QPR have been a busy lot this summer. Coming off a decent season in the Championship, where they finished 4th, the London side has been busy strengthening its squad for a gruelling season ahead. Mauricio Isla, one of their recruits has given up the “Old Lady” of Italy, Juventus, to test his mettle in English conditions. Having won the Serie A with Juventus, the Chilean has made the move in the hope of more playing time. Last season, he started just 10 games and at the age of 26, that is not an adequate amount of playing time. Part of an impressive Chile team at the World Cup, Isla will be on loan at Loftus Park for the season.
A product of Universidad Catolica’s youth system, Isla came into the spotlight with his performances in the 2007 Under-20 World Championships. Impressed with him, Udinese brought the Chilean to Italy by tying him up on a five-year deal. Marcelo Biesla, the then manager of Chile soon joined the admirers list and handed him his national debut in a friendly against Switzerland in 2007. What’s interesting is that Isla had never started a game at the senior level before making his debut for Chile. However, soon after making his senior debut, the player established himself at Udinese and has since gone from strength to strength.
Often deployed as a right wing-back, the player can also play full-back as well as the right side of midfield. Though Redknapp did use the 4-4-2 formation extensively last season, we could see a change of tactics by Harry to accommodate the talent at his hands. The 26 year-old will be looking to add solidarity to a defence that has been notorious for shipping goals as well as add depth to their attack.
The Chilean has been impressive in attack when afforded a chance at Juventus. He clocked an impressive pass completion in excess of 80%, which is amongst the top bracket performers in that category. The Chilean has been hailed for his attacking prowess. He has shown good pace and has a penchant for finding his teammates in key areas. Over the season, he made close to 1.5 key passes per 90 minutes. He has also shown an ability to deliver good crosses into the box. In the last season, he recorded 3 assists, creating chances at an average of 1.75 per 90 minutes, which is a very impressive figure. While the player does like to have a go at goal, his last goal for club and country came back in 2011-12. For a player of his pace, he recorded just 11 take-ons through the season. While he could have afforded that a team like Juventus with the likes of Pogba, Vidal and Pirlo setting him up in good positions, he will have to tussle a lot more at his new found home.
He has built a reputation going forward and that is his strongest attribute. However, the player has also shown good defensive abilities and is very combative. He was good in the air as well as on the ground, winning a decent percentage of the duels he entered into. He also made more than 1 interception every 90 minutes to derail the attacks. While he has clocked a good number of clearances per 90 minutes, his blocking was poor. Coming to a team like QPR, which could be struggling for survival, he will have to improve his blocking abilities as wingers will be looking to find the strikers with their crosses.
One of the key areas in which the player has drawn some flak is his discipline. He commits fouls very often and that could be an issue. He needs to work on his ability to be tidier going into duels to avoid conceding set-pieces in critical areas. He has also been hauled up for his lack of concentration at times, something that a club like QPR can ill-afford. Every wing-back has to find the right balance between attack and defence and Redknapp, as well as Isla, will be hoping that they can find the balance at the earliest.
The move to QPR will present the Chilean a challenge of adaptability. Not only will he be required to adapt to new playing conditions, he will also be required to adapt to a totally different club than his previous employers. From fighting for the Serie A title to possibly fighting to stay up in the league could be a totally new proposition for the player. He will be required to buck-up his defensive contribution, while also directing his attacking impetus towards that odd crucial goal. Only on a loan, the resolve of the player to make an impact will also be tested. However, he will know that not only his present employers, but his past bosses will be keeping a keen eye on his performances. He will undoubtedly be eager to impress.