The Spanish press wire is rife with the news that Sevilla left-back Antonio Luna is set to sign for Aston Villa, after Marca reported Villa have had a €1.7million offer accepted.
The 22-year-old spent half of the 2012-13 season on loan at Mallorca in an effort to find regular first-team football, but did in fact start and win the Copa del Rey final vs. Atletico Madrid in 2010.
At €1.7 million, it represents another Paul Lambert bargain, but what can we expect from the little-known Spaniard? Here’s a breakdown of his style, strengths and weaknesses.
Luna plays primarily as a left-back, but has been known to cameo at left-wing due to his attacking tendencies.
He’s as you would expect from a Spanish U21 international on the ball—calm, composed and eager to drive forward. His quick feet allow him to play smooth give-and-goes, while he’s always looking for the positive ball.
Sometimes he comes across as too eager, perhaps forcing passes between the lines that carry a high risk factor or don’t look fully “on.”
He’s great in tight spaces, trusts his ability on the ball and rarely panics by lumping it; his inexperience is both a positive and a negative here, as there are some cases when he truly should be getting rid of it Alan Hutton-style.
When his teammates are on the ball, he provides an outlet. Happy to get his foot on it and get involved, he is adept at creating angles for his centre-backs to use. He does this by drifting forward 5-10 yards ahead of the ball player when possible, stretching the marking system the opponents use.
Mallorca favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation, but their avenue for attack depended largely on which flank Giovani dos Santos was on. Favouring the right more often than not, it was Hutton who saw more of the ball in attacking areas, not Luna.
Even still, he was adept at keeping the formation balanced and wide, stretching the pitch and creeping forward when possible. Villa currently host a similar situation, with Matthew Lowton heavily favoured going forward.
When given time in possession, Luna is adept at cutting inward to find space, starting attacks and playing cross-field balls—the latter being a valuable trait given that Lowton can do the same.
Defensively, he has work to do.
He represents the polar opposite in tendencies to current incumbent Joe Bennett, and while many Villa fans will draw positives from that, he represents an incredibly raw and instinctive project.
When his side retreat off the ball, Luna’s a little rash in stepping out to meet his marker.
Rather than hide behind the nearest centre-back á la Bennett, he steams forward and engages too early, leaving holes. A dedicated defensive midfielder will be able to plug the gap, and the similarity in systems should help, but Luna can find himself a whopping 10-12 yards too far forward.
Lucky he has the pace to recover.
At 5’9″ he’s understandably shy in an aerial sense, but holds his ground well nonetheless.
Squawka clocked Luna at an average of seven defensive actions per game, a 73 percent pass success rate and a total of eight chances created throughout his time on loan at Mallorca.
Battling in a relegated side, the team’s downward trajectory affected his score. But he always came across as a confident, positive, creative outlet. Luna appears a summer of defensive coaching away from being a truly all-encompassing prospect at left-back for Villa.
Topics: Antonio Luna