Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Spanish Amada - How Are Manquillo And Moreno Fitting In



Who are they?


Let's start with Alberto Moreno Pérez. Born in the Spanish city of Seville. He grew up playing for his hometown team. Rising thought the ranks of Sevilla B, where he played in the third division of Spanish football. ( something that English and Scottish leagues should look at to develop young talent. But that a different article for a different day). He quickly progressed playing 49 games and scoring 8 goals. Moreno graduated from there to the main Sevilla team, making his first full La Liga debut at the end of the 2012 season. By the start of the 2013 he was a fixture in the starting Sevilla team. He made 45 appearances scoring 3 goals and grabbing a Europa League winners medal at the end of the 13-14 season. 

It's interesting to note that both Moreno and Javier "Javi" Manquillo Gaitán have risen to success at similar speed. Both played for teams from their home cities. Manquillo being from Madrid, started in Real's youth ranks with his twin brother, Victor. Victor, who was a forward, was released by Real. So both boys stuck together and decided to take their talents across the city to rivals Atletico. Both Moreno and Manquillo broke into senior football in 2011. Both played for the B team of the clubs they were at. Where the paths start to differ is at the A team level. While Moreno stood out in the Sevilla first team. Manquillo was a little more intermittent with his playing time. That was for two reasons. One was the neck injury sustained during an aerial challenge with Cristiano Ronaldo during a Copa Del Rey match against Real. The second reason was at 19 years old it pretty hard to break into a team that is challenging for both the La Liga crown and the Champions League trophy. Last season Manquillo made 6 appearances and scored no goals. Having said that he does have a couple more medals in his cabinet than Moreno. Those medals include the La Liga winners medal to go along with his Copa Del Rey Medal from the previous year. 

While we are chatting about medals both Manquillo and Moreno have won youth medals with Spain. U19 and U21 European championships respectively. 


How did they get to Liverpool?


Manquillo was brought in to the club on a two year loan deal, from Atletico Madrid with the option to buy after that time period. The loan fee is believed to be around 2m with his current market value (according to transfermarkt.com) of 6m. On arriving at Liverpool FC Manquillo was quoted as saying " I'm very happy to have signed for a club like Liverpool. I think it's one of the biggest in Europe. Any footballer would want to come and play here."


Moreno on the other hand is a £12m permanent signing from Sevilla. During the transfer window it was thought that the fee would be closer to £20m. Moreno signed a 5 year deal. He was seen crying while waving goodbye to the Sevilla fans, in Cardiff. He was scratched from the line up in the Super Cup as a result of his transfer. Even after his emotional goodbye he had this to say about his move to Merseyside. " Liverpool are the best club in England and I couldn't waste an opportunity to come and play for them."


So how are they fitting in?


Moreno has appeared in all but one of Liverpool's games this season. He has rapidly grasped his role within the team. After a shaky start against Man City he has went on to score against Tottenham and dominate Lukaku in the Derby. Where he needs to improve is his over lapping abilities. When Sterling is above him on the pitch on the left hand side, Sterling becomes very isolated. This makes it very easy for defenders to double team Sterling. If Moreno would over lap more this would cause the right back to respect Moreno's position and open running lanes for Raheem. Some other teething problems that look to have been fixed, was his ability to close down attackers when running at him. I think we can all agree this have been something that was worked on in training. The evidence is for all to see in the way he dominated Lukaku on the right wing. Fundamentally he was sounds and long my that continue. 

Manquillo has been fantastic is other ways. He has been helped by Glen Johnson's injury. This has afforded Manquillo time to bed into the system and show BR what the has to offer. What he has to offer are skills such as, incredible closing down speed and sensational crosses. Although at times he can be reluctant to push forward, but when he does he offers Liverpool something different. Due to the fact that he is hesitant to move further up the pitch it gives him a unique position to cross the ball from. He tends to whip the ball into great areas from being in a position much closer to the halfway line than the by-line. This brings a different angle on to which Balotelli can attack the ball from. The variety of angles on the right wing will be something to watch later in the season. It will be a real advantage against poorer defences. 


In all both players are of the high quality that Liverpool fans have come to expect. With highly reasonable transfer fees, their young age coupled with international experience and high football IQs many Liverpool fans are very excited. Why wouldn't you be. We just stumbled upon Spain's next two full backs! 


Alan Bruce


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