Le50 2017 – Emanuel Mammana

Mammana OL

Over the years the nation of Argentina has gifted the world with numerous talented playmakers from Diego Maradona to Juan Román Riquelme, Ariel Ortega to some chap named Lionel Messi.

They’ve also provided their fair share of cultured central defenders and if Emanuel Mammana goes on to fulfill his undoubted potential then Lyon have got themselves a player who could form a handy partnership with Mouctar Diakhaby for years to come.

Though this season arguably hasn’t been quite the breakout for Mammana compared to Diakhaby, the Argentine, signed from River Plate, won’t take adversity lying down. Indeed the young defender has had to deal with far more serious setbacks, losing his mother when he was just  six years old and then his father in 2011 when he was 15. It would have been understandable had he hung up his boots then and there but with the help of his family and teammates Mammana continued and went on to become only the second player in Argentinian history to make his international bow before making a first team appearance for his club (ironically coming on as substitute for his one predecessor, Javier Mascherano, against Slovenia in 2014).

Mammana’s quality was convincing enough for Lyon to take a punt, reportedly beating Chelsea to his signature in the process.

This ball-playing centre back has played a total of 24 games for Lyon in all competitions in what has been a campaign blighted by injury. More often than not Mammana has had to be content watching from the sidelines behind Nicolas Nkoulou and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, witnessing OL’s impressive commitment to kamikaze defending first-hand. In the league campaign Lyon kept a total of only 13 clean sheets and five of those came when Mammana played the full 90 minutes. It’s not by any means an indicator that he is a surefire solution to plug Lyon’s leaky defence but it’s not a statistic to dismiss out of hand either.

If Bruno Génésio’s description of the defender is anything to go by then Mammana could be the player to ease if not solve Lyon’s defensive issues. Upon signing the Argentine and handing him the number 4 top Génésio was extremely positive:

“Florian Maurice had been watching him for some time. I saw his qualities while watching videos of a few of his performances. He fits the bill, with strong defensive capacities in the challenge but also the on-ball skills to play it out of defence. It’s important to have players like him, who can get the ball out of defence quickly and create overlaps. He’s a very talented young player and he has massive potential. Everyone at the club believes in him.”

And it’s not just the OL head coach who rates the young defender, with rumours suggesting that Mammana’s countryman Mauricio Pochettino would like to bring him to Spurs.

It’s not hard to see why Génésio and Pochettino rate the 21-year-old. Like the best Argentinian defenders Mammana, as the OL boss described, is not afraid to make a tough tackle and then distribute the ball with a minimum of fuss. What really stands out is the calmness and serenity that Mammana possesses when in possession: he brings the ball out with an air of grace and assuredness – qualities that would be useful in Lyon’s backline.

If Mammana can steer clear of injury next campaign and reproduce the performances that convinced Lyon to sign him the indications are that he can at the very least help tighten a very leaky backline.

Thariq Amir

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