Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions ATK pulled off a major coup by signing arguably the best attacking midfielder of last season Manuel Lanzarote from FC Goa.
The former Barcelona ‘B’ player proved to be one of the most influential players in Sergio Lobera’s FC Goa last season along with compatriot Ferran Corominas. The Spanish duo scored a whopping 33 goals in the league.
Lanzarote appeared in 19 matches for his side where he scored 13 goals and provided six assists. He was the joint fourth highest goal scorer in ISL along with Kalu Uche, who is now the Spaniard’s teammate at ATK.
Lanzarote offers versatility to the squad, given his ability to play on the wings and in a central role. The midfielder’s commendable statistics automatically elevates the expectations for ATK loyalists this season.
The 34-year-old Spaniard, despite all his wondrous ability on the ball, comes with a certain baggage. He is quite a character both on and off the field and can come across as ill-tempered and someone who gets riled up easily.
Last season during a match between FC Goa and Bengaluru FC in Goa, he was involved in a tussle with Bengaluru custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. While Gurpreet did commit a foul, Lanzarote sparked an ugly confrontation that ultimately saw Gurpreet sent off.
He was also infamous for his unnecessary dives and developed a reputation for going down on the ground under the slightest of touches from the opposition. In a match against Chennaiyin last season, he had an altercation with the referee for not giving a foul. He had even gestured towards the referee to get a pair of glasses.
He was also seen behaving weirdly with Indian players, pushing them around petulantly, during FC Goa's game against Jamshedpur FC.
The midfielder was booked five times last season and had committed 16 fouls! Lanzarote’s temper and on-field antics may become a problem for Steve Coppell’s side this season if kept unchecked.
Also, it has to be kept in mind that Manuel Lanzarote parted ways with FC Goa after a fallout with coach Sergio Lobera. After the end of last season, he had posted on social media that due to a personal problem with the coach he did not want to extend his contract with Gaurs.
This indicates that the Spaniard is not an easy player to work with and ATK boss Steve Coppell must keep that in mind.
If Manuel Lanzarote can keep his temperament, he can be a deadly force who can walk into any ISL team. It is time for Lanzarote to grab the headlines for his footballing skills rather than his attitude.