MOMS La Liga enthusiast Shelley with the added insight of a Spanish football journalist looks at what Antonio Luna will bring to the Villa defence.
By Shelley Osbourne
Bodymoor Heath braced itself for another new arrival as Sevilla’s left back Antonio Luna touched down in sunny old Birmingham. But will he be the final piece to finally sure up Villa porous defence?
Luna becomes Paul Lambert’s fifth signing of the summer, yes fifth, and its not even July yet. Aston Villa’s previous manager Martin O’Neill would probably still be on a beach somewhere in late June, filling out the Times crossword whilst asking his wife to rub suncream onto his back, but things are a little different this summer.
Villa have thus far handled the transfer window in a brisk business-like manner, identifying targets early and capturing players with minimal fuss. More often than not the selling club have been the first to announce that a transfer is taking place rather than Villa themselves, as has happened in the case of Antonio Luna, the 22-year-old Spanish left back.
Luna has played most of his football at the celebrated Sevilla academy where famous ex-graduates include Real Madrid vice captain Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas and Diego Capel. In fact, Diego Capel was one of the first well-wishers to tweet the young left-back good luck in his new adventure with the claret and blues this week.
Luna, as you might know by now, represented Spain in various youth teams before being promoted to the Sevilla first team squad in 2010 at the age of 19. The youngster was loaned out in 2011 and played 13 games during an unsuccessful attempt to save neighbouring Andalusian side Almeria from relegation.
Following a return to Sevilla, where the ever present Fernando Navarro has occupied the left-back spot since 2008, Luna joined Mallorca on loan again in January 2013 where he lined up in defence alongside Aston Villa’s Alan Hutton. It is not beyond the imagination to think that Paul Lambert and his staff perhaps first noticed Antonio Luna whilst making a check on the performances of the Villa loanee Alan Hutton.
On the final day of the 2012 / 2013 La Liga season, Mallorca were perhaps a little unlucky to be relegated following an impressive 4-2 away victory at Valladolid. Mallorca often played better football than their results deserved and were at times wasteful in front of goal as Hemed, Arizmendi and Giovani Dos Santos failed to take their chances.
Antonio Luna displayed a workman-like attitude while with Mallorca during the few games I saw him play and adapted well when Mallorca were under pressure. The young Spanish full-back contributed competently to Mallorca’s attacking plays, but didn’t really stand out as a attacking full-back. Having only seen a handful of games played by the Andalusian left-back, I consulted a football journalist based in Barcelona who provided me with a little more information.
He described Luna as a good team player who works hard for his team. The 22-year-old Spaniard apparently has a pleasant personality and he will cause no problems for boss Paul Lambert in the dressing room, but it is thought that perhaps Luna lacks the pure technique, by comparative Spanish standards, that many top-shelf Spanish imports such as Mata, Silva and Cazorla possess.
I was told to expect 7/10 performances with room to improve, particularly defensively. Luna is willing to work hard and listen to his manager’s instructions, which might suggest that he can improve the defensive side of his game alongside other rookie full-backs at the club Matt Lowton and Joe Bennett. Both of which, who are still on a steep learning curve.
In summary, Villa have a new full back who will provide the manager with added depth in his defensive options for next season. Luna’s arrival will also delight La Liga fans who have felt Paul Lambert should look to Spain for a few bargains this summer. UTV
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