Premier League

Manquillo Could Be Benitez’s New Arbeloa

 • by Sam McGuire
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It’s becoming a bit of a habit for Newcastle United to sign a full-back who had previously spent the season on loan with neighbours Sunderland. Last summer it was DeAndre Yedlin and this time around it’s Javi Manquillo.

The 23-year-old was loan at the Stadium of Light last season and made 20 appearances in the Premier League as the Black Cats dropped down a division. It was his second spell in England having played for Liverpool during the 2014/15 season.

At Anfield he was solid yet unremarkable and was somewhat frozen out after Brendan Rodgers switched to a 3-4-3 formation.

“When the system changed it was obviously a little more difficult for him,” Rodgers said.

“Young Manqui is a good defender. He has come in, he signed a two-year loan because the first year was always going to be about adapting to the league and of course he hasn’t played as much as he probably would have liked to play.

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“But a lot of that has been due to the system change. He is a good kid and hopefully he comes back in pre-season and can work well and work his way into the team.”

Just a month after those quotes the Reds cut short his loan and he was back with parent club Atlético Madrid by July 2015.

His loans in England sandwiched a spell with Marseille. Everywhere he’s been he’s put in solid performances but teams haven’t signed him on a permanent basis.

But it is understood that Atleti boss Diego Simeone has deemed the Spanish full-back surplus to requirements at the Vicente Calderón, paving the way for a return to the Premier League.

Reports claim a £4.5million deal has been agreed and the Spaniard could be a Newcastle player by the end of the week.

Rafael Benítez, who earlier in the window revealed his frustrations about the lack of business, was vocal about the necessity of such signings: “We’re not signing top-class players in the Premier League, we’re signing the players we can and the players who can do a job for us” 

Manquillo – Typical Benítez Defender

Yedlin and Vernon Anita shared the right-back role for the majority of last season as Newcastle went on to win promotion.

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With Yedlin expected to be the more long-term full-back at the club it’s better, and fairer, to compare the American to the potential new arrival.

The former Spurs man is a typical modern day full-back; his strengths tend to lie in the attacking third as opposed to the defensive one. This, of course, isn’t a negative by any means.

Many managers view their full-backs almost as wingers these days.

They’re expected to be good when isolated one-on-one and they’re the ones to offer the width down the flanks.

However, Benítez remains a conservative coach. His defenders have to be able to defend. While in charge at Anfield he pieced together the best defensive unit the club has had since the inception of the Premier League.

First it was Steve Finnan and then it was Álvaro Arbeloa at right-back. The latter made his debut playing left-back against a certain Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou and put in a man-of-the-match performance.

Arbeloa went on to become of the most consistent and reliable members of Bentítez’s team and there are similarities between he and Manquillo.

Both Spanish full-backs are versatile and can operate on either flank. The pair are technically sound and calm in high pressure situations.

It’s easy to take them for granted and it’s a guarantee that fans won’t fully appreciate the impact a player like that has on the team until they aren’t available.

Just as supporters of Liverpool who saw Glen Johnson replace the former Deportivo La Coruña man and the defence was never the same.

When comparing the full-backs context needs to be added: Yedlin was playing in the best team in the Championship whereas Manquillo was turning out for a side battling relegation for the entire season.

These scenarios will no doubt impact their stats. The American dominated his Spanish counterpart in terms of aerial duels won, but removing that it was pretty even between the two with Manquillo coming out on top in interceptions.

It perhaps shows his reading of the game is better and the need to make fewer tackles stems from him being in a better position to make an interception, which in theory results in fewer free-kicks being awarded. The stats back it up to an extent with Yedlin averaging 0.2 fouls more per 90 minutes than Manquillo.

When prices for full-backs are at an eye-watering high, the Magpies could be getting an absolute bargain, and it would be a typical Benítez signing.

Newcastle aren’t going to be a flashy team, they’re going to be an efficient one and the Atlético man should fit right in. The manager will have a full-back for all occasions with the pairing of Yedlin and Manquillo.

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