The Portuguese international has had a huge impact on the Premier League leaders’ defence since his arrival from Benfica
Joleon Lescott says Ruben Dias has brought a similar mentality to Manchester City’s defence as Virgil van Dijk did at Liverpool following his arrival.
City have put together an incredible defensive record since Dias joined the club from Benfica in September, winning 20 of their 27 matches, keeping 16 clean sheets and conceding just nine times.
The Portugal international has also brought a leadership quality to the Etihad, which has been missing since former captain Vincent Kompany left the club following their last title success in 2019.
“Dias is the figure we were looking for – he had won stuff,” said Lescott, who was a key defender in City’s first Premier League title success in 2012.
“He knows what it means, knows the standards, and has a winning mentality. He’s been there before. He’s bringing that experience.”
Some of Dias’ statistics are actually better than Van Dijk’s following the Dutchman’s move from Southampton.
City have conceded 17 fewer goals, kept four more clean sheets and won three more games than Liverpool did following Van Dijk’s arrival in January 2018.
“The stats are considerably better [for Ruben],” Lescott said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Dias but he came into a team that had success – Liverpool hadn’t.
“Liverpool were hopeful of being contenders. The gap they had to reduce was difficult – and that’s not playing down what Dias has done because he deserves a lot of credit – but it’s hard to say one impact is bigger than the other.
“If we hadn’t signed Dias and won the league this season, that wouldn’t be a surprise.”
Lescott has been hugely impressed with the way Dias has instantly fit into the City side with a minimum of fuss.
The 23-year-old centre-back has played nearly every minute in the Premier League since his arrival as well as striking up a strong partnership with John Stones at the heart of the defence.
“The biggest thing for me is his reliability and consistency,” Lescott added. “He’s solid at all aspects – heading, tackling – but his availability is the biggest thing.
“He’s played 50 games in the past two seasons with Benfica – and already played 27 for City – that’s a huge thing having someone who is always fit and available.
“Coming to a new country at his age during lockdown and playing this well says a lot. It’s surprising he’s only 23 – he plays and seems like a very mature person.
“That comes with coming from a big club. Benfica isn’t an average club, it’s massive where the demands are very high – as high as City’s. So he’s come from a winning mentality. They are things people take for granted.”