Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Manchester United Scouting Reports: Claudio Marchisio

Juventus have won the Serie A for two seasons in a row now, a huge turnaround for the club sparked by the arrivals of both Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo, giving the midfield a huge boost and improvement. They also have their future secured with the likes of Luka Marrone and Paul Pogba waiting in the wings, with Pogba especially taking his chance and becoming at least somewhat regular in the first team. While Pogba would have likely prevented Manchester United's current midfield problems from cropping up, reports suggest United are interested in a part of Juventus' MVP midfield: Claudio Marchisio. If he were to join United, how would he fit in? Could he be the solution to United's midfield hole?

Performance from Last Season:

Over the last season, Marchisio has been an important part of the Juventus midfield as the Bianconeri won the Serie A once again, for the second year in a row, though not repeating their "invincibles" performance from the season before. Marchisio made a midfield triumvirate with the likes of Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo, aiding Juventus in controlling proceedings in the matches that they played in. In the Champions League, Marchisio was important as Juventus reached the quarter-finals before losing to a masterclass by Bayern Munich. Throughout the season, however, he saw playing time slowly being chipped away as Paul Pogba slowly gained more and more playing time, looking to try and take his place. Nonetheless, over his 28 Serie A appearances, one of which came as a substitute, Marchisio averaged 42.6 passes per game, with 83.8% of his passes reaching their intended target, a pass completion number which is substantially less than that of Tom Cleverley. Nonetheless, he also completes an average of 3.1 long balls per game, showing his vision as well as his technical skill to pull off such a variety of passes with such consistency. In addition to this, he also made an average of 1.2 key passes per game, once again demonstrating his vision and his ability to create chances for his teammates, though he only had 1 league assist. While Juventus may be a top tier team, they have had notable striker issues therefore causing the chances that Marchisio would create for his teammates to be wasted. This issue has been resolved by the purchases of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, which should mean that Marchisio's assist numbers are likely to go up in the following season. He also can carry the ball forwards better than United's current midfielders at a rate of 0.8 dribbles per game, showing his ability to stamp his mark on the game. In addition to his passing abilities, he can provide a goal threat, as he took 2.1 shots per game, resulting in 6 league goals over the past season. Not only does he have good offensive qualities, it is in defending that he truly shines. He averages 2.7 tackles per game, a number higher than all of Manchester United's current midfielders as well as making 1.5 interceptions per game, another number that would put him towards the top of Manchester United midfielders. He does, however, commit 1.8 fouls per game but is only dispossessed once per game and turns the ball over 0.9 times per game, showing his abilities to simply hold onto the ball when necessary. His high defensive workrate, along with that of Arturo Vidal's allowed Andrea Pirlo to work his magic and take Juventus to the Serie A title.

How Would He Fit In?

Should Marchisio join Manchester United, he will surely partner Michael Carrick in the center of the park. Carrick's play largely involves him sitting back and protecting the defense while also orchestrating United's attacks from a deeper position. To be most effective, Carrick requires a box to box midfielder, or one who is strong and able to dominate in order to prevent United from playing too deep, a problem that would frequently crop up when both Carrick and Scholes would play in the same team. Marchisio possesses a fantastic engine which will allow him to move up and down, preventing Manchester United's attacks from stagnating by injecting both pace and energy into the team. His high defensive workrate also allows United's forwards in the form of Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, and Robin van Persie to have much more freedom and not worry as much about their defensive duties, only bettering the United attack with much more creativity and willingness to play freely. Furthermore, his box to box abilities will provide Manchester United with an additional threat when the team chooses to attack, giving opposition defenses an extra person to worry about, allowing at least one of United's players to be left free and available to receive a pass, slicing open defenses and leading to chances or even a goal. His ability to get into a good position to score a goal also will give United's midfield the much needed introduction of goals coming from the midfield, an aspect that has been lacking since the departure of both Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, both of whom were able to rush into the opposition box at the right moment in order to get a goal for themselves. In addition, his ability to pick out a key pass will create more chances for van Persie, Rooney, and Kagawa, leading to more goals and much more beautiful play from the team. His defensive capabilities will aid United in ensuring that fewer goals will be conceded from very quick counter attacks, a problem which was prevalent in the United team in the previous season, particularly in the 3-2 loss to Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford where the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon tore into the lack of pace and people at the United backline. Adding Marchisio will provide that extra defensive presence and only further aid in shoring up the defense, leading to less goals conceded and more goals scored. Overall, the potential transfer of Claudio Marchisio will greatly aid United in the coming seasons.

The Key Problem:

There are several potential problems coming out of the transfer of Claudio Marchisio. Firstly, Marchisio is at the age of 27, meaning that he is already in his prime and likely playing his best football right now. Conversely, his all action style of play cannot be held up for much longer; as he begins to age, his legs will certainly slow down, and he won't be able to provide the impact that he will in his first couple of seasons. That is a large problem especially considering that his play is especially dependent on his ability to work hard in both attacking as well as defending. Secondly, while he is certainly able to thread the through passes and create opportunities for his teammates, his passing accuracy and consistency is not as high as it can possibly be. He does not make too many passes and even then, he tends to give the ball away somewhat frequently. As a result, while his turnover rates are low enough, his passes do not reach his teammates often enough. Against good opposition like Bayern Munich, this is simply asking for trouble as Marchisio himself found out first hand while Juventus were systematically dismantled over two legs 4-0 on aggregate. Lastly, why would Marchisio wish to leave Juventus at all? He has been at the club since he was a little boy and is part of one of the greatest Italian clubs. A possibility of a transfer seems truly off as he is a Bianconeri at heart and he will never leave the club, likely not even at the possibility of huge amounts of money.

The Ideal Signing?

Should Manchester United acquire the services of Claudio Marchisio, it will represent a massive gain for the team in the present as he will prove to be integral in the midfield should he join as his engine will mean that he is able to contribute in both attack and defense. It will allow for United to dominate matches and truly prevent opposition teams from getting a true chance at the United goal. However, worries are there regarding his age; while he may be in his prime, his all action style of play cannot be held up for too many season, eventually leading to the same problem arising all over again. There are also worries about his passing completion percentage as well as his overall desire to leave Juventus in the first place, but nonetheless, he will prove to be absolute quality if signed by the club. His reported price at 27.5 million pounds is certainly less than Juventus are going to ask for should United attempt to sign him, yet if he is signed, he will prove to be an integral part of the United team in years to come.

Likelihood: 4/10
Impact: 9/10