What next for Vincent Kompany at Manchester City?
There is only one reason Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is not rated alongside Nemanja Vidic, Tony Adams, and John Terry as legendary captains in the rearguard. It is not because he isn't as domineering. It's the injuries. When healthy Kompany is a leader of men, a central defender par excellence. When not, those qualities are too often sorely missed.
He’s at a crossroads in his career. Still only 31, it seems his time at City is nearing its end. Pep Guardiola has made signings that indicate the club is planning for life after their captain.
His numbers over the past few years have dropped, as a nasty calf injury has affected his development. From 2011 to 2015, he was the best central defender in England. He struck fear into the hearts of opponents and epitomised City's ascent into a global force. Signed just before the big-money takeover by Sheikh Mansour, he quickly grew into one of the first names on the team sheet under Mark Hughes.
He is not the typical Pep Guardiola central defender. Kompany is not wildly known for passing and playing the ball out of the back. But he has adapted his game, providing leadership to the younger players, instilling a winning mentality in the new players. John Stones, Nicholas Otamendi, and Aymeric Laporte have all performed when called upon at certain points this season.Kompany has always given his best when offered the responsibility.
In the League Cup Final against Arsenal, he rolled back the years to give one of his best displays in a City shirt. His enthusiasm was evident when he matched pace with speedy Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then muscled him off the ball. It looked simple, straightforward, but few beyond Kompany could have done that, much less make it seem routine.
City are building a team for the future. A fully fit Kompany may not be content with a bit-part role. His ambitions for both club and country do not accommodate it. His contract at the Etihad expires at the end of next season. There hasn't been a big effort from the City hierarchy to extend his contract. He is no longer an undisputed member of the starting XI. The fact City have done so well in his absence promises there is life after the Big Belgian. Kompany is a club legend, meaning that he will want to leave on his terms. If he can stay healthy the club may find those terms include the phrase 'in my own good time'.
City fans will never forget the way he led by example in the 2011 FA Cup Final or his winning goal in the 2012 Manchester Derby, which helped City claw back the Premier League lead from United. Kompany still has football left in him. If the club decides to be proactive in transition it might not be at the Etihad. All he can do is work on his fitness and form. Premier League legend, no doubt. City fans adore him. Oher fans appreciate his quality. The rest is out of his hands.