Apoplectic rage was widespread in many Manchester United supporting households on Wednesday after news emerged that Pedro would be joining rivals Chelsea.
Things were only to get worse. After it was reported that Louis van Gaal’s alternative target was Southampton’s Sadio Mané, moods changed from disappointment to rage.
How can you replace a World Cup and Champions League winning talent with a mid-table Premier League forward? Well, it seems there is method in what initially appeared to be Manchester United madness.
Despite a Southampton official insisting the player would not depart Saint Mary’s, the lure of a club on a gargantuan scale such as Manchester United, could be enough to tempt Mané into a move to Manchester.
Some supporters argue that van Gaal should not have stalled on the Pedro transfer, and that the Dutch manager is at fault for losing a player capable of doing the extraordinary from nothing.
Instead, United are attempting to secure the services of a player that has no experience of the dizzying heights of top European football. However, if you, like seemingly countless other fans, are sobbing at the missed opportunity, listen up…
Using WhoScored, Opta and Squakwa, a respected trio dedicated to producing statistics that we, the fans to drool over, Pundit Arena have concluded that despite the Barcelona winger’s experience, Mané may well be a better acquirement for the Red Devils.
Here’s the proof..
Using carefully calculated statistics, it was revealed that Mané concluded the 2014/15 season with more goals, passes and chances created than Pedro, winner of a World Cup and two European Championships.
The Spaniard may have Mané beaten on passing accuracy in general and in the opposition’s half, but to our surprise, Southampton’s winger comfortably swats aside Chelsea’s newest recruit in the areas of duels won, passes made, aerial duels won and recoveries of the ball.
Admittedly in the defence of Pedro, Mané has had six hundred minutes further on the pitch, but the 23-year-old is not surrounded by the likes of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, instead assisted by Steven Davis and James Ward Prowse in the Saint’s midfield last season.
Youth very much favours Southampton’s attacking maestro, with the Senegalese five years younger than Barca’s long-time servant. There is also appeal in the fact that Mané has already settled in the Premier League, and has shown he is more than capable of performing week in, week out on the big stage.
This show of strength, composure and exquisite skill seen in his goal against Arsenal last season is an indicator of the former Red Bull Salzburg attacker’s ability to play for one of Europe’s biggest teams.
Squakwa’s Comparison Matrix is also an excellent tool for investigating the form of players from different leagues pitted against each other, and again to our disbelief, it was Mané who outshone Pedro in almost every category.
Offensively and defensively, the boy from Santa Cruz is embarrassed by Ronald Koeman’s £11.7m signing with Mané strides ahead of his counterpart.
Pedro’s attacking score is a satisfactory one, but his failure to come anywhere close in his defensive markings show that Mané is a significantly more hard working individual, who also bettered Rodriguez by a hair in the number of successful passes.
Pedro fares little better with round two of Squakwa’s comparison ratings, having assisted more goals for his world class team-mates to convert than Mané. Thirty-seven key passes in juxtaposition to Rodriguez’s nineteen is a notable feat alongside the fact that Mané had created close to double the opportunities that Pedro had in 2014/15.
It brings to the table an interesting discussion as to why Koeman’s lynchpin is a better purchase than Enrique’s super sub, no?
Another fascinating outlook is the brute force of Mané when faced against the statistics of Pedro. Having won over twice as many tackles, nearly three times as many successful take ons and four times as many clearances as the Barcelona man, it is not difficult to see why Louis van Gaal may prefer his latest target to the Chelsea-bound winger.
Having suffered seventy-six tackles to win free-kicks for Southampton, Mané’s ability to run through walls and take a beating would be a huge asset to this Manchester United side.
The pair are unbearably close when it comes to their attacking data, with Pedro arguably the better option. The Spaniard scored six goals and recorded nine assists from fifteen starts and twenty substitute appearances for the Catalan giants via WhoScored and Opta, compared to Mané’s 10 goals and three assists in thirty appearances for the Saints in his first Premier League season.
Despite this, Mané’s dexterity to play on the wing, in central midfield, as a No.10 or as a part of the forward line gives a wide range of options to Louis van Gaal in the sense of how to utilise his potential signing, whilst Pedro is somewhat limited as to where he can line up on the pitch.
In conclusion, after the abundance of statistics made available to us it seems that Sadio Mané would be a much better fit as well as further value for money, an enhanced benefit.
Pedro’s European experience is a worthy tool to use in a debate concerning who would help Manchester United challenge for the Premier League and progress in the Champions League, but after this reveal, it seems that Mané could be a worthier inclusion to van Gaal’s team.