Jesus Navas: how will the Los Palacios winger make Manchester his home?
Looking ahead to a transfer window that promises fireworks, one deal that is already done, and one of the more fascinating transfer stories of the summer so far, is Manchester City’s purchase of Jesus Navas.
Born in the Seville province of Los Palacios y Villafranca, prior to signing for Manchester City, Navas had spent his entire career at local club Sevilla.
Widely considered one of the best players in La Liga, Navas’ career has stalled of late. Mirroring his club’s trajectory, Navas’ form and reputation has been on the wane since Sevilla’s last trophy, the 2010 Copa del Rey. Although partly due to injuries and also the club’s decline, Navas’ goals have dried up (from 2007-2010, Navas scored 19 goals, but only 8 since), and whilst his assist rate has remained competitive (30 in the past three years), he has not hit the heights of earlier seasons (45 assists between 2007 and 2010) and he seemed to have stagnated at Sevilla.
The reasons as to why Navas hasn’t moved clubs earlier have been well publicised, with his intense homesickness apparently scuppering a move to Chelsea in 2006. The fact that he has now chosen to move is interesting, perhaps realising that at this stage in his career, with his own form and his club’s beginning to stagnate that a move really was needed. Also interesting is his choice of destination; Navas isn’t swapping Seville for Catalonia or Madrid, but a complete change of culture in England with Manchester City. Navas insists that he has his homesickness under control and whilst that might be the case for now, one has to wonder how he will cope if his time at Manchester City.
So will Jesus Navas be a success at Manchester City? Well there are certainly reasons to have reservations. One is that Navas is a right-footed, out and out right winger. Manchester City do not currently have on their books, nor have they been linked with, a similar such player on the left. This calls in to question exactly how Pellegrini will deploy Navas. If he does choose to play Navas in his natural position, Pellegrini would be forced to deploy the likes of David Silva or Edin Dzeko on the left-wing. This would mean forcing a player out of position, who will inevitably drift centrally, upsetting the balance of the team. Another option would be to use Navas on the left as an inside forward; however, his relatively poor left foot would undoubtedly leas to him cutting inside onto his favoured foot quite predictably. Using Navas in this way as well as being relatively easily neutralised by defenders playing him onto his weaker side, this would also leave Navas trying to learn an unfamiliar position, in an unfamiliar city, in an unfamiliar country.
If starved of playing time, deployed out of position, or even just struggling form, it is not hard to imagine that Jesus Navas’ homesickness could well return in his first season at Manchester City.
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