Manchester City added to their midfield ranks prior to the closure of the summer transfer window with the capture of Javi Garcia from Benfica for a fee in the region of £16m. The 25-year-old arrives at the Etihad on a long-term deal and was one of four acquisitions made by Roberto Mancini on transfer deadline day, along with Maicon, Matija Nastasic and back-up keeper Richard Wright:
A product of the Real Madrid youth system, Garcia made his debut for the La Liga giants at the age of 17. He managed three first-team appearances in 2004 before turning out for the Madrid B Side, Castilla, the following season but with little opportunity to establish a place in the first XI, he made his way to Oviedo in 2007. Garcia made 25 appearances and found the net on two occasions as he helped his new club avoid relegation, and his consistent displays persuaded Real to exercise a buy-back contract clause which saw the midfielder return to the Bernabeu for the 2008-09 campaign.
His second stint at Madrid proved a bitter disappointment. Garcia was handed just three starts, with 12 of his 15 appearances coming from the subs bench – surplus to requirement yet again, he was snapped up by Benfica for €7m the following summer. Over three full seasons with the Portuguese outfit, Garcia firmly established himself as a key first-team player, turning out 72 times and providing six goals and a trio of assists from his deep-lying midfield berth. He also featured twice for Benfica this season before Mancini splashed the cash to secure his services. Despite a promising youth career for Spain, where he represented his country at every level from Under 16 to Under 21, Garcia has found it difficult to break into the senior side – a friendly game against Serbia earlier this year is his only cap to date.
Garcia made an immediate impact on his league debut for City. Notching his side’s equaliser in the Gameweek 4 draw at Stoke, he was awarded a couple of FPL bonus points for a strong all-round performance in the heart of the midfield four alongside Yaya Toure. As the stats above show, however, he’s hardly renowned for his attacking returns but Mancini is clearly a fan, with the Spaniard also handed the full 90 minutes for the 3-2 Champions League defeat at Real Madrid.
With Toure’s role in the City midfield nailed-on, Garcia’s arrival looks set to have a detrimental effect on Jack Rodwell’s game time, though he’s likely to vie for a starting role with Gareth Barry in a 4-4-2 alongside the Ivorian. Mancini’s recent flirtation with a 3-5-2 could possibly boost Garcia’s appeal, depending on Samir Nasri’s current hamstring situation – if the Frenchman is ruled out in the short-term, Toure may be handed the role behind the strikers, allowing Garcia to partner Barry in front of the City back-three.
Certainly, if Ivory Coast seal their qualification for the January African Cup of Nations, Toure’s enforced absence will surely benefit the new boy in the New Year. Priced at 5.5 in FPL and 5.7 in the Sky Sports game, Garcia offers a relatively cut-price route into Mancini’s midfield – as highlighted last weekend, he has the potential to be a real differential but his acquisition will always come at a risk. Fantasy managers are all too aware of Mancini’s penchant for first-team rotation, however, with many bitten already this season by his first-team tinkering. Garcia is a class player, there’s no doubting that, but unless he can somehow establish himself as one of the City manager’s “untouchables”, the Spaniard is likely to be given a wide berth by the vast majority over the season ahead.