Manchester United Transfers: Is Bruno Soriano the Right Man for United?

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIOctober 12, 2011

Villarreal's Midfield Enforcer Bruno Soriano: The Right Man for Manchester United?
Villarreal's Midfield Enforcer Bruno Soriano: The Right Man for Manchester United?Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Rumour has it Manchester United are lining up a January transfer swoop for tough-tackling Villarreal CF midfielder Bruno Soriano. United need a player like that, but is Soriano the right man for the job?

According to Inside Futbol, the Red Devils are interested in the 27-year-old, and reportedly bid £8.8 million for the player last month.

But considering the Yellow Submarine are not strapped for cash anymore, thanks to the sale of Santi Cazorla to Malaga CF for £18.4 million, they've told the Premier League giants to stump up more money.

And with FC Barcelona also keeping tabs on the player's situation, it could take a bid of almost 50 percent higher, or more, for Villarreal to consider selling.

Either way, it could turn out to be an investment well spent on the Spaniard.

Soriano, who has won two caps for Spain, has been the heartbeat of Villarreal's team for the past few seasons, being virtually ever-present in the side.

A no-nonsense defensive midfielder, Soriano combines great passing and technical ability (in the typical, ball-playing Spanish style), with the strong tackling and direct approach that would see him slot right in at any Premier League team.

One look at his statistics shows clearly why both Barcelona and Manchester United have taken an interest in the midfielder.

Soriano has been one of the shining stars in what has been a slow start for Villarreal this season, with his contribution defensively paramount to the side.

Having started and played in all six league games for the club this term, Soriano has made 33 interceptions from midfield, at a rate of 5.5 per game.

In comparison, Barca's two holding midfielders, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets, have made just two and 1.7 interceptions per game respectively.

As for United, Anderson leads the way in his team, having also made two interceptions per game, and 14 overall in the Premier League this season.

So it's clear both teams, and the Red Devils especially considering they retain less possession than Barcelona, could do with a player like Soriano who can break down attacks from midfield.

Soriano's tackling also makes him stand out, having successfully won 14 tackles this season at a rate of 2.3 tackles per game, conceding just three fouls at a rate of 0.5 per game.

Barcelona's main players in that area perform better, but only one Manchester United player has a better tackling tally, which again is Anderson, who's won 20 tackles at a rate of 2.9 per game.

However, he's also committed seven fouls at a rate of one per game in the process, so he isn't as clean a tackler as Soriano.

With clean, strong tackling and a great eye for intercepting passes, Soriano has two of the main attributes to be a success in the Premier League, along with his strong, 5'10", 70kg frame.

But what makes him suited to a club like United, or Barca, is his passing and ability to create play as well as break it up.

Soriano (right) suited to the Premier League
Soriano (right) suited to the Premier LeagueManuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Not the most clinical passer in the game, Soriano probably won't be a replacement for Paul Scholes given he's only made three key passes from six matches this season, and only hits 0.3 accurate through balls per game.

What he does have in his locker though is an 87 percent pass success rate, which is staggering considering he sprays around 72.3 passes per game, or 434 so far this season.

And also considering centre-back Carlos Marchena is the next best with 55.7 passes per game, it's clear Villarreal like to start play patiently from the back, and that Soriano is the main channel between defence and attack.

Now he's not exactly going to be a player Barcelona will look to for building up play, considering Xavi Hernandez, Dani Alves, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets all have better passing stats, but for Manchester United he could be ideal.

United traditionally play with the classic 4-4-2 and like to have two central midfielders who are both capable of breaking up opponents' attacks and starting them for their side.

Anderson has proven he's capable of that, with his aforementioned defensive statistics going hand-in-hand with his 86 percent pass success rate from 60.3 passes per game, or 422 in total.

However, United have no other player who's proven he can fulfill that role.

Darren Fletcher performs better than Soriano in his passing statistics, but considerably worse defensively, with the same going for Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick.

Bruno Soriano (right): Known For Being a Tough-Tackler
Bruno Soriano (right): Known For Being a Tough-TacklerDavid Ramos/Getty Images

Soriano is also able to mix up his passing, much like the Manchester United way of passing, combining several intricate short passes with quick, accurate, long passes, again proving his ability to initiate forward play.

He's hit 25 accurate long balls so far this season, at a rate of 4.2 per game, which is better than any of his teammates, and better than all United players barring Anderson.

So, is Bruno Soriano the man for Manchester United?

He wouldn't be the best typecast defensive midfielder in the side, nor the best attacking midfielder, but whack him in a two-man midfield and he could easily bring out the best of both sides to his game, giving United extra impetus in attack and increased protection in defence.

He's no Paul Scholes or Roy Keane, but for £10-12 million, he could be the right man for the Premier League champions.


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