Scouting Report: Why Are Liverpool Targeting Villarreal's Mateo Musacchio?

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Scouting Report: Why Are Liverpool Targeting Villarreal's Mateo Musacchio?
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Liverpool are aiming to sign Villarreal centre-back Mateo Musacchio in the summer transfer window, per talkSPORT, so here is a scouting report on Musacchio, a 23-year-old Argentine international.

 

Bosman Eligibility Confusion

The key sentence in talkSPORT's report is "The Argentine centre-back [Musacchio] is out of contract at the end of the season and would be available on a free [transfer]." But talkSPORT published a January transfer spotlight article on Musacchio, which stated that his contract did not expire until 2018. 

Villarreal president Fernando Roig revealed Musacchio would stay at the club for an additional four years.

"Musacchio has a contract until 2018," Roig said, per Francisco Acedo at Sky Sports. "If he is wanted, then for Villarreal it is fine, but only if the money is paid up front."

There is enough doubt to approach Roig's claim with scepticism, as the Villarreal website (English and Spanish) does not have a single press release announcing Musacchio extending his contract until 2018. 

Source: Villarrealcf.es

According to TransfermarktMusacchio's contract expires in 2014.

Various football journalists, writers and news sources have tweeted about Musacchio being available on a free transfer in the summer. 

Is it possible Roig could be doing a John W. Henry?

What does that mean?

When Arsenal lodged a £40 million-plus-£1 bid to trigger a clause in Luis Suarez's contract, Henry tweeted, "What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?"

In reality, it was a facade by Henry, as if to say, "What clause?"

This was further strengthened by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers questioning Arsenal's sources.

"I can only say it was one of the worst pieces of information they [Arsenal] ever received," Rodgers said, per Ben Rumsby and John Percy at The Telegraph. "To be honest, we laughed."

Then, James Pearce at the Liverpool Echo clarified the situation: "The Echo understands that reports in Spain that Suarez has a £40 million buy-out clause in his contract are incorrect."

Two months after Suarez contractually committed his long-term future to Liverpool, per Liverpool's official websiteHenry revealed he had bluffed his way through Arsenal's pursuit of Suarez

"Arsenal offered £40 million and one pound for him [Suarez] and triggered his buy-out clause," Henry said, per BBC Sport. "These contracts don't seem to hold [so] we took the position we're just not selling."

Why would Roig need to lie? He could be buying time like Henry. 

Or Roig isn't being insincere and Musacchio has pledged his future to Villarreal management in word only, per a tweet by Bleacher Report La Liga featured columnist Tre Atkinson:

If Musacchio cannot exercise his Bosman rights and a club does not sign him on a free transfer in the upcoming summer window, that would be a game changer.

That would hinder Liverpool's chances of signing him. But why are the Reds interested in him anyway?

 

Positives

Musacchio, who is 6'0" (the same height as Paris Saint-Germain's Thiago Silva), might not have the 6'3" height of a prototypical centre-back, but he compensates with athleticism, controlled aggression and an intuitive ability in winning back the ball.

One play summed up who Musacchio is when Valencia centre-back Jeremy Mathieu had a clear look and thought he was about to test Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.

Musacchio came charging in to block Mathieu's shot. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com

Musacchio is a more prolific ball-winner than Liverpool centre-backs Daniel Agger, Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel.

League Only Tackles Tackles Per Game Interceptions Interceptions Per Game Fouls Per Game
           
Agger 21 1.3 15 0.9 0.6
Musacchio 65 2.5 91 3.5 1.0
Sakho  22 1.7 25 1.9 0.5
Skrtel 35 1.3 47 1.7 0.8
Toure 33 1.7 15 0.8 0.6
           

Musacchio has made more tackles (65) than Skrtel (35) and Agger (21) combined (56). 

In terms of interceptions, there is no comparison. Even if you doubled Skrtel's interceptions per game, the number is still lower than Musacchio's (3.5). 

Musacchio is a natural interceptor, having cut off seven passes in a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid, per Squawka.

Source: Squawka.com

Since 2014, Musacchio has accumulated 30 interceptions, per Squawka.com, which equals Agger's and Toure's output this entire season combined. 

Source: Squawka.com

Despite being such an assertive, up-tempo and proactive defender, Musacchio concedes only one free-kick per game and has picked up two yellow cards in league play so far, proving how in control of his tackling he is. 

Musacchio lines up as a right-sided centre-back, so, in theory, he will be pushing Martin Skrtel, who has scored three own goals this season, for a starting position. 

Source: Whoscored.com

 

Negatives

Musacchio commits some peculiar mistakes, raising questions about his concentration levels. 

In Villarreal's 2-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao, Musacchio shanked his clearance, which fell into the path of Bilbao centre-forward Aritz Aduriz.

Source: LigaBBVA.com

When Getafe beat Villarreal 2-0, Musacchio was involved in a comical mix-up with Asenjo, the goalkeeper.

Musacchio went against his instincts in making a routine clearance, presumably when he saw Asenjo moving toward the ball.

But instead of shielding the ball, Musacchio moved out the way. Asenjo slipped on the ball, allowing Getafe centre-forward Ciprian Marica to capitalize. 

If Musacchio had protected the ball, which was the natural thing to do, he would have bailed out Asenjo.

Source: LigaBBVA.com

Musacchio's marking is lax at times.

He was out of position when Almeria centre-forward Rodri, a one-dimensional goal poacher, latched on to a pass from right-back Rafita to score in a 3-2 defeat to Villarreal.

Source: LigaBBVA.com

Musacchio gave Valencia left-attacking midfielder Fede time and space, and he turned Musacchio inside-out. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com

 

Bottom Line

Musacchio is on his way to the top, and if he can iron out his tendency to switch off, he can reach Silva's greatness. 

Musacchio is one of the best defenders in La Liga, so the fact that Liverpool and other major clubs are targeting him is normal. 

If his contract does not expire at the end of the season, Liverpool will face a difficult task in securing his signature.

Villarreal will demand a hefty transfer fee for Musacchio and may point to PSG paying Roma £27 million for Marquinhos, per BBC Sport

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored

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