Friday, August 9, 2013

Manchester United Scouting Reports: Arturo Vidal

Juventus possesses one of the best set of midfielders in the world; the combination of Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, and Arturo Vidal almost always dominate their opposition, along with up and coming players who have equally bright futures like Paul Pogba and Luca Marrone. Such quality players are always wanted by other teams and some rumors suggest Manchester United may be interested in midfield dynamo Arturo Vidal as a solution to Manchester United's midfield woes as of late. Can he be the savior to United's midfield problems?

Performance from Last Season:

Arturo Vidal was integral to Juventus as they went on to dominate and win the Serie A for a second year running. His partnership with Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo allowed for Juventus to take control of and dominate matches. Particularly thanks to Vidal's limitless stamina and skill at playing the role of a box to box midfielder, Pirlo was allowed to have full freedom to dictate matches at will and set up majestic chances for his teammates to finish off, thus making Juventus dangerous at all times of the match. In the Serie A last year, Vidal made a total of 29 appearances, two of which came as a substitute. Over these league appearances, Vidal averaged 53.5 passes per game, completing about 87% of the passes he attempted, while completing 2.5 long balls per game, showing that he is able to both aid the team in holding onto the ball as well as being able to spread the play with ease. In comparison to his teammate Claudio Marchisio, Vidal attempts and completes more passes, though has 0.6 less successful long balls per game. He also had an average of 0.7 completed dribbles per game, while making 2 shots per game leading to 10 league goals and 8 assists. Along with his 8 assists, he averaged 2 key passes per game; all of the three previous statistics are higher than Marchisio's while Vidal averages 0.1 less shots per game, showing his ability to not only finish off chances that are given to him, he is able to easily create chances for others. An important thing to remember is that Vidal made his assists while having relatively poor strikers; Alessandro Matri, Mirko Vucinic, and Sebastian Giovinco aren't exactly the best in the world or bad, they are just good, but not Juventus good. With the likes of Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez joining the Bianconeri, expect Vidal's assist numbers to increase in the coming Serie A season.
 It is in his defending, however, that Vidal is truly able to shine. He averaged a ridiculous 4.9 tackles per game, putting him in tied second in the Serie A for tackles, below Matteo Darmian who is a center back. To put the tackling statistic into perspective, Vidal wins the ball back 4.9 times per game from tackles alone, while Manchester United's current midfield set of Michael Carrick, Anderson, Tom Cleverley, and Phil Jones win the ball at an overall average (tackles plus interceptions) of 4.4 times per game, 1.5 times per game, 2.4 times per game, and 3.5 times per game. This shows that Vidal is more than able to not only get forward and help create chances for his teammates and finish them, he is willing to get back and defend, aiding the backline and just dominating the midfield. In addition to his tackling abilities, Vidal makes 1.5 interceptions per game, displaying his abilities to read the game and get in the right positions to win the ball back. Amazingly, he only fouls a player 1.1 times per match, astounding when considering how often he is likely to commit a tackle, highlighting his ability to know when and where to tackle as well as his immaculate ability while doing so. He is dispossessed once per match and turns the ball over once per match as well, both fairly low numbers. Add in the fact that he is only the age of 26 and one will realize how much better he can still become.

How Would He Fit In?

If Vidal were to join Manchester United, he would simply slot in right next to Carrick in the heart of the midfield. While Carrick would be allowed to sit back and control the midfield by passing the ball around, launching long balls and essentially making sure the ball never stops moving when United is in possession, Vidal would be charged with simply bombarding up and down the pitch, aiding in both the attacking and defensive side of the game. He will be able to push up and help the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and Shinji Kagawa by providing an extra threat to the opposition as he is not only able to create chances, but also finish them. In being able to do so, the opposition will have an extra person to worry about, causing confusion and chaos deep in their territory. His presence will either be noticed and leave someone else from the United frontline to go unnoticed and get into a good position, or he will go completely unnoticed, allowing him to sneak in behind the opposition and get a goal himself. This will be integral as it will allow Manchester United to score many more goals from both the forwards as well as from the midfield, an area of the pitch from which the team has not had a source of goals since the days of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, both of whom could score goals. More important in Vidal's game is his ability to aid the team greatly when defending, thus helping the defense by adding some much needed grit and steel in the midfield. For far too long has the United midfield been easily cut through by the opposition, allowing them to get directly to the defense. The combination of Vidal and Carrick will hassle and harry the opposition players into giving the ball away much more often, causing United to have a hold on the ball for extended periods of matches. Vidal will prevent United's midfield from being overrun as he is more than able to take up the role of creator and push the game by moving forward with the ball while also passing it around. His ability to make fantastic recovery runs and then still put in a picture-perfect tackle will allow the United forwards and Michael Carrick to play with much more creative freedom, thus making the team play more beautiful football with the knowledge that the ball is going to eventually come back. Overall, Vidal would provide Manchester United with the dynamic box to box threat that the team has been lacking for a while.

The Key Problem:

There does not appear to be any problem for the team should Arturo Vidal join the club, but that is exactly the problem: how would Manchester United be able to convince Juventus to let Vidal join a rival for the Champions League, potentially giving another a vital part of their midfield while at the same time giving United what could be the last piece of the puzzle? While he is reported to be worth 31 million pounds, Juventus will most certainly ask much more money for one of their most influential players. He provides both vital attacking and defensive skills for the team at all times, thus making him central to the starting eleven. If United were going to buy him, it would be for an audacious amount of money and there would still be questions over whether or not he would actually want to go to United. Vidal is also only at the age of 26, with his prime still ahead of him, and only seeming to get better with every single season, so why should the Bianconeri management let him go? Sure, Paul Pogba is rising through the ranks and holds incredible promise, but he is not ready to fully take over the role that Vidal held at the club. Pogba will slowly and steadily get more and more playing time over the coming seasons as he takes over the role of Claudio Marchisio, while Pirlo will slowly approach retirement, no matter how ageless he may appear, Vidal will prove to be an important constant in the Juventus midfield, and if he were to leave the club, it would be either because Juventus were offered ludicrous amounts of money or because the Bianconeri management has simply lost it. To put it simply, it is very very unlikely that Juventus will sell Vidal at any price.

The Solution to the Problem?

If Manchester United were to somehow pull off a coup and somehow sign Arturo Vidal, it will be a massive gain for the club. He will provide the powerful, dynamic, box to box presence the club has been lacking for several years now, giving both a threat at goal while also being absolute quality in defending, thereby letting United control matches with ease, leading to goals galore. But it is highly unlikely that Vidal would be sold by Juventus, with the team likely to ask for much more than his reported cost of 31 million pounds, especially as he is at the age of 26 and ready to give his best years for the club. Manchester United would be greatly aided by his potential arrival, but he should have been bought back in 2011 when Juventus acquired his services at only 17.5 million pounds from Bayer Leverkusen. Overall, the perfect addition to the United midfield, though highly unlikely.

Likelihood: 2/10
Impact: 10/10