Atlético Madrid right-back Javier Manquillo is reportedly set for a move to Arsenal, on an initial season-long loan. Manquillo was the subject on interest from Liverpool in January, but Diego Simeone cancelled the move.
Former Athletic Bilbao manager Marcelo Bielsa, now in charge of Marseille, appears to be Arsenal's main rival for Manquillo, however it appears that by including a £6.3 million future fee in the deal, the Gunners have moved into pole position to complete the transfer.
Who is Manquillo?
Javier Manquillo is a 20-year-old Spanish right-back, who has featured at every international youth level, from under-16s to under-20s, alongside the likes of Gerard Deulofeu, Jesé, and fellow Atlético players Óliver Torres and Saúl Ñíguez.
Although he prefers to play at right-back, Manquillo can fill in at left-back when necessary. He made his official debut in 2011, starting the Copa del Rey tie against minnows Albacete Balompié. At 5ft 10in he is decent in the air, winning an impressive 3.7 aerial duels per match last season.
Manquillo's exit makes little sense from an Atlético point of view. He was introduced to the first-team again last season, appearing in three La Liga games, and made his Champions League debut against Porto in the group stages.
At 20-years-old, the Spain under-20 international showed maturity, athleticism and drive in his brief cameos, making him an ideal squad member for Diego Simeone's Atlético squad.
Whilst first-team football is currently unattainable at Atléti, given Juanfran's form, the same can be said at Arsenal, where he would be understudy to Mathieu Debuchy, and Liverpool, where Glen Johnson is blocking his route to the first-team, not to mention Jon Flanagan who came on leaps and bounds last season.
At twenty-nine, Juanfran's career is reaching its peak, so it won't be too long before Manquillo can challenge for a first-team spot on a consistent basis. In the meantime, Manquillo would do well to study Juanfran's game, as they are comparable players, who shared a similar past, having been rejected by Real Madrid in their youth.
Juanfran was a model of consistency last season, displaying boundless energy and snap in the tackle. His lung-bursting runs forward were a feature of Atléti's play last season, whilst their defensive unit was one of the best in Europe.
Simeone took a risk last season in only using a core of around fifteen players all season. He won't be able to get away with doing the same next season, given Atlético are no longer a surprise package, so Manquillo would undoubtedly see more game time at Atlético, than he would at Arsenal, where he would only realistically play in the cup.
This move makes little sense for either Manquillo or Atlético. You could understand him moving to Marseille, in search of first-team football, but not another club where he isn't first-choice. Arsenal supporters won't be too worried, as they are getting a player with massive potential to provide cover for Debuchy.
In terms of a replacement, Toby Alderweireld is able to fill in at right-back, so Simeone could ignore the temptation to replace the youngster, and put the funds to use elsewhere.
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