I wasn’t planning to write a piece on Liverpool’s new loan signing Javier Manquillo, simply because there is very little available data. The 20-year-old has only made sixteen appearances for Atletico Madrid’s first team, and seven of those were in the Copa del Rey (for which there are no detailed stats).
However, when having a look at his numbers from the nine games I could get information for, I found one particularly eye-catching stat that perhaps explains Liverpool’s interest in the young Spaniard.
Let’s get a few uninspiring numbers out-of-the-way first though. Manquillo had just four shots in his nine league and European games, and none of them troubled the opposition goalkeeper; two from the right of the penalty box were off target, and the two from outside the area were both blocked.
He also doesn’t appear to dribble past opponents too often either. By doing so every 123 minutes, the Spaniard equals the output of Jon Flanagan last season (once every 126 minutes) but is a long way shy of his new right-back rival Glen Johnson, who went past a player every fifty-five minutes in the 2013/14 Premier League.
Perhaps this inability to beat an opponent too often is why he has only found a teammate with one of his twenty-four attempted crosses so far, as they may not be from the best locations, though as the Reds cross less often than every other team in the English top flight, this doesn’t particularly concern me.
Manquillo created just five chances across these nine games, picking up one assist in the process, and as his chances were worth 0.4 expected assists using my chance quality system, it was to be expected that he wouldn’t rack up many assists. Let’s not forget that these are all attacking metrics, and as a right back defending is very important, so it’s good to note that he fares better here.
I’ve noted previously (in my analysis of Alberto Moreno) that interceptions are more common in La Liga than they are in England, and Manquillo is possibly also a beneficiary of that trend.
His ball recovery frequency is also fairly similar to Moreno’s; notice below though how Manquillo’s regains are higher up the pitch on average than some recent full back options at Liverpool, which will likely appeal to Brendan Rodgers.
Now for a look at Manquillo’s very impressive qualities. Jon Flanagan made the joint-most tackles per game of any full back in the Premier League last season (and the joint-third most overall), at a rate of one every twenty-four minutes, and in these nine games Manquillo was only a shade behind, at one every twenty-eight.
I haven’t done any research into where on the pitch tackles occur, but it impressed me that Liverpool’s latest loanee made five in the final third, including one in the opposition penalty box during his league debut when his team were already 6-0 up! If he can bring that kind of commitment to Anfield then I’m sure the locals will swiftly take to him.
Manquillo was only dribbled past once in these games, which compares favourably to his new colleagues, though it was in his own penalty box as we can see here, so it may have proved costly.
He’s also yet to commit an on-ball defensive error, and I recently wrote how Liverpool were the most error-prone team in the Premier League last season, so this is another tick for Manquillo.
To finish, the aforementioned ‘golden stat’ which really piqued my interest when researching Manquillo’s numbers purely to satisfy my own curiosity. Ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Manchester United in March, I wrote this piece about how the Reds struggle to deal with crosses, and that the problem is exacerbated by their failure to block opposition crosses very often. Take a look at this.
The young Spaniard seems to block crosses for fun. If we discount Cissokho (as he has left the club) and Kelly (due to his small sample), then Manquillo could fail to block a cross in his next seventeen games and still be ahead of Lucas Leiva in this table.
The Atletí man blocked at least one cross in eight of his nine matches, and on one occasion blocked three; the whole Liverpool team only averaged 2.7 per game in 2013/14, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this ability registered on the Reds’ transfer committee radar.
Unfortunately I have to collate these figures manually game-by-game, so perhaps Liverpool aren’t as bad at this as I think, or perhaps blocking crosses is more common in Spain much like interceptions are. It could also be down to tactical choices by the managers, Rodgers and Simeone.
The samples here are also too small to draw anything concrete from, and it’s important to remember that Manquillo only turned twenty years old in May. But the figures here suggest at least that he is capable of frequently tackling and intercepting, recovering the ball high up the pitch, and particularly good at blocking opposition crosses. As fellow new signing Dejan Lovren doesn’t win aerial duels in the box too often, this skill could prove crucial to Liverpool’s defensive solidity in 2014/15.