Juan Arango: Unheralded Venezualan helps to steady the Gladbach ship

It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for Borussia Monchengladbach. After their superb efforts of last season which saw them finish fourth in the Bundesliga to qualify for the Europa League, The Foals lost their two best players, centre-half Dante and the gifted young attacking midfielder Marco Reus, to Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively. It left Gladbach and their manager Lucien Favre having to rebuild once again on the northern banks of the river Rhine.

Even though they bought in young Dutch striker Luuk De Jong, Basel’s centre midfielder Granit Xhaka and Atletico Madrid centre-half Alvaro Dominguez, the first season without their talented spine was always going to be hard. It has been one of stabilising the club for Favre however, as they sit tenth in the Bundesliga with cup interest over having just been eliminated from Europe by Lazio.

Dominguez has slotted in well but the other signings have been unconvincing, Xhaka has been restricted to just 9 starts while De Jong has returned a meagre 3 goals from his £10 million transfer fee. Perhaps the biggest positive have been two players already at the Borussia Park, German forward Patrick Hermann who is top scorer with 6 goals and their Venezuelan left-winger, Juan Arango.

Due to Arango’s low profile background, this may be the first time you have heard of him. His early years were spent in his native South America where he won the CONCACAF Champion’s Cup with Pachuca in 2002, before he was bought to Europe by Mallorca in 2004. He made 183 appearances in Spain before moving to Germany for a modest €3.3 million and has proven himself to be an important, and loyal, servant.

He played 34 games for Monchengladbach last year, contributing to their fourth placed finish with 12 assists and he’s started every one of their 22 league games this season, playing a further 6 games in the Europa League, scoring 8 goals and assisting 7.

Arango’s technical brilliance and the balance he offers on the left side is vital to Favre’s 4-4-2 and despite his ability to move forward to play as a more conventional winger, he is happiest as a reserved left-sided midfielder.

His attributes read like a supremely gifted winger, able to beat a man, deliver a deadly set piece, shoot from range or play others in with a cutting through ball, he is also disciplined enough to offer strong protection to left-back Oscar Wendt in behind him. He can also score a superb goal too, those with YouTube at their disposal can watch a stunning volley against Wolfsburg and a sublime free-kick in the recent European meeting with Lazio.

At 32, his experience has proved vital to Favre’s stabilising job and also, he never seems to miss a game; as well as the masses of performances he has made for Mallorca, 183, and now Monchengladbach, 114 so far, he also has 110 caps for his country. His enthusiasm for the game is outstanding.

It is this type of well-rounded character that has held the squad together as Favre has had to deal with the monumental loss of two excellent players. It will be vital for the Swiss coach, with Arango’s contract expiring in the summer of 2014, that he ties his underrated winger, who is lighting up the Bundesliga with a series of impressive performances, to a new deal before Gladbach lose another great asset.

Remember the name, Juan Arango. You probably won’t know who he is, but that’s a huge testament to his understated quality which Monchengladbach reap week in, week out.


Written by Adam Gray

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250

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