Javier Manquillo moves to Newcastle United with an underwhelming reaction from the majority of fans. I take a look at why it is far too early to judge the player (especially before he’s kicked a ball for Newcastle).
Rafael Benitez is a manager who likes to have a squad filled with competition, it brings out the best in players, and also allows the Spaniard to use his rotation policy when he sees fit. We saw last season that nobody is safe from being dropped, with club captain Jamaal Lascelles falling victim on a number of occasions last season. With this in mind, it is clear why Benitez has opted to sign Manquillo. The full back is a Benitez type player, at 23 years-old he is young and has plenty of time to improve.
Newcastle have made the mistake of not having enough squad depth in recent Premier League seasons. Something that Benitez will not allow to happen during the next campaign. The lack of squad depth brought with it dismal seasons, mostly fighting to escape relegation and during the 2015/15 campaign failing to do so.
As for fans’ concerns over Manquillo, I would argue that it was very difficult for any player to shine in the Sunderland side of last season. Surrounded by poor players, who lacked the fight and quality to keep them in the Premier League. Playing for a manager who has long been past his best is also a struggle. David Moyes’ reputation has nosedived since his successful time with Everton. The Scotsman looked like a rabbit caught in headlights at times last season, hardly a good motivation for the players.
Ciaran Clark and DeAndre Yedlin are prime examples of being judged far too soon. Clark was a part of a struggling Aston Villa that got relegated along with Newcastle during the 2015/16 campaign. We scratched our heads at the Irish internationals signing last summer, we were proved wrong as Clark was one of the stand-out performers last season. Manquillo is following a similar path to Yedlin, who was also on loan at Sunderland. We also had doubts over his signing last summer, again we were proved wrong – There is no reason why Manquillo cannot do the same.
Manquillo is versatile, he can also operate as a left-back, having played in the position for Marseille while on loan. Manquillo showed promise on the left hand side, and could finally provide good competition for Paul Dummett. The Geordie born, Wales international has been Newcastle’s number one left-back for some time now. Dummett hasn’t had stiff competition for his position, with the likes of Massadio Haidara and Achraf Lazaar flattering to deceive during their time on Tyneside.
It is clear that Benitez is building a side full of players that want to play for the club. The arrivals of Manquillo and Jacob Murphy added to the signings of Florian Lejeune and Christian Atsu, show that Benitez is looking for young and hungry players with a point to prove. The Newcastle manager stated the club was no longer a stepping stone for players. That is clear when you look at the signings of last summer and the players coming through the doors during this window.
Manquillo has had a faltering start to his career, but he will be determined to repay the faith shown in him by Benitez. Having had 3 loan spells in as many seasons, Manquillo will be happy to finally settle somewhere. His permanent switch to Newcastle and working for Rafa Benitez, will be the motivation he needs to get his career back on track.
Graeme Bell – Follow Graeme on @GraemeBell_NUFC