When one door closes, another one opens. That appears to be the case at Manchester City. With Pep Guardiola's public revelation that Eric Garcia is refusing to sign a new deal and wishes to return to Barcelona, the door has seemingly shut on the young Spaniard's future at the Etihad Stadium.
However, that has paved the way for an unlikely route back into City's first-team squad for a certain academy graduate: Tosin Adarabioyo.
The 22-year-old spent the past two seasons on loan in the EFL Championship. First, he played for West Brom in the 2018/19 season, where he made 29 appearances and enjoyed some regular spells in the side but failed to make a significant impression.
This year, however, has been a different story. At Blackburn Rovers, the young English defender has won plaudits for his performances in the Lancashire side's team, and earned the admiration of the Ewood Park crowd.
He's even displayed an eye for goal, with three goals in 35 appearances in all competitions. These performances have prompted speculation that Manchester City want to offer Adarabioyo a new contract, and Pep Guardiola could use the pre-season to assess Tosin's development ahead of a possible promotion to the first-team squad.
It seems an opportune moment, therefore, to hear some valuable insight into just how Adarabioyo has got on this season.
And where better to find it than popular Blackburn Rovers channel Rovers Chat. They kindly took the time out to tell us about Adarabioyo's breakthrough season, his strengths and weaknesses, his suitability for Guardiola's system and the defender's future prospects.
Thanks for joining us! How would you evaluate Tosin Adarabioyo's season overall? I've seen that the official Blackburn Rovers site mentioned him as a candidate for the club's player of the year - would he get your vote?
It’s been a really positive season for Tosin! He struggled to get a regular run in the side in the early months of the season, but once he got a proper chance, he never looked back.
He’s forged a strong partnership with Darragh Lenihan at the back, with Tosin’s passing style complimenting Lenihan’s no nonsense approach, and they’ve had a decent record together - winning 50% of the matches the duo have played together.
Adarabioyo has been up there in terms of the better players at the club this season, but there have been a couple ahead of him in terms of the Player of the Year award.
What areas of his game do you think developed the most as the season progressed?
I’d say the increase in confidence has been clear to see. He was slightly hesitant at the start to try some things, but he’s grown as the season has gone on and I’d love to see him back next season - but I don’t expect that to happen.
As mentioned in the last question, he has settled in well alongside Lenihan, and this has helped his confidence as well. He’s become better in the air as the season has gone on as well, and he has slowly become a solid defender.
What are his best attributes, and what are the areas of his game that will need to develop if he is to succeed in the Premier League?
His passing is up there as one of his best attributes. He does have his off games, like any young defender (most defenders in fact) does, but he has helped us change from our “Route One” system last season to a more possession based system.
Tosin’s increase in confidence has seen him play twenty/thirty yard passes along the floor, and they’ve seen us go from defence to attack in an instant - try and find his highlights from the 5-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday in January!
I’m not too sure there is much for him to improve on as such. If I was going to pick up on a certain area for Tosin to improve, I would probably suggest his decision making. He sometimes lumps the ball up when there is a simple pass on, and if he develops that side, he’ll continue to progress.
How well-suited do you think Adarabioyo is to Pep Guardiola's system?
I’ve not watched too much of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side, but I know he is well-known for his Tiki-Taka approach, and so I believe Tosin will fit in well into the side.
He probably needs a season on loan at a Premier League side who play a passing style - Leeds come to mind as a Ben White replacement - to get used to the top flight, and if that goes to plan, I’d give him a shot in the City side.
How does he seem off-the-pitch, is he a model professional for example, popular within the dressing room and with the Ewood Park faithful?
He seems to be very popular within the dressing room. Tosin has clearly been a welcomed addition to the team and some of the players - and the boss, of course - have spoken of how they’d love to see him back at the club.
The fans have warmed to him massively. A song has been created for him - “He’s magic, you know, Tosin Adarabioyoooo” (to the tune of Magic by Pilot) - and I don’t think there is a fan out there who wouldn’t welcome him back to Ewood Park next season or anytime in the future - both as a Rovers player or an opposition player, although we’d prefer the former.
Finally, how would you rate his long-term prospects of establishing himself in the City squad, be it as a regular or a reliable back-up?
I definitely think Tosin can go on to play at the higher levels of football. I think his chances at Manchester City depend on the money Pep - or any future managers - decide to spend.
I’d assume the likes of Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake will be ahead of him for the coming years, so it’s all about him impressing at another PL club on loan and then forcing his way into the side.
Wherever his future lies, on behalf of all Rovers fans, I wish him the best in the future and hope he plays in the Blue and White halves for us again.
Thanks once again to @Rovers_Chat for providing us with some great insight into Adarabioyo's season, best of luck to Blackburn for next season, hopefully they'll be fine even without Tosin!
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