Friday, August 21, 2015

The Next Mascherano – Matías Kranevitter

After winning the Copa Sudamericana and Libertadores, it is time to look at a player that had some of the most significant impact on River Plate’s recent successes and who will be transferred to Europe as early as December: Matías Kranevitter.

Roots and the person behind the footballer

Kranevitter, born in San Miguel de Tucumán in May of 1993, received his European sounding surname from his German ancestors and is a family man by all means. Whenever time and schedule allow it, he travels to his hometown village Yerba Buena in the surroundings of Tucumán. In a small football field, improved by Matías himself by adding new metal goals and spotlights, friends and family gather during those times to spend some time with the man who left for Buenos Aires as a boy aged 14 to conquer the football world. Back in the days, he used to earn some extra dollars working as a caddy on the golf course and therewith helping out his parents, who were taking care of 5 more sons on top. His nicknames are “Colorado” and just short “Colo”.

Debut and Beginnings

On December 2nd, 2012, Matías Kranevitter celebrated his debut against Lanús when he played a minute after coming on as a substitute for Rodrigo Mora. Since the game ended 1-0, he won his first ever match for River Plate.
Kranevitter's first full 90 minutes came about half a year later after being called up to the first team for the final few games of the year against San Martín in the Torneo Final's last week. It was the game where he contributed his first and still only assist of his professional career.
From there on out, there was not much looking back for the Argentine, who received significantly more playing time in the following year and became a full time first team player. Starting the year 2014, he played in each but one league game, nine of them over the full distance. The season ended with the league title, ahead of archrival Boca and Estudiantes, just two years after the club had been relegated into the Primera B.

Champion Kranevitter

A couple of months before his first team debut, Matías Kranevitter added the first piece of silverware to his trophy cabinet that got larger ever since. With River's U20 team, he won the Copa Libertadores youth tournament played in Peru. The first professional title came two years later with the aforementioned Argentinian championship. Marcelo Gallardo turned the team into a mean winning machine that specialised in knockout games. Triumphs in Copa Sudamericana, Recopa and Copa Libertadores would follow. The midfielder, aged 22, holds every international trophy possible.

Playing style

Kranevitter is a traditional Argentinian #5. His idol is Fernando Redondo, but his comparable in more recent past would be Javier Mascherano. Experts call him the legitimate successor of the Barcelona star.

Being a defensive midfielder, his strengths lay predominantly in his own half. It shows in the fact that in 74 games, Kranevitter has not scored a single goal yet and assisted just one. The Argentine sets the tempo of his team and distributes the ball to each side beautifully, whether alone or with Leonardo Ponzio alongside of him. To support the centerbacks while defending, he often falls back between them when needed. A huge strength of his is breaking up play by either intercepting the pass or with his tackles which are usually timed particularly well.

On the field you simply recognize him, because his teammates search and want him to have the ball. He is tactically one step too big for the Argentinian league already. With his 1.79m body size, he shows excellent technical qualities on top of it, controls the ball well and avoids opponents before they even know it. Kranevitter has the stamina to do it all in a high tempo throughout the game.

His weaknesses are the obvious ones. With a rather short size, he will not dominate the aerial battles in European midfields. Furthermore, he avoids joining attacks from his defensive position, which results in basically no scorer points. The Argentine needs to work on that and improve his offensive game, then, and I have no doubts about that, he will be a name that will be one of the most sought after in the world.

The future

Reportedly, the player has already given his word or even signed a contract with Atlético Madrid and will join them for about 8 million € in the coming December. It is a transfer that fits into the “System Atlético”, who have done a lot of nice youth work lately. With Diego Simeone, he will find an Argentine coach, who is not unlikely to build on Kranevitter. After all, he is a player for all the dirty work, and any team loves to have them. In addition, his Italian passport makes him even easier to carry for a Spanish team that has a limit on 3 non EU foreigners.

Europe and Atlético Madrid, get ready for the new Mascherano, for Matías ‘Colo’ Kranevitter.


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