Aston Villa’s new midfield maestro Leandro Bacuna is a typical Paul Lambert signing, which at the moment appears to be ‘young and unheard of’ That is until you scratch the surface and dig a bit deeper. As usual, to find out the positive or negative on Lambert’s mystery men, we’ve sought council with sources from the player’s home land.
There’s not a lot online to make Leandro Bacuna feel like a ‘wow’ signing, if you do a quick google search of the 21-year-old. He spent 10 years at his hometown club FC Groningen, after signing as a 10-year-old. He played 109 league games in Eridivisie scoring 14 goals. There’s no flashy Youtube videos, no big transfer rumours surrounding him. So an Dutch insight was certainly needed on Villa’s new acquisition.
Mlaz Corbier, columnist for Groningen’s biggest fansite ‘FCG Online’ spoke of his ‘disappointment’ regarding Bacuna’s departure.
“This truly is a steal for Aston Villa, especially after hearing how much the claret and blue paid for him! When playing as a box-to-box midfielder last season, the team finally started to play and create opportunities. Bacuna (alongside Rasmus Lindren) was the true engine of the struggling team and were the only salvation of a dreadful season.”
However, Corbier also explained how Bacuna hasn’t always been able to express himself in a Groningen shirt. He berates the previous two managers for “abusing the youngster’s versatility” when they should really have been building the team around him.
It is often very difficult when you have a player able to do a good job in a number of positions. Manchester United’s Phil Jones is a good example of an exceptional young talent who is perhaps being stunted by his ability to play a number of different positions. When we spoke to Groningen TV, they put us in touch with Nico Swart who also labelled Bacuna’s versatility as a potential problem, rather than a benefit.
“Last season he played in many positions (right defender, defensive midfielder, right winger, left winger, striker), sometimes he excelled, sometimes he was unsure. I think it would be best for his development if he gets a permanent position in the squad and plays week in week out.”
Swart also labels Bacuna’s attributes as “strong, hardworking and athletic.” He is capable of shooting from distance and does a lot of running but can sometimes be quite rash at times. Nathan Baker syndrome springs to mind there.
Both Swart and Corbier also highlight Bacuna as a set piece specialist, claiming he had never missed a spot kick for Groningen whilst at the club. It’s unlikely he’ll be wrestling Benteke off penalties though, providing our enigmatic striker commits his future to the club that is…
All in all we seem to have acquired an unpolished gem – an excellent athlete with good technique and ability. In a midfield three, he would have the engine to get up and down the pitch and whilst he shouldn’t be moved around too much, he does have the potential to provide cover in effectively every position on the pitch apart from centre half and goalkeeper.
According to our Dutch sources, we should be excited by his potential and expect to hear ‘Bacuna Matata’ to the tune of Lion King from the terraces!
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