Lazio appear to be edging close to their first signing of the summer in the form of Malaga winger Jonathan Rodriguez Menendez, more commonly known as Jony. The 27-year-old Spaniard spent the 2018/19 season on loan with La Liga side Deportivo Alaves and his strong performances with the Basque club have led interest in him to skyrocket. Jony scored four goals and assisted eleven goals in the league and Igli Tare views the Malaga-owned man as a priority to help provide an element of depth to Simone Inzaghi’s squad; allowing the Italian coach to perhaps experiment with alternate formations next season.
Jony – Style of Play
Jony is by all means a conventional left-winger; able to play at both an advanced wing role as well as a deeper, more defensive position. However, it is worth noting that Jony’s capabilities as a wing-back are unproven and, despite his effective passing and crossing abilities, he is not very strong, in a physical sense, and lacks defensive awareness.
That being said, the Spaniard has plenty of attacking qualities that can add an extra dimension to any side. A competent crosser of the ball, Jony pulled off an average of 2 per game for Alaves last season, as well as contributing 1.7 successful long balls per game on average; according to statistics gathered by WhoScored.com. Additionally, he picked up 10 assists and 5 goals during the 18/19 season, equating to roughly one goal contribution per 200 minutes of football.
In addition to his passing abilities, Jony is an offensive threat in other ways. His tricky footwork and speedy pace have led him to average 1.7 successful dribbles per game as well as pulling off 1.5 shots per game; proving his ability to test the keeper as well as supporting his teammates.
Jony – How would he fit in at Lazio?
The question marks surrounding Jony’s role at Lazio are the most complex. As the Spanish winger does not fit in with Inzaghi’s typical 3-5-2/3-5-1-1 formation that has become the trademark of the Italian coach, a move for Jony would signal that Inzaghi is ready to experiment with alternate formations in the upcoming season. Alaves experimented with a wide array of formations in La Liga in the 18/19 season; primarily switching between a 5-4-1, 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 formation; with Jony typically featuring as a standard left-midfielder but pushing further up the left flank when the side began to press the opposition.
There is a chance that using Jony in Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 or 3-5-1-1 could lead to the Biancocelesti being caught out on the left flank. Jony does not have a tendency to track back or get stuck in defensively and therefore he would make more sense to be utilised in a formation with 4 or 5 defenders; where full-backs or wing-backs are already being used. This would allow Jony to break forward and cause the opposition defence issues; not having to worry about being positioned properly.
Jony is therefore useful in the sense that he allows Inzaghi to experiment with his formations; as the club lack a true left-winger. Joaquin Correa can play on the left flank but is more of a second striker and can be effectively utilised in a line-up alongside Lazio’s potential new man; with Correa finding space and the Spanish winger dragging defenders out of position to create the pockets of space for the Argentine to slip into.
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