Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard has emerge as the favorite centre-back to replace England international Harry Maguire, who looks set to join West Ham United this week.
In this article, we’ll analyze the reasons why Erik Ten Hag prefers the France international to replace Harry Maguire ahead of Edmond Tapsoba and former Barcelona player Todibo.
Hence, the obvious question: Why Benjamin Pavard?
Flexible and forward-thinking
Those who had previously followed Pavard recall him as a progressive right back with a devastating strike on him. He is so much more than that, though. Only 77 of his 195 games played in his career have been at right back. He is reliable all around and has also been used in midfield and center defense.
It is challenging to scale his increasing numbers correctly. He has spent the most of his playing time at fullback, as previously mentioned, which will distort his statistics and prevent an accurate assessment of his potential at center back. When analyzing the raw data, it is evident that he is heavily involved in the build-up.
He is a high-level, high-volume passer and has a fantastic ability to keep the game moving while he is on the ball.
What Did We Learn from the Pre-Season Setup?
Ten Hag has been tinkering with his United team during preseason. We saw throughout the previous season how crucial it is to him that his center defenders are talented ball players. The purchase of Lisandro Martinez served as clear evidence of this.
Concerns have been raised about Varane’s ball-handling skills. The preseason, though, has seen him play much better; he has been more assured and collected on the ball and has played passes between the lines that are more progressive.
Since Andre Onana came, the need for the center-backs to be calm and skilled with the ball has only increased. The ball is returning to them as rapidly as it was released, giving them no time to catch their breath.
The underlapping center back is another recent and intriguing trend that has been seen. Varane and Martinez are overlapping under Ten Hag, giving the full-backs choices to choose from. Both Shaw and Dalot are excellent ball-progressors with a wide passing range, which helps with this. Only time will tell if Ten Hag would position Wan-Bissaka in the same manner. In either case, Pavard will prosper thanks to this new concept.
Overall Opinion of the Transaction
Despite the fact that he is a fantastic player, I think many people will find this agreement to be fairly underwhelming. especially considering the likelihood that he will support Varane rather than take his place.
He has limited opportunity for growth given his age profile and is therefore unlikely to ever surpass Varane in the hierarchy. Varane’s minutes, on the other hand, needed to be controlled, as we all know, thus Pavard would see a lot of action. It appears to be a temporary, practical solution before we take huge steps in the future.