Atlético Madrid made a number of impressive moves in the summer transfer market, but one that really caught the eye was the acquisition of defensive midfielder Matias Kranevitter from River Plate late on in the window.
Whether you’re a follower of South American football or simply have an interest in young footballing talent worldwide, you will rarely have a discussion about promising future prospects without hearing Kranevitter’s name mentioned.
The 22 year-old has already established himself in Argentina as a typical no. 5, drawing early comparisons in his career to the very man he’ll be playing under for Atleti, Diego Simeone. He was also called up to the national team for the first time last week for friendlies against Bolivia and Mexico.
Sitting infront of the defence, Kranevitter is tasked with controlling the game from the base of the midfield, as well as unsettling the opposition and breaking up attacks.
Going forward as a team, attacks tend to start through Kranevitter as his awareness and accurate passing ability allows him to push the ball forward and control the tempo of the game.
Tackling is quite possibly Kranevitter’s biggest strength. Not only is he consistent with his tackling, he avoids going to ground and lunging into tackles therefore his foul count remains low.
It is this element of his game, combined with his ability to be in the right position at the right time that has led to comparisons with players such as Simeone and Javier Mascherano.
At just 22 years of age, Kranevitter’s ability to read the game so accurately is impressive, and his intelligent positioning allows him to chip in with blocks and interceptions.
Kranevitter is a perfect example of a player tasked with marking a specific zone on the pitch, bossing the the area infront of the defence and igniting attacks from a deep position.
Although he isn’t known for being a playmaker or creating chances, his passing is always accurate and he understands the importance of differentiating between when to break forward quickly, and when to hold on to the ball a little longer.
His stamina is also a major strength, chipping away at opposition players throughout the game but rarely showing signs of tiredness or fatigue.
Kranevitter is not known for his attacking mentality, therefore he loses points when analysing his crossing ability, and as he rarely attempts efforts on goal it is difficult to know whether or not he has the finishing ability or composure to take chances when they fall to him. He is yet to score a goal for club or country, however his defensive abilities make up for his lack of attacking threat.
Not a common trait amongst defensive midfielders, Kranevitter lacks any real pace and occasionally struggles to keep up if he is caught out of position or loses the ball to the opposition.
His strength is also another slight concern, he isn’t as big or as strong as you might expect for a defensive anchor, which may prove problematic when he finds himself up against more physical attacking players.
Where he fits in at Atleti is the next question. Kranevitter could play in the centre of a midfield two next to Koke, holding his position to protect the defence allowing Koke the freedom to roam back and forth. Comparisons have already been made between Kranevitter and Gabi, therefore he may ultimately become the natural successor to Atleti’s captain.
However, depending on the formations Simeone chooses to use moving forward, he may eventually play as the single defensive midfielder sitting just behind two central midfielders and in front of the defence.
One thing is for sure, if Kranevitter can continue his rise as a solid defensive midfielder and transition well to the style of play in La Liga, he has the potential to become one of the top players in the league at his position.
His contract with River Plate runs through to December, therefore Atleti fans have time to familarise themselves with the talents of the Argentinian before witnessing the real thing in the red and white shirt come January.
Can Kranevitter make an immediate impact for Cholo’s men?