Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson has jokingly offered to play outfield for Pep Guardiola’s rampant side as they close in on one of European football’s most prestigious records.
The Premier League leaders host struggling Bournemouth in their final home game of 2017 seeking a 17th consecutive league victory, which would be just two short of the current best for such streak in the five major European leagues.
Guardiola himself set that 19-game mark while in charge of Bayern Munich and, with relatively modest opposition coming up in the form of Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Watford, City appear well-positioned to set a new record.
Ederson has been one of the key additions to this season’s City team, having joined in a £35 million ($47 million, 39 million euros) move from Benfica last summer, with his ability on the ball a vital component in Guardiola’s trademark passing game.
“When I started my career, I was actually a left-back and I do have some qualities playing with my feet,” said the Brazilian.
“It’s a huge responsibility to play at the back, there is no room for mistakes, so I must be constantly focused to give my best.”
“But if there was a situation where I was ever needed outfield, yeah, I’d definitely give it a go,” he added.
City are scoring so freely at the moment, but defence appears to be Guardiola’s one concern, with injury-plagued captain Vincent Kompany again a doubt for the Bournemouth visit with a muscular problem.
With John Stones still not quite ready to return from his own injury lay-off, that will probably leave Eliaquim Mangala to partner Nicolas Otamendi in the heart of the City defence.
Guardiola has hinted broadly that he will seek to sign established defensive cover in the January transfer window, with Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, West Brom’s Jonny Evans and James Tarkowski of Burnley all being linked with City.
In the meantime, it is still unclear whether inspirational playmaker David Silva, who has been in his native Spain for a week for unspecified “personal reasons,” will return for the start of the holiday fixture list.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe admitted his side were left “heartbroken” by the manner of their midweek League Cup defeat to Chelsea, which denied the club their first appearance in a major semi-final.
Having equalised in the last minute of normal time, Howe’s side conceded a winning goal in added time and the manager’s task will be to lift his players after such a painful blow.
Defeat also came at the cost of injuries to Jermain Defoe and Harry Arter, with Defoe in particular expected to face a lay-off after damaging ankle ligaments following a challenge by Chelsea teenager Ethan Ampadu.