As his first move as Manchester United manager, David Moyes seems to have made it his priority to improve Manchester United’s midfield with a marquee signing. It seems that Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas is Moyes’ number one target with Real Madrid’s Luka Modric as his second option. Both are world class players, but which one would do better for United in the Premier League? Both have played in the Premier League recently before moving to La Liga, so each’s last season in England will be compared.
While Fabregas and Modric are both midfielders, they have differing playing styles making them. While Fabregas is very versatile, his best position, the one he thrived in under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, is playing in the hole right behind the striker. With Fabregas in this position, he can make the darting energetic runs and play the immaculate through balls that made him the midfield dynamo who was one of the best players in the Premier League. Modric on the other hand, played mainly as a deep lying play maker. In this position, Modric dictated play, sprayed passes all over the pitch, and even played some defense.
Luka Modric won more ground 50-50 balls, as you would expect from someone who plays much deeper, but surprisingly Fabregas actually won them more often, every 7.55 minutes as opposed to Modric’s every 9.51 minutes, and won pretty much the same percentage of them, 48% to 49%. Again in tackling, Modric won more tackles but Fabregas actually won them more often, every 46 minutes as opposed to every 57. The fact that Modric plays deeper really stood out when it came to interception as he had 82 as opposed to Fabregas’s measly 25.
Passing and Passing Zones
Both Fabregas and Modric are known for their passing abilities, but Modric had a slightly better passing percentage in open play, at 85% compared to Fabregas’s 81%, while Fabregas played passes slightly more often, with a pass every .85 minutes compared to Modric playing on every .79 minutes. As you would assume from their positions, Fabregas played passes forward much more often than Modric, with 60% of Fabregas’s passes going forward and only 39% of Modric’s passes being forward passes. 47% of Modric’s passes were sideways while only 29% of Fabregas’s went sideways. Their completion percentage in the attacking area is a different story. Modric’s attacking area completion percentage is 82% compared to Fabregas’s 75% and his final third percentage was 81% compared to 71%.
Creativity and Goal Scoring
Creativity is really where both these midfielders thrive and show they are some of the top players in the world. Modric had more successful dribbles than Fabregas, at 63 to 24, and a better crosser, with a 38% completion percentage compared to 16%. In chance creation, Fabregas had more assists, 11 to four, and clear cut chances, with 13 to nine. Modric created more chances than Fabregas did, 96 to 72, but Fabregas created chances more often than Modric, every 26 minutes compared to every 34 minutes. Modric was also impressive as Tottenham’s set piece taker creating 29 chances from set pieces. Fabregas scored only three goals while Modric scored four but Fabregas scored every 629 minutes while Modric scored every 804. It is noteworthy that, Fabregas has a career high of 15 goals scored in a season, in the Prem, while Modric’s career high was the four he scored in 2011-2012. To be fair to Modric, with Modric playing in a deeper position you would expect Fabregas to score more often. Fabregas also shot more often, getting a shot of every 38 minutes as opposed Modric with one every 68 minutes, and Modric had a better conversion rate, of 9% compared to Fabregas’s 6%.
Manchester United need an upgrade in the centre of midfield and both of these guys would be huge upgrades. Moyes would do well to get either of these players to Old Trafford because they are both world class players that can slot into any Premier League midfield at the moment. Currently, neither of these rumours look very likely, but if either player comes in they can drastically improve United’s midfield and help their chances of defending their Premier League crown.