With recent reports suggesting Arsenal are about to finalise a loan deal for Javier Manquillo, Arsene Wenger might just be about to unearth yet another superstar.
Javier started his career in Real Madrid’s youth ranks before being released by the Champions League winners in 2007. 48 hours later, the Spaniard signed for Atlético Madrid, and has been with the La Liga champions ever since.
A staple of the Atlético B side, the Spaniard made 42 appearances for the Segunda División B side in the 2012/13 season, and his positive performances for his club’s reserve side have earned him 6 appearances for Atlético’s first team since 2012. Although Javier hasn’t been exposed to first team football very often, the 20-year-old has plenty of time to adapt and improve his game in order to compete at the highest level.
Manquillo plays as a right-back, and is right-footed as you would expect. His main strength is his blistering pace which he uses to bomb into space in the attacking third and quickly get back into position when he loses possession further up the pitch. His pace filters through into every aspect of his game and is the centrepiece of his skill set.
When tackling, Javier likes to sprint into challenges and steal the ball from his opponents using clever toe-pokes and standing tackles. However, the 20-year-old’s tackles aren’t always successful, and his tendency to rush into challenges allows attackers to slip past him too easily at times. His pace does although him to correct these errors, but I doubt he’d be able to do the same against higher level opposition.
But don’t be fooled into thinking Javier is a poor defender. He possesses a lot of attractive qualities that help him keep the opposition at bay. His enthusiastic tackling technique is very successful when his teammates press alongside him, with attackers becoming overrun and forced to retreat or forfeit possession. If Arsenal were on the front foot against lesser opponents, Javier’s style would help us win the ball back higher up the pitch – forcing opponents into making mistakes.
At 5’11”, Manquillo is capable of winning the majority of aerial duels that he finds himself involved in, and he can apply both power and accuracy to clearances. However, he isn’t quite a strong as Carl Jenkinson, a comparably inexperienced defender, and therefore may struggle to hold his own when battling experienced players in the Premier League – something which even Jenko struggles with occasionally.
In terms of attacking capabilities – he has the intent but not the ability. The Spaniard certainly seems keen to progress up the pitch and link up with his teammates, but his technique can let him down at times and cause him to lose possession. In his 4 appearances for Atlético Madrid last season, his average passing accuracy was 72%. To put this into perspective, Atlético’s first choice right-back, Juanfran, registered an average passing accuracy of 80% from his 47 appearances last season. Although it is perhaps unfair to compare Javier to an experienced player, we make the same comparisons with Arsenal youngsters all the time – and they match the stats of senior players more often than not. Manquillo’s crossing ability isn’t too good either, and he often struggles to deliver the killer final ball that is expected of full-backs these days.
Javier Manquillo certainly has potential, but whether or not he would be able to fulfil it in the toughest league in the world isn’t clear. Although his refreshing defensive style and lightning pace would suit Arsenal’s style – frequent lapses in concentration and inconsistent passing may cause the 20-year-old to become a frustration to watch rather than a delight. However, a loan deal would give Arsene Wenger a year to work with the player and decide for himself whether or not he could improve aspects of Javier’s game. For that reason, Javier Manquillo is definitely one to watch next season.