Having only featured once in preseason for Real Madrid, Mariano Diaz appears headed for the exit door despite his desire to stay.
Evidently not seen as a part of Zinedine Zidane’s plans, Los Merengues’ loss could be AS Monaco’s gain, as Leonardo Jardim is reportedly extremely keen on securing Diaz’s services for the season ahead.
For the man who rejoined Madrid last term after a successful 2017/2018 campaign with Olympique Lyon, where he scored an impressive 21 goals in all competitions, he struggled to replicate this form at Los Blancos. Only managing four goals across his 19 appearances of which only three were starts, it was a forgettable season for him. Not helped by injuries, Madrid’s managerial issues and the heavy competition for places, Diaz just couldn’t gain any real traction.
Familiar with Ligue 1 and possessing an exciting set of attributes, he’d unquestionably be a handy addition for Monaco.
To start with his finishing, and the clinical Diaz is very accomplished in this regard, for he’s capable of scoring a wide array of goals. Superb in 1v1 situations with the keeper, he remains composed when slotting his finishes with precision. It’s also notable how if he doesn’t see an opening between the keeper’s legs or to their side, he’ll dribble around them to increase his chances of scoring into an open net.
Diaz’s composed, classy finish
Fantastic at reading the ball’s flight and velocity, he reacts sharply to meet crosses and cutbacks. Be it with a diving header, using his enviable leap to power above his man or by using the ball’s pace to guide the ball home, he excels in these instances.
Diaz’s amazingly timed leap and header
On top of having a wicked long shot that’s seen him score some incredible efforts from range, his finesse to apply lofted, dinked or chipped finishes only amplifies his worth.
Wonderful long range finish
An intelligent mover inside the box, this provides him with a solid foundation to get into advantageous positions. So good at knowing when to hold his run to be free to receive a cutback, burst centrally into the box or to attack the back post, his anticipation skills ensure he’s a tough man to contain.
Holding his run cleverly to be an option for the cutback
Brilliantly timed run inside the box
By zig zagging, targeting his runs between defenders and attacking the blindside, he obtains vital separation to get the room he needs to get on the end of deliveries.
Wicked zig zag run to get goalside
Diaz’s smart blindside run before heading home
Accompanying the afore with his runs in behind, he directs and angles his movement effectively to latch onto through balls over the top. Also possessing searing pace and great desire, his deep threat is another important aspect of his.
Superbly timed run in behind
While he doesn’t come short or push out wide too often, there’s been many occasions where he’s found space between the lines to link play or rotated cleanly with his wide players. This has crucially created space for colleagues and caused markings issues for defenders, so it’s something he could do more of.
Diaz smartly occupying space between the lines
If not in a position to be used, he’s smartly recognised when to pin or draw a tracker so a colleague can be found in a better location. Persistently catching markers off guard and always probing, the speedy and strategic Diaz is a real handful for any defender to contain.
To touch again on Diaz’s aerial prowess, and this is also vital in terms of winning flick ons and knock downs to teammates and ensuring he’s a brilliant outlet for goal kicks and long passes. Indeed, this ability to help his team win second balls in advanced areas can be so useful, for it allows colleagues to position themselves nearby to be first to recover possession and catch opponents on the back foot.
In terms of his technical qualities, Diaz can hold the ball up and link play decently with his back to goal, where his touch and control usually serve him well. Aside from his finishing, his powerful dribbling is his next best weapon. Fast and direct, he relishes bursting upfield using feints, plus smart variations in pace and direction, to get at his man. Standing 180 cm and with a muscular frame, his strength means he’s a difficult customer to push off the ball as he rides challenges well and fends of foes off with his arms, body and shoulders.
The way he can spin away from danger with his ball carrying is another aspect worth mentioning, with this allowing him to keep the ball while under pressure before finding a colleague or drawing a foul.
Looking at his numbers from the 2017/2018 season, his 0.56 goals per game, 3.41 shots pg, 3.18 touches inside the box pg, 1.60 dribbles pg, 1.26 won aerial duels pg, 1.13 progressive runs pg and 0.67 shot assists pg demonstrate how good he is when giving regular minutes.
With the likes of AS Roma and Galatasaray also interested in snapping up the imposing striker, it’ll be intriguing to see where he ends up.
After his frustrating campaign with Real Madrid, the move to Monaco would surely be a good one, where he’d get excellent service from Cesc Fabregas and be able to gain valuable first team action. Working under the tactically astute Jardim should also work wonders for him on his quest to return to peak form.
Only time will tell what happens, but if he does decide leaving Madrid is his best option, Monaco will be at the ready to pounce.