Talk of Croatian international Daniel Pranjic closing in on a move to L4 is gathering pace some six months after Moyes first tried lure the midfielder from Bavaria. This post will take a closer look at the Croatian’s potential signature ….
The End of Baines?
Many fans are questioning whether the move for Pranjic signals the end of Leighton Baines time at the club. Granted, Pranjic is a left sided player who is good at crossing, deadballs and getting up and down the flank which does sound like a worryingly similar skillset to Baines. I would say Pranjic and Baines could definitively feature together – after all Moyes tried to sign the Croatian in January so would have envisaged pairing them together in the same side. We also have no like for like player for competition/cover for Baines and this move would satisfy both criteria.
If the approach next season is to continue with Fellaini as the advanced central midfielder – and the data from last season shows it should – then there is a more withdrawn left of centre midfield berth available alongside the right footed Darren Gibson. Sadly, given his injury record you can’t bank on Rodwell being available for more than 15 games. I would therefore see Pranjic’s role more as a midfielder than as a full back.
Pranjic is clearly a versatile player and is equally competent in central midfield or on the left flank. After leaving Dynamo Zagreb, his standout season at Heereneveen in Holland produced a tidy output of 16 goals and 8 assists which would give the impression that he is more comfortable in an advanced midfield position with limited defensive responsibilities. Pranjic has spent the last 3 seasons at Bayern where he alternated between numerous roles, equally comfortable in a defensive or attacking central midfield role, left midfield or as a roving left wing back.
The average position chart ( left) from his final game at Bayern last season against Stuttgart shows him (circled 23) playing in an advanced central midfield role. During the Euro 2012 tournament he was used sparingly and only started the final group game against Spain where he was preferred for his defensive qualities as Bilic’s charges attempted to press the eventual champions into submission – a tactic which almost paid dividends. The average position visual (circled, 6) shows him during this game playing in a left sided midfield role.
Pranjic is comfortable on the ball and that will be needed if we are to kick on in and proactively set out to win games more next season. At Bayern his pass completion in 2010/11 was 82% and last season 86% which is comfortably better than our team average of 77% from last season. As a caveat his stats from 11/12 are dubious given that he only played in a handful of games and only completed 90mins once for Munich in the ECL defeat at Man City. In the previous season (2010/11) when Van Gaal was still coach Pranjic was a key player; he registered 6 assists from 22 starts with a decent 23% crossing accuracy, creating 18 goal scoring chances for team mates in the process. He also takes a mean penalty, although his compatriot Jelavic will most probably have ownership of spot kicks for the forthcoming season.
Pranjic would be a decent buy and add great experience, versatility and quality on the ball to the club should the move materialise. Also, there would be no transfer fee involved and the player is keen on the move. With the club now appearing to be in a ‘can-do-go-situation’ in terms of player recruitment this certainly looks a goer…