What Will Javier Manquillo Bring to Marseille’s Defense?

Under Marcelo Bielsa’s guidance, Olympique Marseille enjoyed an amazing start last season. Bielsa had been appointed as Marseille’s new manager back in May 2014 with the intent of building a new foundation at the club. The French side were even more ‘back in business’ due to the successful renovation of Marseille’s stadium. However, after a promising start, Bielsa’s side started to fall apart, and consequently missed out out on Champions League football. Nevertheless, the foundation is still standing strong, and Bielsa is set to bolster his squad in order to march on in the coming Ligue 1 campaign.

However, with the departure of key players like Giannelli Imbula, Dimitri Payet, Andre Ayew and Andre-Pierre Gignac, Bielsa faces a tough task ahead to continue his plans to secure a Champions League spot.

To keep his dream alive, Bielsa is expected to make some aggressive moves during the summer transfer window, although the owner of the club, Margarti Louis-Dreyfus, the widow of former owner and Swiss renowned entrepreneur Robert Louis-Dreyfus, is not willing to spend big in order to tempt possible targets. Hence, Marseille will have to search carefully and dig deep to find their beloved reinforcements.

Despite this, the board has found a way to fund the arrival of a handful of players. One of them is the Spanish full-back Javier Manquillo, who has joined to club on a one-year loan, with Les Phocéens having the option to make the move permanent at the end of the 2015-2016 season.

Back in 2007, Manquillo impressed enough to be scouted and signed by Real Madrid alongside his brother Victor. However, Victor decided to move to Atletico Madrid and as a result, Javier also made the switch to Los Rojiblancos.

Although Manquillo was part of the Spain under-19 squad that won the 2012 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, he rarely impressed his manager Diego Simeone, so he was sent out on loan to Liverpool last season. Surprisingly, after the Premier League season unfolded, Brendan Rodgers also lost faith in the Spanish youngster despite the fact that he did impress during Liverpool’s opening games.

Marseille were aware of that and the club were planning to make a move on him this summer, which they indeed did. Atletico Madrid remained keen on loaning him out again to let him play more minutes and grow as a player, so both parties were happy to conclude a deal as soon as possible. Nevertheless, Javier Manquillo will face heavy competition from Benjamin Mendy and Brice Dja Djedje at Marseille.

This, however, is something he is used to and clearly Manquillo does have a chance to become a regular starter because the 21-year-old is a perfect example of a modern day full-back, as he enjoys the attacking side of the game more than the defensive one.

He is a good dribbler and can whip in inviting crosses from the right-hand side. When you have someone like Batshuayi or Ocampos at the receiving end, Javier Manquillo could turn out to be a useful asset.

His defensive abilities have been brought into question a lot of times, especially his awareness when defending without the ball, but one can see him improve in this respect. Looking at his season at Liverpool, there have – of course – been instances when he had left the defense far too exposed, however he can patrol the right flank with efficiency and allowing him to gallop on that side of the pitch will help Marseille to exploit all the space available in attack.

Manquillo was not able to count on either Simeone or Rodgers, who both seem to have lost faith in him. However, with Bielsa as his manager, the future looks brighter than ever for Manquillo. As a matter of fact, the Argentinean manager has a reputation of bringing out the best of his players.

All in all, Javier Manquillo is an excellent prospect and has the potential to become a fantastic full-back. Moreover, because Marseille will feature in the Europa League, there will be more opportunities for the talented Spaniard to realize his potential. Manquillo lacks a bit of confidence, but Bielsa has the ability to give him just that.