Arsenal

Is Bruno Ecuele Manga Arsenal's Kostas Manolas Transfer Alternative?

Monaco's Emmanuel Riviere of France, left, challenges for the ball with Lorient's Bruno Ecuele Manga of Gabon during their French League One soccer match, in Monaco stadium, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press
Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentAugust 25, 2014

If Arsenal fail to sign Olympiakos centre-back Kostas Manolas, could Lorient's Bruno Ecuele Manga be a summer transfer window alternative?

Manolas is Roma's next primary transfer, per Football Italia.

To cover the hypothetical scenario of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger targeting Manga, here is a scouting report on the 26-year-old, 6'1", 168-pound Gabonese international. 

 

Manga Positives

Manga is one of the most underrated players in Europe.

Coming to Lorient goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet's rescue, Manga's last-ditch block stopped then-Paris Saint-Germain (now AC Milan) left-forward Jeremy Menez from scoring.

Manga is an outstanding ball-winner

Over the last five seasonsManga has tallied up 241 tackles and 307 interceptions.

Manga completed 69 percent of his tackles last season, per Squawka, which was 5 percent higher than Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Thiago Silva (64), per Squawka.

Credit: Squawka.com

Last season, Manga's tackles per game, tackle success percentage and headers won per game were superior to Arsenal's current centre-backs.

League Only 2013-14Bruno Ecuele MangaCalum Chambers [1]Laurent KoscielnyPer Mertesacker
Tackles Per Game2.32.01.71.2
Fouls Per Game0.81.00.90.3
Tackles Per Foul3.02.11.83.4
Interceptions Per Game2.61.72.81.7
Tackle Success %69615748
Headers Won Per Game4.21.91.72.8

[1] Interchanged with Nathaniel Clyne for Southampton's right-back slot.


League OnlyBruno Ecuele Manga 2013-14Laurent Koscielny 2009-10
Passes Per Game35.527.1
Pass Success %78.774.9
Long Passes Per Game3.42.1
Long Pass Success %57.451.4

Manga's pass-completion percentage has hovered between 78.7 and 87.3 in the last five seasons. 

He is a more refined passer than Koscielny was for Lorient during the 2009-10 season. 

The long pass to then-Lorient (now Umm Salal) centre-forward Jeremie Aliadiere shows Manga can be a viable passing outlet from the back. 

 

Manga Negatives

Manga's constant switching from Silva-level defending to David Luiz-esque mistakes is why no top European club has taken a calculated risk on him.

A step behind play, Manga failed to close down Lille central midfielder Jonathan Delaplace. 

Out of position, Manga clumsily clipped then-Ajaccio (now Montpellier) right attacking midfielder Paul Lasne to inflict a double whammy on Lorient: conceded a penalty and was dismissed. 

Careless is how you should describe Manga's feeble attempt to shield the ball against then-Monaco (now Newcastle United) centre-forward Emmanuel Riviere. 

Marking no one, Manga was at fault when Monaco left-back Layvin Kurzawa received the ball.

Lorient conceded a goal via Manga's inadvertent back-pass to Liverpool's Lille loanee Divock Origi. 

Manga's hack on then-Lille (now Marseille) left/central attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet was a costly low-football-IQ decision, which gave away a penalty. 

 

Bottom Line

A week ago, Manolas was "undergoing a medical ahead of his move to Arsenal," per James Dickenson at the Daily Express

Now, Manolas is "Roma's top choice," per David Amoyal at GianlucaDiMarzio.com

Given Marquinhos' and Mehdi Benatia's success, it is understandable that Manolas would choose Roma.

In that scenario, Manga should be one of the main Manolas alternatives for Arsenal. 

But what about Chambers, the €20/£16 million signing from Southampton?

Chambers is slated for a utility role, according Wenger, per ESPN.co.uk.

  • Chambers was signed as a right-back.
  • Currently playing as a centre-back.
  • Has the characteristics to move into midfield. 

While the Sebastian Squillaci-like concentration lapses are a red flag, Manga's ability to make impactful defensive plays sets him apart.

Therefore, Wenger signing a top third-choice centre-back such as Manga, who will push for a starting place, would be a logical precautionary move. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com 

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