Keeping Ortega could be Man City's biggest challenge this summer

Xabi Mancisidor has been at Manchester City so long that he owns relative autonomy over the goalkeeping department. A coach who joined with Manuel Pellegrini in 2011 and persuaded to stay on under Pep Guardiola can lay claim to have left a substantial mark on this title race.

Without Mancisidor, it is unlikely that Stefan Ortega would be part of this squad. Somebody else comes on for Ederson at Tottenham and maybe it’s a different outcome. Maybe they don’t fling a leg at Heung-min Son’s late one-on-one. Maybe they are not then called the ‘best keeper in the world’ by Rodri.

City plucked Ortega from Arminia Bielefeld on a free transfer two years ago and Mancisidor drove that particular deal, regularly messaging and ringing the German in a bid to convince him. Guardiola leans on his goalkeeping coach to make the calls in that area and he’s got this one spot on.

Ortega had just been relegated from the Bundesliga. He is not capped by his country. When at 1860 Munich, he contemplated giving up and going into the armed forces.

He’d never really pulled up any trees and on his first day at City, the frightening quality on show at training led him to call his agent and complain that this had all been a massive mistake. Even the defenders were whistling efforts by Ortega’s ears that day.

Stefan Ortega came off the bench and put in a heroic performance against Tottenham on Tuesday

He denied Heung-min Son when the forward was through on goal late on

He also kept out two efforts from Dejan Kulusevski after coming off the bench

He’d thought long and hard about whether to make the move, Ortega on record as saying there were more lucrative financial packages on offer elsewhere. First-team football was the opposite of guaranteed but Mancisidor’s persistence had been a determining factor.

Ortega told himself to give it a year as Ederson’s No 2 and if it didn’t work out, then he’d leave. He ended that year having played in an all-Manchester FA Cup final and winning a Treble.

In Istanbul, Ortega stayed up drinking all night with the goalkeeping group, with Ederson, Scott Carson, Mancisidor and Richard Wright.

He values the bonds they have created, his relationship with Carson described as special. Bayern Munich came calling in the weeks after and City said they had no intention of letting go somebody who had impressed whenever called upon but, perhaps more importantly, raised Ederson’s levels in such a way that the Brazilian became more robust and ended up a hero in the Champions League final.

Ortega was slightly restless though. Despite the Wembley final, he hadn’t featured a great deal, appearances largely reserved for the cup competitions, and now the other side of 30, needed games. Nottingham Forest also made their interest known, given the same answer as Bayern.

City goalkeeping coach Xabi Mancisidor (right) played a crucial role in bringing Ortega to City

This year has been different – which poses its own headaches for City. Ortega has played more often, Tottenham his 18th appearance of the season.

It was his fourth off the bench with Ederson enduring a collection of injuries during matches as Guardiola waits to find out the extent of eye damage sustained after Cristian Romero clattered into him on Tuesday night.

‘Eddy is first choice but we rely incredibly on Stefan,’ Guardiola said recently. ‘We have two incredible keepers, unbelievable. They are so reliable, with their own qualities. I sleep really well with these keepers.’

It’s a headache for City because Ortega – out of contract in 2025 - has been so good. His father’s from Cadiz and they used to holiday in Spain, going on tours of the Bernabeu, and Ortega says that sitting on the bench there for last year’s European semi-final was the realisation of a childhood dream. This year he was picked ahead of Ederson for the 3-3 draw. Times and goals change.

Ortega steadfastly believes he is ready to oust Ederson, 30, and that is the main crux of contract negotiations that have ground to a halt.

Ortega came on for the injured Ederson and believes he is ready to oust the Brazilian

Pep Guardiola faces a challenge to keep Ortega at City as he wants to play regular first-team football

To the naked eye, his shot stopping seems superior. His short kicking is almost on a par, although Ederson is comfortably more progressive over longer distances. There isn’t much between them and the greatest compliment to Ortega is that you might not notice if Ederson wasn’t around.

He wants his future decided weeks after the FA Cup final – which he will play again – and City would do well to replace him at this point. No City fan needs reminding of Zack Steffen’s calamity as deputy.

He does enjoy Manchester, living on the Cheshire belt but likening the city to his favourite back home, Hamburg. His family have grown close to Akanji and De Bruyne’s. He’s embracing the North West.

But for the keeper nicknamed ‘testosterone bull’ in his youth, when he was not quite so calm, time is ticking. ‘He wants to play every weekend so honestly I don’t know,’ Guardiola said, knowing that Ortega’s situation could be their biggest problem this summer.

Read full news in source page