Reports in Spain have linked Manchester United with a move for Valencia defender Jose Gaya. They state that United want to add the Spaniard as a left-back option in the upcoming January transfer window.
The left-back has long been seen as someone who will go onto play regularly for the Spanish national team, with Jordi Alba now 30. Gaya though is currently 24 and has been at Valencia since he was a kid.
A product of the youth academy at the Mestalla, the defender has played a total of 204 times in all competitions for the club. He has scored three and has racked up a tally of 21 assists. He made his debut in the Copa del Rey in 2012-13 and has come leaps and bounds since then.
He isn’t a flamboyant full-back like Andy Robertson or Marcelo. He is a very sound defender and likes to balance both the qualities out to perfection. He isn’t the best assister or provider, but Gaya is a very good crosser of the ball.
So far this season, he has made 2.6 tackles per game – a reflection of his defensive ability. He has completed 1 cross per game too (via WhoScored).
Since he has been linked with United, a comparison with Luke Shaw comes naturally. The Englishman, who is currently out injured, was the club’s Player of the Season last term. The manner in which he returned from the double fracture and multiple injury issues impressed many, even though the former Southampton man is defensively suspect sometimes.
This season, his injury issues have come back. Shaw has played only thrice this season, because of that.
But last season, he played 29 times in the Premier League and scored once, assisting four times. Gaya scored once, assisted once last season. Those numbers, on paper, show that Shaw is much more attack-minded than the Spaniard.
Gaya loves a tackle and last season, he made more tackles than Shaw (2.7 to 1.9). But Shaw played more passes per game than Gaya (41.5 to 57.2). He also played more key-passes per game than Gaya (1.1 to 0.8) (Via Whoscored)
It shows that Shaw is more technical and likes to get on the ball more than Gaya. While the Valencia man likes to go about the same jobs with slightly less keenness and determination.
Gaya’s injury record is much cleaner, but he has also missed 43 games due to injury since the start of his career in the first-team. That is not too promising a figure, but it is an accumulation of numbers from about seven years. It is bound to be big.
A lot depends on what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants in his full-backs. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a more defensive-minded full-back, while Shaw was Solskjaer’s first choice when he was fit. This could point towards the suggestion that the Norwegian prefers to have one offensive full-back and one defensive full-back.
But now that he has already found the combination for himself in Wan-Bissaka and Shaw, a potential signing like Gaya might have settle for a second-choice spot at Old Trafford. At the age of 24, the Spaniard might not want that.