While Sunderland fans will have noticed because, well, they watch their team on a regular basis, Manchester City supporters might not all be aware that one of their loanees, Jason Denayer, has been moved to defensive midfield by David Moyes.
Used as a stop gap until the 3-0 win against Hull, the Belgian defender was shifted into midfield, and has stayed there since, helping them pick up two valuable wins in their last five games.
Interviewed by Sport/Foot magazine this week, Denayer’s agent, Jesse de Preter, spoke at length about his client’s positional change, as well as Manchester City’s confidence in their loanee, despite this being his third temporary deal in three seasons.
He said: “I always thought he should play as a 6. I’m not saying it’s his best position, but at his age, it’s an interesting thing to learn. Look at Gerard Piqué at Zaragoza and Vincent Kompany at Hamburg. They are centre-backs who learnt the game playing a bit further up the pitch in order to avoid them making too many costly mistakes.
“I think it’s the same for Jason, and that this midfield position helps his natural development. From Manchester City’s point of view, they clearly happy he’s playing again. The advantage for Jason is that he has time. His contract runs until 2020, he’s been renewed twice. The club believes in him and there’s no rush.”
First loaned to Celtic, where he enjoyed a great campaign alongside now Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk, Denayer then rejected a move to Marseille in favour of Champions League football with Galatasaray last season.
Now at Sunderland, the 21-year-old has made 10 appearances for the Black Cats this season, as well as two appearances in the EFL Trophy with the club’s reserves.