Berlin: In-form RB Leipzig winger Angelino returns to Manchester with a point to prove this week as the Bundesliga side take on Manchester United at Old Trafford in the second round of Champions League group games.
Having failed to nail down a place in the Manchester City first team under Pep Guardiola, the fleet-footed Spanish loanee is now lighting up Leipzig under their young coach Julian Nagelsmann.
The outstanding performer for the Bundesliga leaders this season, Angelino has picked up four goals from seven games, including a quickfire brace to set up Leipzig’s victory over Istanbul Basaksehir in their opening Champions League outing last week.
Now 23, Angelino joined City’s youth academy from Deportivo La Coruna, his local club in the north-western Spanish community of Galicia, as a teenager in 2013. Yet he has struggled to break into Guardiola’s side in recent years.
Following loan spells at Girona, Mallorca and Dutch side NAC Breda, the Spaniard - full name Jose Angel Esmoris Tasende - made just six Premier League appearances for City last season.
He initially joined Leipzig for six months in January, but signed a new loan deal in September, citing better prospects in the Bundesliga than in Manchester.
“I had the niggling feeling that I wasn’t going to play anymore or that I didn’t quite fit in (at City),” he said in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca last week.
By contrast, 33-year-old coach Nagelsmann appears to be the perfect match for Angelino.
The Leipzig boss, who combines possession football with the team’s trademark blistering breaks, has moved the left-back Angelino into a more attacking role this season.
“If I’m honest, Nagelsmann was the reason I signed again for Leipzig. His tactics and style of football suit me perfectly,” the player told Marca.
Nagelsmann himself has sought to play down his own influence on Angelino, instead praising Guardiola and City for providing him with the finished product.
“He obviously came from a very, very good coach. He was a very educated player when he arrived, so the time he needed to adapt was a lot shorter,” said the Leipzig coach after his side beat Basaksehir.
A return to Manchester seems unlikely in the short term, with German media reporting that Angelino’s current deal will almost certainly see him join Leipzig permanently at the end of the season.
According to Bild, Leipzig will have to sign the Spaniard on a four-year, 18 million-euro ($21m) deal if he plays more than 12 league games this term. Yet on Wednesday, the 23-year-old has the chance to show Manchester what it is missing against City’s fierce rivals United.
And despite United’s prestigious history, Angelino believes that his side are well equipped to take all three points at Old Trafford.
“From what I’ve seen of United so far, they are sometimes world class and sometimes average,” he told local newspaper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung after the group-stage draw earlier this month. “We don’t need to be afraid of them.”
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Club Brugge (BEL) vs Lazio (ITA)
Borussia Dortmund (GER) vs Zenit Saint-Petersburg (RUS)
Ferencvaros (HUN) vs Dynamo Kiev (UKR)
Juventus (ITA) vs Barcelona (ESP)
Istanbul Basaksehir (TUR) vs Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Manchester United (ENG) vs RB Leipzig (GER)