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Manquillo hopes to settle down at Liverpool

It wasn’t a secret that both full-back positions in the Liverpool team needed looking at. Brendan Rodgers knew this when he arrived at the club in the middle of 2012. Personnel-wise he seemed to have almost an embarrassment of riches for these two important defensive positions. However, it isn’t ideal to have predominantly right-footed footballers playing on the left as both Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan have done in recent times; and it certainly isn’t ideal to have men who are described as centre-backs playing at full-back as Daniel Agger, Kolo Touré and Mamadou Sakho have been asked to do. Plus injury and loss of form have restricted a real left-back, José Enrique, to appearances in just 63% of the club’s Premier League matches since he arrived from Newcastle in August 2011.

Enrique, Jack Robinson, Martin Kelly, Touré and Johnson shared full-back duties competently enough during the club’s North American tour in the summer of 2014. But it wasn’t a surprise that Rodgers moved swiftly into action soon after returning to England. Enrique seemed to have made a good recovery from injury but Johnson was now inside the final 12 months of his current contract and Robinson, who seems to have spent more time on loan than at Anfield/Melwood despite being only 20 years old, showed previously unknown disciplinary traits by being sent off three times for Blackpool during the 2013/14 season. Touré, now in his 34th year, was never seen as a permanent full-back solution anyway; and Kelly, like Enrique, had been out for spells due to injury.

Manquillo was born in the Spanish capital in 1994 and played youth football for Real Madrid in the same team as his brother, Victor. When Real released his brother Javier left as well and the 13-year-old twins were quickly snapped up by Real’s city rivals Atlético. The full-back made his senior competitive debut shortly before Christmas 2011 in a 2-1 Copa del Rey defeat at Albacete when he was still several months short of his 18th birthday. In the following season he was again used in a few domestic cup matches but most of his appearances came while representing his club’s Segunda División B team, while at the same time he was playing for his country at different levels from Under-16 to Under-20 inclusive.

As David Villa was transferred to Atletico in the summer of 2013, Barcelona wanted to make Marquillo a part of the deal, but could not reach an agreement. Even though Atlético won their domestic title for the first time since 1996 in the 2013/14 season, the youngster can hardly claim to have made a significant contribution to that success as he only featured in three top division league matches, bringing his league total to six. Former Spanish international Juanfran had made the right-back position at Atletico his own and Marquillo did not play from February onwards as he fell awkwardly on his neck after a collision with Cristiano Ronaldo as Atlético lost to Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. The harsh landing caused a fractured vertebra. Lack of experience won’t necessarily work against Marquillo though at Liverpool as Rodgers likes to give youngsters a fair chance and he has the added advantage of being able, like Johnson and Flanagan, to play on both flanks. 

Javier Manquillo arrives on a two-year loan deal, but reportedly Atlético can break the loan arrangement and recall Manquillo for a fee next summer (believed to be certainly higher than £5million) while Liverpool have an option to buy him permanently in 2016 for up to £5million; the fee depending on his number of appearances. Manquillo has his sights though set on Liverpool and told Liverpoolfc.com that he hopes to secure a place in the first team in the forthcoming season and stay at Liverpool for many years.

La Liga expert, Petter Veland, told liverpool.no that Manquillo is a very athletic youngster and the speed and raw power of the Premier League wouldn't phase him. He still has a lot to learn positionally and is prone to make rash challenges in the box, but that is a part of his learning curve. He is a better attacker than a defender and is always ready to overlap and has especially reached a good understanding with Barca's Gerard Delofeu in the Spanish U-20 squad on the right flank. He has the potential to be a full Spanish international and hopefully his long-term future will be at Liverpool, rather than in Spain if he turns out to be a roaring success.

Copyright - LFChistory.net - written by Chris Wood ([email protected]) and Arnie ([email protected])
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