Guardado's Playing Style
If presented the opportunity, Guardado can still whip in incisive crosses, as Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Ricardo Costa will attest to (both have been beneficiaries of Guardado crosses in recent memory).
Leverkusen's 6'3" centre-forward, Stefan Kiessling, will be an aerial target for Guardado.
That said, Guardado has been a pure left-back under current manager Juan Antonio Pizzi and former Valencia manager Miroslav Djukic this season.
There is a clear difference in playing style between Valencia's two left-backs: Guardado and Juan Bernat.
The latter is cavalier-like racing up-field, while Guardado is more reserved in his approach, hence why he averages 0.3 shots and 0.8 chances created per league game.
This shows you how disciplined he is given he operates in a more attack-minded role for Mexico.
What was Leverkusen's No. 1 transfer need heading into this window? Left-back.
Left-Back Need Finally Addressed
Leverkusen are second in the Bundesliga table behind Bayern Munich and have conceded the second least amount of league goals, but instead of resting on their laurels, the Werkself have answered their problems at left-back by signing Guardado.
Sebastian Boenisch, a burly 6'3" Polish international, has started 13 league games this season, but has been the weak link in manager Sami Hyypia's back four.
Boenisch is the worst rated Leverkusen player, per Bild (in German), and he often forgets the "back" in left-back.
During Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Manchester United, Antonio Valencia exploited his advantageous matchup against Boenisch, scoring and creating a goal.
Going forward, whenever Boenisch is within sight of the goal, he seems to think he is Robert Lewandowski, though the 22 percent shooting accuracy would suggest otherwise.
Hyypia has even gone to the lengths of playing former Bayern Munich midfielder Emre Can out of position at left-back as an alternative to Boenisch.
Aside from it being weird seeing a left-back wear the No. 10 shirt, Can should be dictating the tempo of play, not marking right-sided wingers. His future lies in midfield as opposed to left-back.
Here are three lessons learned from Guardado's arrival at Leverkusen:
- It is an indictment on Boenisch's performances this season.
- Can's duties of filling in at left-back are over.
- Konstantinos Stafylidis, a 20-year-old Greek international left-back, who has yet to start a league game this season, should call up his agent and force a move away from the club. Clearly he is not rated by Leverkusen management.
Guardado is a smart acquisition from Leverkusen management, and there is so much to like about this signing:
- He addresses their weakness at left-back.
- It is a loan deal, so if he flops, Leverkusen can dump him.
- Yet if he succeeds, Leverkusen can exercise a clause in his deal to buy him, per the Leverkusen club website: "Bayer 04 have the option to buy Guardado."
- When Guardado played as a winger at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, the technical study group pinpointed him as one of Mexico's key players, per FIFA TSG: "Hard-working midfielder with good range of passes; skillful and very energetic."
- Therefore he is a high-quality option as a left-forward if Heung-Min Son suffers an injury.
- Guardado brings vast experience having played 99 international games for Mexico.
Guardado will be a transfer steal should he develop into one of the best left-backs in the league.