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Javier Manquillo was headed on loan to Marseille a year back. But Premier League sides Arsenal and Liverpool came in the fray for the youngster and soon after, news broke that the Reds had agreed a deal for a two year loan for the Atletico Madrid right back.
Not much was expected from the youngster initially, mainly because he was fairly unheard of. However, Manquillo was used by Rodgers regularly at the start of the season and he performed strikingly, surprising a lot of people. There were times last season when Manquillo was the only player performing consistently for the side, especially in the tempestuous opening half of the season.
But ironically, Rodgers shifted the formation to a three man back-line to get the best out of the remainder of the team and Manquillo became redundant as he couldn’t be used as a right wing-back. Many would argue that he wasn’t given much of a chance to prove whether or not he could, but when he was used, like he didn’t have that much attacking instinct in him to do justice to that role.
The Spaniard spent the remainder of the season on the bench and recently had the second year of his loan with Liverpool scrapped out.
Things aren’t so bad for the youngster though, as he is now reportedly headed to Marseille (there was significant interest from AS Roma as well), and under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa, who was said to be keen to acquire his services a year back as well.
Bielsa is getting a fine young player to work with as Manquillo has shown the qualities to become a solid right back.
What is especially incredible about the 21-year-old is the fact that his defensive abilities are pretty good, especially good in a day and age for the “modern full-back” where there is more focus on attack than on defence.
In the 10 games he played in the Premier League (started all), he averaged 3.8 successful tackles per 90 minutes in an average attempt of 4.5 tackles per 90 minutes. He also averaged 2.6 successful interceptions every 90 minutes. That is incredible for a full-back in today’s time because so much importance is given to the offensive side.
Brice Dja Djédjé, who primarily played as a right back for Bielsa last season, averaged 1.8 successful tackles every 90 minutes. These numbers can be misleading because Dja Djédjé played in the midfield in some games, as well as played 23 games more than Manquillo, but we can still form a vague picture of what Manquillo brings to a team.
The Spaniard has certain areas to improve, namely his offensive side. His crossing is not very good and for a full-back, it is essential.
At Marseille and under Bielsa, he will have the perfect opportunity to do the same. He will perhaps be a squad option initially, but the Argentinean is likely to give him enough opportunity to impress and he should look to nail down a starting spot in the team. Marseille have plenty of games with Europa League and cup competitions to play besides the league.
If the Spaniard wants to go back and play regularly for Atletico Madrid and get into the senior Spain side, he will need to do well on loan this season.
Written by Aakriti Mehrotra
Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1
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