In a successful team, no individual player is more important than the collective. I think that’s something we can all agree on.
With that in mind I trust Nuno’s judgment in bringing Leo Bonatini back; a player he feels gives his side greater tactical dexterity.
Even after the Brazilian stopped scoring at the turn of the year and saw his game time restricted by the arrival of Afobe and the manager’s growing preference for a front three containing no traditional center forward, it was still obvious he was held in high regard.
Take all the big games down the home stretch against Fulham, Aston Villa and Cardiff. Who was leading the line? Bonatini.
To say his form was patchy during this period would be an understatement but there was obviously a component of his play that Nuno felt was imperative to the team. Many disagreed of course and with justification.
Pre-Christmas he was one of the go-to buys, bringing Jota and Cavaleiro into the game in dangerous areas of the pitch while possessing that delightful knack if being in the right place to stick the ball in the net.
My own perspective was that he continued to do the link-up stuff but simply stopped getting into the six yard box for tap-ins and as the goals dried up, his confidence took a hit.
There was also, admittedly, that lingering cliche of a Brazilian not revelling in the cold climate, which he did little to disprove.
He’ll get the opportunity to put that accusation to bed in the Premier League and it will be intriguing to see how he dovetails with Raúl Jiménez and the other players across the forward line.
Ruben Vinagre has also comeback of course and that one is a more straightforward ‘yes’ from me with the young left-back impressive all the times I saw him deputise for Barry Douglas, including a Herculean effort at the Etihad in that memorable shutout of the Premier League champions.
Both players are already woven into the fabric of what’s still a pretty lean looking squad, so if nothing else, it’s great for team spirit, which can be as important an ingredient as anything else.