Manchester City fans have fallen in love.
Last summer, City added to the already-stellar squad with a couple of signings that appear to have added the finishing touches.
Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy came in to add some much-needed pace in the full-back positions, while Bernardo Silva was drafted in to add another dimension to the club’s attack.
And while those players have all found success in Pep Guardiola’s side, one player brought in has been a revelation: Ederson.
The goalkeeper, who joined from Benfica last summer, plays like a sweeper behind John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi (and sometimes Vincent Kompany or Aymeric Laporte), and has shown impeccable calmness on the ball.
With the ability of a defensive midfielder with the ball at his feet, Ederson has proven instrumental in City’s sensational season so far. Never before has the Premier League seen a goalkeeper employ such an approach, and City fans are loving every minute of it.
But where did he get it from? Where do you get the gumption to play in such a composed manner with nippy opposition strikers breathing down your neck, knowing that the slightest mistake could be perilous?
“I think my footwork is influenced from having started as a full-back,” Ederson was quoted as saying in the Manchester Evening News. “Also I played futsal and that helped me a lot. I used to play as a goleiro-linha’ – it’s a goalkeeper that plays a lot with his feet.
“So we used to attack with five players and defend with five players. From that period, I had my shooting skills and good footwork.
“I started playing as a full-back, but it’s difficult to chase quick forwards, especially for me that I’m not particularly quick!
“I had lots of trouble running after the forwards. I asked my manager if I could switch my position to the goal. When I did my first training session, it was love at first sight.
“I liked it since minute one and then my career as a goalkeeper started.”
The Brazilian was a great fan of the eccentric and brilliant Rogerio Ceni, a goalkeeper who almost scored as many free-kicks as David Beckham.
In Saturday’s drubbing of Leicester, Ederson found himself closer to the half-way line than his goal-line with the ball at his feet and Jamie Vardy closing in on him. Wide on the left, Ederson kept his cool, lifted his head and sprayed the ball out to Kyle Walker. He then trotted back to his penalty area.
Ederson tells of Guardiola’s influence, which has helped mould him into one of the league’s best stoppers, saying: “He told me about the importance of the build-up, but also about the ‘mid-balls’ and with me he could also have ‘long-balls’, so our game was going to be more complete.
“So when I started training here, we worked a lot on that, the short, mid and long-balls. Training session after training session I got used to it and kept improving.”