According to a report published by The Telegraph earlier this month, both Manchester City and Barcelona are set to duel it out for the coveted signature of Villarreal’s 19-year-old sensation, Ivan Morante, who is rated as a £6m player and has been tipped to eventually play for the national side.
But who exactly is this kid and why do these European giants want to sign him that badly?
Let’s find out…
Morante is a 19-year-old who joined Villarreal’s academy as a young child and has been on a steady rise ever since.
And it seems that he couldn’t have chosen a better academy for himself than the Yellow Submarine’s, which has seemingly polished this rough and raw talent into a diamond in the making.
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Rising through the ranks in Spain, Morante quickly gathered pace and went on to achieve great success at the club, eventually even winning both the domestic league and the Copa del Rey with Villarreal’s Juvenile A squad, which was a first for the Yellow Submarine.
And with some international experience in the Spanish youth ranks as well, it doesn’t really come as a surprise to see the likes of Man City and Barcelona prowling around.
Judging by his profile, Morante is a player that would fit both their systems like a glove.
Even though he is still just 19 years of age, his talents are already breaking out for everyone to see. As a player, he is brave and extremely technical on the ball, capable of both retaining and recycling possession under pressure and in the face of the opposition. In general, you could define him as a ‘pivot’, as they would say in Spain, or a holding midfielder.
If his profile was to be compared to some of the greats, we could say that Barcelona would finally land their Sergio Busquets successor and Pep Guardiola would sign someone capable of rivalling Rodri for a place in the midfield anchor role.
Just by looking at his stats from the 2019/20 season across all competitions, we can immediately see where his strengths lie, courtesy of Wyscout.
We’ve already mentioned that the technical side of his player profile is very strong and the numbers certainly back that claim up pretty nicely. Morante has averaged 87.4% passing accuracy in the ongoing season, with 1.39 through balls per game as well. It’s important to note that 47.1% of those have been accurate, indicating that he has a keen eye for a piercing ball and also the vision and the skill to deploy it.
But defending is equally crucial in the pivot role. With 8.73 recoveries and 3.67 interceptions per game, the 19-year-old is certainly making strides in that category.
It’s also important to note that he averages 1.88 fouls per game as well, which could be an indication of his tendency to make tactical fouls in order to snuff out the potential danger coming from the other side, but 0.08 yellow and no red cards also suggest that he is rather safe in his approach too.
Man City and Barcelona are both clubs that have excelled and set unprecedented standards under Guardiola.
And for that reason, they also share some similar ideals, principles and ultimately, styles of play. Their tactics can be described as vertical, highly focused on possession domination and maybe above all, structural that follow the principles of positional football.
The player that is usually the hub of such systems is the defensive midfielder, or the pivot. With his great technical ability and potential to turn into a star of the future, Morante could well occupy that role for one of the greatest clubs in world football.
He is the type of player to start attacks from the deep, helping move the ball from inside their own half and transition it into the final third. This is reinforced by his average of 11.59 passes into that area per game with 73.9% accuracy, as stated by Wyscout above, suggesting that he is often the one initiating the progression from deeper areas.
Since both Man City and Barcelona love to build all the way from the back, Morante could have a huge role to play in those scenarios in the not so distant future as he seems secure and brave enough on the ball to actually accomplish such a task.
Even though they have done a fantastic job nurturing the 19-year-old talent and polishing his skills, Villarreal may succumb to the advances of rival clubs.
But on paper, a transfer to either of the aforementioned giants looks like exactly the right move for Morante.