Stats: Should van Gaal gamble on Porto defender?

Eliaquim Mangala

FC Porto's Eliaquim Mangala reportedly claims he would prefer a move to Manchester United ahead of their city rivals but what do the stats say?

Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala has told friends he would rather join Manchester United than rivals Manchester City, writes David Anderson but what do the stats say about him compared with United's current defenders?

The Frenchman has reportedly emerged as a priority target for Manuel Pellegrini's men with City ready to pay his £36.5 million release-clause. However, Mangala is said to be reluctant to agree the move because he feels United are the bigger of the two city rivals.

Louis van Gaal is said to have reservations about the player’s temperament and has not placed the 23-year-old on his wish-list, but is this enough of a reason to pass on the opportunity to sign the centre-back?

  Goals ConcededPlayed
Chelsea 27 38
Manchester City 37 38
Everton 39 38
Arsenal 41 38
Manchester United 43 38

The Red Devils were by no means the worst for conceding league goals last term, in fact, the defence remained fairly resistant throughout the season compared to the rest of the top flight. However, the loss of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand could prove costly.

  TeamPosmins / Goals ConcededError Lead To GoalClean SheetAppsMins
Nemanja Vidic Man Utd DF 83.28 1 7 25 2,082
Phil Jones Man Utd DF 80.52 0 8 26 2,174
Chris Smalling Man Utd DF 77.52 1 8 25 1,938
Rio Ferdinand Man Utd DF 75.20 0 4 14 1,128

Departing club captain, Nemanja Vidic proved particularly important to the United cause last season, conceding less often than the remaining United central defenders. This statistic proves just how invaluable he is to the side.

With Ferdinand and the Serbian set to leave upon the expiry of their current contracts, defensive reinforcements are certainly needed. Van Gaal has the advantage of youth with remaining crop of central defenders, nonetheless questions are already being asked of each player’s ability.

If United wish to reinstate themselves as a club to be feared, van Gaal will be keen for his side to achieve the defensive efficiency of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, who conceded just 27 goals last season – a division best.

At 23, Mangala offers youth but his class is beyond question. The Frenchman is coveted by a number of top European sides and it’s easy to see why.

He made 12 appearances in Europe last season as FC Porto participated in both the Champions and the Europa League.

The Portuguese outfit enjoyed a successful run to Europa League semi-finals, having finished third in CHampions League group G, before facing defeat to eventual winners, Sevilla. Mangala played a major role in his side’s progress, wowing spectators with his strength and composure throughout a number of impressive performances.

  TeamPosTackles WonSuccessful Tackles (%)Interception per appClearances per appBlocks per appAerial Duel Success (%)Pass Accuracy (%)AppsMins
Phil Jones Man Utd DF 1.69 73.33 2.12 5.73 0.50 57.45 88.30 26 2,174
Chris Smalling Man Utd DF 1.20 69.77 1.04 7.12 0.64 68.48 82.59 25 1,938
Jonny Evans Man Utd DF 1.00 89.47 1.47 7.82 0.65 68.63 87.33 17 1,377

He contributed with an average nine defensive actions per match, 85% of which were clearances. In addition, he saw success in 60% of his tackles, 79% of his headed duels and 87% of his attempted passes.

Furthermore, he scored an impressive three goals during these six appearances, all of which came from headers inside the six-yard-area. He would pose a considerable attacking threat for the Red Devils, especially from set pieces. Overall he converted 75% of all his chances, hitting the cross bar from his only inaccurate attempt.

  TeamPosYellow CardsRed Cards
Phil Jones Man Utd DF 5 0
Nemanja Vidic Man Utd DF 5 2
Chris Smalling Man Utd DF 2 0

Van Gaal naturally has his reservations over Mangala’s temperament, considering he was booked on 12 occasions (nine league warnings) last season and sent off once, but hasn’t Vidic maintained a similar record in terms of discipline? The Frenchman’s style of defending is bound to draw its critics, but there can be no denying that it is effective.

Mangala is holding out for an approach from United and Van Gaal would do well to take a gamble on his signature, but only for a reduced price. He appears an ideal replacement for the departing Nemanja Vidic and he would go a long way to strengthening the United back-four ahead of next season.

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