Sadio Mane v Pedro: Head To Head

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…

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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.

Click on the image to see how Sadio Mane beats Pedro on passes, duels won and recoveries of the ball.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.
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Pedro vs Mane
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.

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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.

In Profile: Matteo Darmian

Manchester United are set to announce their second move of the summer in the form of Italian full-back Matteo Darmian in a £14.3m move after Torino coach Giampiero Ventura admitted that a move is imminent.

 “It’s true, Darmian will play in the Champions League with Manchester United,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“Matteo deserves a top team and always dreamed of playing in the Champions League so now that dream will be realised.

It looks to be a good move for both the club and the player, who initially showcased his talent to the world for Italy in the 2014 World Cup, where he impressed against England in a 2-1 win.

Here’s all you need to know about the 25-year-old.

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The Beginning

His love affair with football began quite young, encouraged by his father Giovani who was one of the coaches for Oratorio, an association representing the best talent in Lombardy. His first opportunity to thrive came thanks to Beniamino Abate, a scout for Italian giants AC Milan, who noticed Darmian’s ability and invited him to play for the Milanese outfit.

After spending the early 2000s in Milan’s youth academy, he made his first-team debut for the Rossoneriin 2006, making an appearance as a substitute in the Coppa Italia. His Serie A emergence did not occur until the following year, deep into the season, again as a substitute in a 3-2 win over Udinese.

The 2007/08 season saw Darmian preview his ability to be the leader on and off the pitch after being appointed captain of the club’s Primavera. Unfortunately, with such quality around him Darmian was unable to break through into the first team, making just one more appearance for the club in the Coppa Italia.

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Loan To Padova & Move To Palermo

His move to Serie B club Padova was a step-down for the heavy heights at Milan, as despite the deal only being temporary it seemed likely Darmian would not be staying at the San Siro. In his first real taste of continuous professional football, he made twenty appearances and helped his interim club avoid relegation due to a play-off win over Trestina.

His impressive performances earned him a move to Palermo,  which saw the Sicilian club buy Darmian in co-ownership with Milan in an €800,000 move. His debut came in a 3-1 win over Juventus in a two-year spell, but it was not until he was loaned to Torino before any progress was really made.

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The Torino Years

Toro signed Darmian, initially on loan, in July, 2011 following the renewal of the co-ownership agreement between Palermo and Milan, before buying Palermo’s half of Darmian’s services for €825,000 after the full-back had made thirty-three appearances in Serie B and had been pivotal in the club’s promotion.

Following that successful campaign, Darmian made another thirty appearances in Serie A as the club survived it’s return to the top-flight, but it was the 2013/14 campaign that proved to be pivotal to the reasoning behind his World Cup selection.

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The Breakthrough Campaign

Despite the prominence of stars Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci in Torino’s 2013/14 team, coach Giampiero Ventura believed in a strong base, with a reliance on his team’s full-backs, in a 3-5-2 where Darmian thrived, with an 83% pass accuracy with over half his aerial duels won, despite not being one of the tallest defenders in the division at 5ft. 11in.

His ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch impressed many, not least Italy manager Cesare Prandelli, who decided to select the previously uncapped Darmian in his World Cup squad.

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The World Cup

It was sink or swim on such a big stage, but Darmian was one of the few Italians who could return home after failing to qualify for the knock-out stages with his head held high after being outstanding against England in Manaus, and impressing against Costa Rica and Uruguay.

“If you’d told me eight months ago that I’d be playing in the World Cup, I would have burst out laughing,” he commented afterwards.

“It was a childhood dream, but honestly I didn’t think I’d get here.”

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After another stellar campaign in 2014/15, it was no surprise to see that Europe’s best came not only to knock, but to barge down Torino’s door to acquire Darmian’s services.

So, why was Louis van Gaal so keen to sign him?

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Strengths

His versatility is undoubtedly Darmian’s most outstanding trait. Able to perform exceptionally in both full-back positions in a 3-5-2, a formation favoured by Manchester United manager Van Gaal during parts of last season, the 25-year-old can also operate in the centre of the defence if the situation arises where that role needs to be deputised.

What can never be disputed as well would be the consistency a player like Darmian will provide. Consistency in such a position is a privilege given the calamitous full-backs that have “graced” the Premier League, but Van Gaal and those in the stands at Old Trafford should be more than happy with the Italian’s performance and work-rate throughout ninety minutes.

His 39 chances created betters that of United’s full-back Antonio Valencia, who only managed 26, whilst he also bettered the Ecuadorian on the number of key chances created, with 38 compared to 24 in Darmian’s favour. That total was also the third highest of any defender in Serie A last season, behind Danilo Fernando Avelar (44) and Edenilson (44).

Is there any faults to his game? Well, no one is perfect.

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Weaknesses

Despite his ability on the ball, Darmian could improve on the tally of his assists. His measly two assists should be improved with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay to convert the chances he creates.

This looks set to be a very astute signing by Manchester United in a move that will aid Van Gaal immensely, who signs the full-back at a prime age off the back of two very successful seasons in Italy.