According to RMC Sport Correspondent Sacha Tavolieri, Facundo Medina is drawing interest from Manchester United who have been scouting for potential targets to bolster their Centre Back department. Facundo Medina has attracted the attention of English giants with his stellar performance with French side RC Lens. The report further states that while Manchester United have registered an interest in Medina, he is among a number of names on their shortlist and is not their main target as at the present moment.
In this scout report, we will look at how he has fared in his career and if he can sustain his stellar output in a better side.
Facundo Medina is a left footed centre-back and equally capable of playing as a left back. Born in Buenos Aires, he joined his boyhood club River Plate as a youngster, rising through the ranks over the years and breaking into the reserves team in 2017. He, then got called up to first team too but failed to make an appearance for the club. Soon, fellow Argentina Primera Division side Talleres came calling for him. Getting consistent first team opportunities at first team level, Medina started growing as a player and his talent slowly started attracting attention of some European sides- mainly from France with OM, OL sending their scouts to watch him on a number of occasions. But it was Ligue 1 newcomers RC Lens who snapped him up before the start of 2020-21 season, in a deal worth 3.15 million euros. Him along with young French Defender Loic Bade make up the crux of defence which is one of the best statistically in Ligue 1 this season. This has catapulted the newcomers to 7th place in the Ligue 1 table, level on points with AS Monaco with a game in hand- an unexpected fight for European Competition spots.
Medina’s defending is different from most of the centre-backs in the league. He possesses natural quickness which allows him to make risky decisions at times. Along with his aggressive style of play, he tends to apply a lot of ‘pressures’ and contest for duels with wingers/strikers of the opposition. His agility and speed compensate for his aggressive style of play, but not to the full extent. When he puts pressure on the opponent, it becomes vital that he must have the right body positioning to limit the passing angles through which the opposition can dictate the game. This proactive style of defending requires great spatial awareness and quick decision-making because every mistake might be costly. The centre-back needs to read the game well, limiting the passing options and the opportunity for an attacker to turn and change direction.
Medina’s mobility and awareness of where the next pass might be played become the key components when it comes to interceptions. Facundo averages 1.2 interceptions and 12.5 recoveries per 90 mins in Ligue 1 this season. Getting in the way of the attackers creates a lot of trouble for the opposition and provides Lens with an opportunity to start a counter attack, in which he plays a vital part. His forward passes break opposition defensive lines and help his teammates create opportunities within a couple of passes. He can release the attackers with a pinpoint pass. He averages 6.5 progressive passes per 90 minutes and has covered a distance upwards of 180 yards per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 this season.
At the age of 21, Medina already has the kind of dominating presence you would expect from an experienced and commanding centre-ack. Despite being only 5’11’’, he has a great jump and takes off the ground really well, which helps him tremendously in aerial duels. Along with his aggressive playing style, he is adept at contesting and winning ground duels too. He boasts a rate of 61% when it comes to winning aerial duels and 70% rate when it comes to winning tackles, one of the highest in the league. He likes to gain some advantage over his opponent by getting in front of him. His agility and balance allow him to coordinate himself in this manner. His anticipation and reading of the game help him to prevent through balls, passes into penalty area or crosses, may it be from Centre Back or Left Back. He is getting a consistent amount of playing time at a fairly good level in Europe too, which has attracted attention of even better clubs.
Facundo Medina is still very inexperienced at the top level. His aggressive playing style can easily leave the defence wide open, thus making him a more system specific player at the moment. But these things can be worked upon since he is still young. For a centre-back with an aggressive style of play, blessed with quickness, agility and good positional awareness, Facundo Medina promises to become an asset for any team if groomed well. Such a playing style is an embodiment of the modern-day Centre Back. This playing style is what has been missing in United’s current CB roster. This is the reason the red devils have been scouting players of similar style with scouts sent on assignments to Portugal to watch Sporting Braga’s David Carmo in past months.
With BBC Sport Correspondent Simon Stone also breaking the news that United is sporadically looking for such low-risk high reward buys, it shows that there has been a change of direction at the club when it comes to transfer dealings.