Chelsea's Sevilla loanee, Marko Marin, wants to extend his temporary stay at the La Liga club into a permanent one, per Estadio Deportivo (h/t Sky Sports). So here is a scouting report on the 25-year-old German international's season at Sevilla thus far.
Marin's Identity Crisis
Marin's playing style revolves around explosive bursts, elongated dribbles and sidestepping tackles, which open up opposing defences.
Sevilla manager Unai Emery has predominantly played Marin as a deep-lying forward in a 4-4-2 or a central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1.
If you are a Bundesliga aficionado, you will know that Emery is emulating former Werder Bremen manager Thomas Schaaf's ill-fated tactical ploy in moving Marin, a winger, centrally.
It was the 2011-12 Bundesliga season and Schaaf developed tunnel vision in setting the team up to make Marin be Mesut Ozil-like, which, in turn, would be Schaaf's "look-at-me" moment.
In a 4-1-2-1-2 formation, Schaaf had a triumvirate of midfielders to compliment Marin:
- Philipp Bargfrede, a pure ball-winner, who accumulated 103 tackles and intercepted 102 passes that season.
- Clemens Fritz, the German James Milner, a versatile and selfless footballer willing to do the grunt-work.
- Aaron Hunt, an all-round player, who could create his own shot and was ironically a better incisive passer (2.7 key passes per game; pass that leads to a shot) than Marin, the No. 10 (1.9 key passes per game).
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Marin was one of the Bundesliga's most dangerous wingers, consistently getting past the full-back, forcing the centre-back to come forward and then playing in a wide-open teammate, who would take up the vacant position left by the centre-back.
It was a simple but effective mode of operation that netted Marin easy assists.
But his key passes per game was never at a world-class standard since he did not have the foresight of an Ozil to consistently create shots for teammates.
Schaaf inexplicably persisted with Marin as the focal point of the team, despite him being unable to consistently conjure up assists.
He rapidly lost confidence, which is evident when he made 23 passes in 74 minutes during Werder's 4-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in 2011.
Not only did Schaaf force Marin into a new position, but the winger-turned-playmaker was burdened with the expectation of carrying the team.
If you are asked to pinpoint one decision that precipitated Marin's fall from grace, it would be him collapsing under the pressure when given the keys to the team by Schaaf, which was exacerbated by an injury-riddled campaign.
Now that is the context behind Emery making the bold choice to play Marin centrally. Even in games where you think he has played substantial parts out wide, when you look at his average positioning, it is central.
Marin's start to his debut Chelsea season was hindered by a hamstring injury, per PremierLeague.com, a problem which has plagued the German's career and threatens to take away his best asset: pace.
His early impressions for Sevilla were positive, specifically in a 3-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid.
His dribbling opened up space for Diego Perotti, who received a layoff and proceeded to unleash a rocket-like shot past Atletico Madrid's Chelsea loanee, Thibaut Courtois.
Marin was a constant threat to Atleti, jinking past right-back Juanfran , cutting in and forcing Courtois into a good save.
In another play, Marin dragged several Atleti players out of position and played in Sevilla right winger Vitolo, who muffed his shot.
Marin was so confident that he wanted to replicate Perotti's goal by taking a shot from miles out, which again was denied by Courtois.
Marin finished the game with an assist, was second in dribbles (four; one behind Perotti) and had the most shots on target for Sevilla (two).
After his first four combined La Liga and UEFA Europa League games for Sevilla, Marin had three assists (one vs. Atleti, two vs. Estoril).
In the Europa League game against Estoril, Marin completed eight of 11 dribbles, per Squawka, drawing comparisons to Barcelona deep-lying forward Lionel Messi.
"People love me in Spain," Marin said, per Hannah Duncan at the Metro. "I've already been likened to [Lionel] Messi."
Then came another hamstring injury, per Tom Conn at InsideSpanishFootball.com, which meant Marin was back to square one.
Since then, he has been trying to recover his early form for Sevilla.
Minus the odd moment of brilliance like a pin-point cross to Sevilla central midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who scored a stoppage-time winner in a 2-1 victory over Almeria, Marin's form has been erratic (no goals, one assists in his last 10 La Liga/Europa League games).
If Marin had been healthy every game for Sevilla, he may have been a breakout La Liga star considering his elite early form.
What Chelsea Should Do With Marin
Marin's transfer value has not increased exponentially as his season has been hamstrung.
Chelsea should roll the dice and loan Marin out next season hoping he stays fully fit.
The end game for Chelsea is to find a suitor willing to put up substantial money for Marin, a la Wolfsburg spending €20 [£16.7] million on Kevin De Bruyne, per the Guardian.
Statistics via WhoScored