Immense, inspirational and imperious have been words to describe Vincent Kompany ever since he joined Manchester City.
So too again on Thursday night when he marshalled his side’s backline so effectively in the goalless Premier League draw with rivals United. As mad as Marouane Fellaini was for his crazy headbutt on Sergio Aguero, his fellow Belgian was magnificent against frontmen with the pace and prowess of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Next August will be a decade since Kompany signed for just £6 million from Hamburg – days before Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s landmark takeover.
Arguably the most important arrival in City’s history and easily the biggest bargain in a period of expensive outlays. Yet Kompany is fighting for his future following injury concerns, particularly over the past two seasons.
On the evidence of his dominant derby display in a third successive start without breaking down, Pep Guardiola should rejoice.
Many thought the 31-year-old was finished, but he is reborn. The titles ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ may be synonymous with Chelsea stalwart John Terry, but apply to Kompany too.
Courageous, a calming influence, he brings reassurance to the City backline and commands respect.
Guardiola may worry about how many games he can play successively, but with the right management of his schedule and training, there are few centre-backs better when he’s in shape – and he deserves at least another season to prove that.
Leonardo Bonucci would be a fantastic addition to any team, and the prospect of the Italian alongside Kompany, Otamendi and John Stones would provide the cornerstone of a side capable of challenging for all four trophies next season, not just battling for the top four.
Experience allied to enthusiasm will be key to City’s future hopes and, while an influx of youth is needed at full-back and midfield, Guardiola should be careful not discard the old guard just yet.
While changes are inevitable after a campaign of under-achievement, Yaya Toure – like Kompany – is another to show he can still make an impact. He may be 34 next month and out of contract in June, but has run their midfield in the past two games against Arsenal and United, for whom Michael Carrick has been equally efficient at 35.
Gabriel Jesus may be the future but Sergio Aguero has hit 30 goals in 41 games this season, two shy of his best-ever tally.
Kompany, Toure and Aguero still provide a solid spine from where City can rebuild and ensure this trophyless season was just a blip.