Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is a 21 year old centre-half playing for La Liga's surprise package Real Sociedad, playing 24 times this season as Philippe Montanier's side have risen to fourth in the league. 

That was short and sweet, what is he good at?

He is a composed defender, able to bring the ball out of the back with his cultured left foot. Despite his modest sub-6ft frame, he is also deceivingly good in the air, winning most of his aerial duels (38 from 69 this season) thanks to his salmon-like leap and hang in the air, which almost defies gravity. His tackle success rate, standing at 79%, has given him a reputation of being an uncompromising defender with a superb reading of the game that has drawn comparisons with Barcelona's Carles Puyol. 

Carles Puyol eh? Does he have long hair? 

We don't mean aesthetically, his locks are well and truly short, but we do mean he is intelligent with clever positioning which means he can get by without being particularly quick. He can also rise to the physical battle when a striker gets by him, something he has had to improve on after getting sent-off in his first appearance for the Spanish under-23s at last year's London Olympics, when he was drawn out of position and dismissed for a last-man challenge on Kensuke Nagai. A la Puyol, he can also play-left back.

He's got a fondness for a card then?

You can say that. When he was first given a go in Sociedad's "B" team in 2010, he picked up 10 yellows and 4 reds before being given 9 yellows and 2 reds in the following year. After being promoted to the first team, his discipline has cleaned up, registering 6 yellow cards and staying clean on the red front. 

He's mellowed down with age?

Well.. yeah... he's more of a "champagne" centre-half now, preferring to be comfortable and clever on the ball rather than charging around looking for a tackle. With a passing percentage of 80%  from over 700 passes this year, he fits in with the Spanish vogue of being good with your feet at the back. It's no wonder Barcelona have been looking at him to solve their underlying defensive "crisis".

By the way, if any greater indication was needed about his ability on the ball, why not watch a video of him scoring 2, yes 2, goals from the half-way line. Eat your heart out Beckham.

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