*insert favourite Mata pun here*
Before I begin, it’s nice to be back in surprisingly sunny England.
I was in Italy for five days on a school residential, but it’s genuinely good to be back. I’ve caught up on all of the news – Gervinho’s debut double, JET’s sale, the coming of Aguero, and of course the many rumours surrounding this club. Speculation continues to surround the futures of Fabregas and Nasri, while Kyle Bartley and Henri Lansbury are also apparently close to the exit door. It also appears that Nicklas Bendtner is on the verge of joining Sporting Lisbon – and not Borussia Dortmund. *in-post update: apparently not Sporting Lisbon either*
But one rumour in particular caught my eye, and it’s one that seems to be picking up more and more pace. The link between us and Juan Mata refuses to go away, just like the stray dog who followed us around Pompeii (we named him Baxter), and the talk seems to be becoming more and more concrete. An increasing number of outlets are reporting it, so it’s perhaps one to keep an eye out for.
Numerous places are insisting cogs are turning, and that we’re locked in talks with Valencia for Mata. The prices range from £13.5 million (!!!) and £20 million. The latter would be a lot more accurate, considering he’s an absolutely wonderful player in contract until 2015. He had been somewhat in the shadow of the David duo of Silva and Villa at the Mestalla for a few seasons, but he’s well and truly emerged as a top player.
People have been suggesting that we’ll sign Mata, Cesc will leave, Nasri will move into the central midfield role, with Mata taking his place. I’ve made it clear on many occasions that I’m not too pleased with Nasri in Cesc’s position – he’s not exactly set the world alight when playing there for us, and his best positions have certainly come from the right. I’d rather we played Mata in Cesc’s position – although not with the same demands of the role – with Walcott on the left and Nasri on the right.
The reasons being that Walcott is best cutting in on his right foot – on the right wing he’s far too often forced wide onto his right, and he can’t go past his man because he’s run out of wide space to run into. If he was on the left, he could cut in as much as he wanted. His assist for RVP at Blackburn after his Croatian hat-trick = exhibit A. He would be able to swap around with Nasri every now and then to confuse the opposition or in case he wasn’t getting much joy on the left too.
Nasri’s best performances last season were on the right – against Fulham, Manchester City and so on – while his weaker games were when he was playing on the left. Mata is comfortable on the wing and centrally, and I think he’d do well in the centre – although we haven’t seen him in our system like with Nasri.
Recently “inverted wingers” or whatever they’re being called have become popular – this being managers playing right-footed wingers on the left and vice versa. However, Sir Alex Ferguson has not stuck to this trend*, and has mainly played left footers on the left, and right footers on the right. The reason for this is because he still likes his wingers to get crosses into the box, and playing them on the sides that he does allows them to do so.
The reason I’ve brought this up is because I think it relates to my argument about Walcott on the left and Nasri on the right. They’re both right footed, but Nasri is stronger on his left, so wouldn’t be bombing down the wing all the time, with his only option to cross. That would be more like Walcott, and putting him on the left would mean he wouldn’t cross as much, and perhaps Nasri would send in more crosses than usual, but we wouldn’t want to absolve it completely from our game.
I hope I haven’t rambled too much, although I probably have. Here’s hoping we hear some more developments on Mata, and aren’t disappointed. Ciao!
*the linked article is where I got the whole idea about Walcott and Nasri