Manchester United and Sporting Lisbon have agreed to the purchase of Marcos Rojo on a fee believed to be £16 million, in addition to a season-long loan deal for Nani.
Rojo first signed for Spartak Moscow on a five-year deal back in 2011, but lasted only one season in Russia before moving to Portugal to play for Sporting Lisbon. There, he aided and abetted his side as they finished their campaign as runners up, playing second fiddle to Benfica last season, before his latest move to the Theatre of Dreams.
The 24 year-old had attracted interest from mega-selling English club, Southampton, after a remarkable World Cup 2014 campaign, but failed to agree personal terms, leading to his move to the Barclays English Premier League fall through the cracks.
With his arrival at Manchester United, what will he add to a United defense horribly shy of experience and steel? Well, exactly that.
Truth be told, Rojo is not a blue-chip signing aimed at instantly changing the fortunes of the club, as was the case for Luis Suarez to Liverpool, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG. Instead, just like his teammate, Ander Herrera, the Argentine will be a star for the future but immediately effective.
The versatile defender who operates either as a centre-back or a left sided defender was in impeccable form in Brazil, playing in six of Argentina’s seven games, missing out in their win against Belgium due to suspension.
Rojo brings tenacity and experience to a defense that looked relatively invulnerable during pre-season yet comically porous in their first game of the league against Swansea. It was no secret that the players would have to adapt to manager Louis Van Gaal’s system, with a period of transition and errors on the horizon. However, it was evident that the back three were yet to settle into the unorthodox system – one that Rojo feels comfortably at home in.
Rojo can slot into the team playing as a centre-back or a left-back, possessing the pace to maraud forward when needed. Therefore, his versatility and knowledge of the system will be greatly beneficial. Rojo displays energy, flair and a natural sense of anticipating danger, three qualities United require in a defender. What may concern Van Gaal is his dodgy disciplinary record – Rojo has racked up 20 yellow cards and 4 red cards in just two seasons.
Furthermore, his confidence in keeping the ball and his good distribution sees his as a credible avenue to begin attacks – building from the back. And if he will not build from the back, he will definitely intercept from that area; the Argentine averaged 2.18 interceptions at the World Cup per 90 metrics for Argentina. This highlighted his quality off the ball.
The 24 year-old defender is not only almost impregnable at the back – bar a few occasional errors – but is relatively potent in front of goal, often boasting the composure of a forward. Last season, Rojo scored four goals in 25 appearances for the Portuguese side in 2013/14.
Therefore, Rojo will add experience to an inexperienced back three in Van Gaal’s system, speed as well as calmness and stability as United try and reciprocate their pre-season form into the new season.