Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas both joined Manchester City in the summer from Sevilla with different reactions from fans. Navas early summer buy was heralded as a real coup, a player who could offer genuine width. During Mancini’s tenure in charge, City had often played with inverted wingers with no real wide option available. The signing of Navas was seen as catalyst for change at City. Later on in the window, City secured the signing of Alvaro Negredo. Not the most fashionable striker, it was hard to see what Negredo would offer that Edin Dzeko already didn’t. Like Spurs new signing Roberto Soldado, Negredo had spell at Real Madrid in his younger years. Many young Spanish strikers then have to recreate their careers at the less fashionable clubs, something Negredo has done excellently.
So with two differing reactions to the signings, the two Spaniards have had two differing starts to their City careers. Navas, the man expected to be the more important signing of the two, has not had the start he would have wanted. The winger started City’s first three games but has only started one since. He has contributed two assists, both from open play, which for most players is a decent return. What has been most disappointing is Navas’ failure to take men on. He has only attempted two dribbles this season and had as crossing accuracy of 33%. In comparison Negredo has attempted ten dribbles and had a crossing accuracy of 40%. It has to be put into context that the two players play differing positions, but City fans would have hoped to have seen Navas flying down the wing attacking the fullback this season.
Negredo on the other hand has had a good start to his City career. The striker has formed a strong partnership with Sergio Aguero, starting six games for City this season. He has managed four Premier League goals as well as two assists, showing the all-round ability that he possesses. He has created seven chances from open play, which is two more than his compatriot Navas. The argument to explain Negredo’s strong start is that his style suits English football. Negredo is very much a traditional number 9, capable of holding up the ball, but also capable of deft touches. It is this link up play that has seen his pairing with Aguero flourish. In his short time in the Premier League, Negredo has shown that he can be a real asset for Manchester City.
Why Navas has struggled is yet to be explained. A typical chalk on your boots winger, Navas should also be prospering in the English game. Often he has not been given the ball in advanced positions out wide as players like David Silva and Samir Nasri tend to want to come inside. This concentration on attacking through the centre has been a part of City’s games for the last few seasons and changing this strategy may take some time. It is too soon to call Navas a flop, there is still much football to play this season and in the next few seasons he has been signed for. It is clear however that Navas will need to adjust to the Premier League. Navas is a player who did not manage a single league goal for Sevilla last season and only scored 35 goals in his 401 career appearances. As assists are the bulk of his contribution, he will need to be providing these often to establish himself in the City side.