If WhoScored.com’s statistics are anything to go by then we can first and foremost expect plenty of classic wing play. The 27-year-old has toiled away in La Liga for a Sevilla side experiencing some of its darkest times, but this has taken nothing away from Navas’ progression as a player.
Throughout the years we’ve become accustomed to Navas flying down the right wing with blistering pace, attacking opponents directly with speed and skill. This remains a huge part of the player’s game, and this is shown by the fact that he’s made the most accurate crosses in La Liga this season when excluding corners - finding a teammate on 51 occasions. The end product is there and Navas in all honesty rarely frustrates. Instead he’s found a decisive edge to his creative play. Manchester City attempted 23 crosses per game last season, which was the 11th most in the league, so we can no doubt expect to see that average increase.
Sevilla don’t play with that natural creator and instead used Navas as their main outlet, cutting inside from the right flank and playing in teammates in the final third. This has been the major development to his game. Rather than remain as just a traditional winger, Navas’ play has developed due to his talent but also through necessity, as it’s only so long before such a blatant style gets found out. He’s managed six assists this season, which is the second most at Sevilla, while his tally of 12 last season was the most by any Spanish player in the league. He also managed 2.5 key passes per game last season, while this season he managed an impressive 2.1.
Goals have been the main issue within Navas’ game, and without doubt it’s the one area he needs to improve massively on. His 80 shots without scoring this season was more than any other goalless player in Europe’s top 5 leagues. It’s clearly not for want of trying, as Navas notched up 2.2 efforts per game as he took up some useful positions, but the accuracy and power behind his shots was absent at times. City had the 2nd most accurate shots on target last season, with 6.1, and to maintain that figure Navas needs to improve his contribution in that sense, with only 29 of his aforementioned 80 efforts (36%) testing the opposing keeper. He’s not shy of hard work and commitment, however, so from day one of training he’ll be focusing on this area of weakness.
Being a winger, Navas of course carries the ball frequently, and with his 1.7 successful dribbles per game he’ll add another dimension to the team. That was perhaps the aim when signing Scott Sinclair and Adam Johnson, but in Navas they’ll get a much higher amount of quality. City made 7.8 successful dribbles per game last season, which was the 6th most in the league, and again we can expect to see an increase here. Indeed, only Sergio Aguero (1.9) completed more dribbles per game at City last season.
Defensively Navas has improved too, as he comes to acknowledge the all round duties a player must carry out. Now at 27-years-old, of course, this maturity was to be expected. His pace is excellent on the back foot and he can offer good support to the full-back, who in this instance is set to be Pablo Zabaleta. His 1.4 tackles per game at Sevilla was the most of all of their attacking players, continuing on from his impressive 1.8 per game the season before.
Overall the most enthusing aspect for City fans with this signing is in two regards to the team; they add a natural, classic winger to their ranks while at the same time offering more dimension. Rather than being bogged down with an abundance of playmakers, or alternate strikers, City will have the option of Navas and his ability to play direct.
He plays no other way than down the throats of defences, engineering those gaps to sprint in and putting everyone on the back foot. He’s especially proficient with 10 yards of space in front of him, where David Silva’s vision could be vital in picking his countryman out, analysing his every run. Navas is a frequent runner and rarely static, basing much of his game on aggressive attacking. If the balance and control that Pellegrini desires can be added too, as well as that finishing, we should be talking about another successful Spanish import to England.