Arsenal

Mexican World Cup star wouldn’t improve average Arsenal

 • by Stefan Bienkowski
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Arsenal have wasted little time getting their business done in this summer’s transfer window.

Bernd Leno was signed to contest the starting position between the sticks and senior, while Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner has been brought on board from Juventus to sure up what has been a shaky defence over the past few years.

A number of other players have been rumoured and are perhaps even expected to join Unai Emery’s new revolution in North London, with the most recent name to seemingly pop out of thin air being Mexican defender Miguel Layún.

Layún was of course part of the side that overcame Germany in their first game of the World Cup and with every passing performance for El Tri his stock will undoubtedly continue to grow and grow.

Who is Miguel Layún?

Layún is a defender that has spent most of his career playing across Europe and South America and has made a name for himself in recent weeks performing for the nation that nurtured him from a young age.

Beginning his playing career at Veracruz, the full back spent three years playing for the Mexican side before he earned a move to Italy to play for Serie A side Atalanta. However, Layún struggled to make any impact at the club and after making just two first team appearances he returned to Mexico to play for Club América.

Back in Mexico, Layún finally settled in to his rhythm and over the course of his four years at the club won multiple trophies and league titles. In 2014 he was then courted by Granada and tempted back to Europe, but ended up at Watford where he spent half a season playing for the English club before moving on loan to Porto.

Throughout the 2015/16 season Layún impressed at the Portuguese giants and was signed on a permanent deal at the end of the league campaign, but has since found himself surplus to demands. In January of this year he made the short move to Sevilla, where he featured heavily for the La Liga side ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

What are Miguel Layún’s key strengths?

While Layún is by no means the most attacking full back in the Spanish top division in terms of assists, dribbles or crosses he does tend to have a habit of finding himself on the end of counter attacks. This is evident at both Porto and Sevilla over the past 12 months.

Despite only joining La Liga in January, Layún scored more goals than any other full back in the division last season aside from Real Madrid’s über wing-back, Marcelo, who managed one more than him.

In Sevilla’s 3-2 win over Real Madrid at the end of the season, Layún scored the second goal of the game to make it 2-0 to his team. And as we can see from the screengrab above, the full back is essentially playing as a winger or forward by the time the ball is passed to him within the Madrid box.

Indeed, the senior defender doesn’t tend to dribble past opposing players or outsprint them but he does have an uncanny ability to arrive late in the box. This is again evident in the below screengrab, which shows Layún just before he scored Sevilla’s solitary goal in a 2-1 defeat to Leganes.

Another aspect of Layún’s game that will undoubtedly appeal to Arsenal is the fact that the player can quite happily play – and score – on either wing.

To date, the Mexican defender has made 46 senior appearances at right back and 67 on the left, as well as 15 as a defensive midfielder. Should Emery need a wondersub who can fill three positions from the bench then Layún may be his man.

What are Miguel Layún’s main weaknesses?

While this Arsenal target may be an expert at arriving in the right place at the right time for counter attacks, his ability to actually create goals for his teammates sorely lags behind. Layún made just one assist last season and that should be a worry for any manager.

Indeed, the 29-year old’s assists per game for last season stands at an abysmal 0.08. When we compare that to the likes of Marcelo (0.22), Jordi Alba (0.2) or Daniel Carvajal (0.16) we can see that the Sevilla defend is by no means a player who’ll thread a pass through to an on-running striker or pick out a smart diagonal ball.

This lack of end product might be a concern for someone whose game is so characterised by crossing and similar actions.

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He’d also have to get used to playing with the ball more should he join Arsenal and vye to replace Héctor Bellerin at right-back.

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How much would Miguel Layún cost?

Due to the clauses in Layún’s loan deal with Sevilla, the Spanish club had an option to buy the defender for just £5 million. According to reports in Spain, the La Liga side have opted to save their cash for other targets this window, but that value for a player like this probably makes a lot of sense.

If Arsenal are in the market for a versatile, experienced defender to fill out their depth across the pitch then £5 million would be a fantastic price for Layún. But whether or not such a transfer would galvanise or excite fans is another matter entirely.

Should Arsenal sign Miguel Layún?

The fundamental question Arsenal and Emery need to ask themselves before signing a player like Layún is whether or not they essentially need him.

There’s no denying that the Mexican wouldn’t be arriving at the Emirates and expecting to start every week, but if could fill in as adequate cover at a decent price then it makes perfect sense.

However, Arsenal do have a fair amount of cover on either flank. On the right they have Hector Bellerin and he will be joined by the returning Carl Jenkinson and the recently-acquired Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus. And on the left they have Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal.

If anything, this squad has too many average defenders and certainly doesn’t need another one.

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