to earn a place in Gareth Southgate's squad for Euro 2021 following a sublime run of form alongside Dias.
The newly formed pairing have established a formidable understanding and their partnership has underpinned the club's return to title-worthy form.
That City have kept eight clean sheets in the ten games Stones and Dias have started together speaks volumes about how well they have been performing.
Such remarkable statistics haven't gone unnoticed in the British press, and Trevor Sinclair has even gone as far to suggest that there are parallels to be drawn with the iconic Manchester United duo of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, per talkSPORT.
“It’s been outstanding (watching Stones and Dias). It kind of reminds me of when Vidic and Rio were together – one of them would make a block and they’d high five each other.
“It just seems they’ve got that kind of relationship and chemistry where they respect each other.
“They look like they’re a really good contrast of players; one of them wants to head the ball, Ruben Dias is a really good talker and John Stones’ stats… he’s played eight, won seven and drawn one and lost none."
The weight of that comparison cannot be understated.
As far as iconic Premier League duos go, Vidic and Ferdinand are right up there with the best of them.
Under Sir Alex Ferguson's watch they played together 197 times and won 136 of those matches. They averaged almost a clean sheet every other game with 96 in all.
The bond City's new centre-back pairing have struck is certainly an auspicious sign for the club's future, but they have a long way to go before they can join United's revered duo on their pedestal.News Now - Sport News