Yerry Mina emerged as Colombia’s hero at the World Cup. As a centre-back, defending is his day job, but the Barcelona man scored three vital goals to ensure his team made the Round of 16, before they were cruelly knocked out on penalties by England.
He was a somewhat known commodity after Blaugrana made him a surprise signing this January, and despite his success in Russia, speculation is rife that that Catalonia club want to sell him.
Here, our scouting report shows what the 23-year-old would bring to a new side as a host of Premier League teams chase his signature.
WORLD CUP OVERVIEW
Mina was left out of the XI for Colombia’s first game, as Oscar Murillo was preferred as Davinson Sanchez’s partner against Japan – a game that Colombia lost 2-1.
However, he made an instant impact after manager Jose Pekerman brought him into the side for the second group stage clash, the crucial fixture against Poland. His goal late in the first-half broke a goalless contest, while his defending later helped Colombia pick their opponents off on the counter in a 3-0 win. He then scored the only goal of his side’s 1-0 win over Senegal that guaranteed their passage into the Round of 16.
Mina saved the best for last, scoring a dramatic injury-time equaliser against England to take the knockout clash into extra-time, where Colombia ultimately lost on penalties.
RATINGS FROM THE ARCHIVE
Poland 0-3 Colombia
Broke the deadlock in the first-half with what would soon become a trademark goal, a close-range header from a corner-kick that allowed Colombia to control their crucial clash against the Poles. 7
Senegal 0-1 Colombia
Scored the goal that guaranteed Colombia’s spot in the Round of 16, showing his set-piece prowess again. Solid in defence as well. 8
Round of 16
Colombia 1 England 1 (England won 4-3 on penalties)
Three goals in three games. How can you argue with that? Capable defender but monster at set-pieces. 7
WORLD CUP IN NUMBERS
Mina has little recent club form to speak of, as he was sparingly used during his first few months at Barcelona. After arriving in January, he made only six appearances across competitions (including the 5-4 unbeaten streak defeat to Levante), and he’s been deemed surplus to requirements despite a good World Cup.
Prior to joining Barca, Mina had a solid season at Brazilian club Palmeiras, where he made 27 appearances across competitions in 2017, scoring five times and showing enough promise to earn a move to La Liga. He had helped Palmeiras win the Brazilian championship in his first season at the club, in 2016.
Aerial ability – Mina is a towering presence in both boxes. He helped keep strikers as accomplished as Robert Lewandowski and Harry Kane quiet at the World Cup – in fact, the only goal Colombia conceded with him in their XI was a Kane penalty.
But where he truly made his reputation was in the opposition box, as he always found a way to score.
At the moment, it’s difficult to see a clear weakness in Mina’s game. But there was a sense at Barcelona that he didn’t have the technical ability to cut it at the Camp Nou, and it’s true that he can look awkward at times.
The other knock against the Colombian is that he’s raw. At 23, he’s certainly far from the finished article, and any club he joins will have to handle growing pains the young defender may have to go through.
Everton, under new management with Marco Silva, have registered their interest in Mina and it’s easy to see why.
He could serve as a player who challenges Michael Keane for one of the starting centre-back spots, with the Englishman having been erratic in his first season for the Toffees. The two could also play together – having a young centre-back nucleus (Keane is 25) is never a bad thing. It could be risky, but equally, they could feed off each other and become a strong partnership. If not, Mina and Phil Jagielka could make for a solid pairing, with the young recruit learning from the veteran.
Another good fit for Mina would be at Tottenham, where he would play alongside international colleague Davinson Sanchez. The duo have already proven that they play well together.
Meanwhile, with Jan Vertonghen 31, and Toby Alderweireld possibly on his way out of the club, Spurs could use some new blood at centre-back. And he seems like a typical Mauricio Pochettino defender – tough-nosed but a composed presence at the heart of the backline.
Manchester United are also looking to reinforce their rearguard, and Mina would be a good signing. He may not be expected to start straight away, which would help him settle in. His strength and ability in the air mark him out as a player Jose Mourinho would love to coach, and once he’s ready, he could challenge some of United’s incumbent centre-backs to climb up the pecking order.
Any one of those players who would start above him would also make for good defensive partners for the Colombian. The goal threat he and Chris Smalling, in particular, would provide would be a tempting prospect.
Bale, 29, voiced his displeasure at a lack of starts in the immediate aftermath of his two-goal salvo off the substitutes’ bench during Los Blancos’ 3-1 victory against Liverpool in May’s Champions League final.
The Wales forward was then linked with a return to the North London club, whom he departed from in September 2013 for a reported world-record €100 million fee.
But Bale’s current wages and transfer valuation appear prohibitive, plus this month’s exit of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus looks to have greatly increased his standing at Santiago Bernabeu.
“I think it’s not realistic,” Pochettino told reporters after Spurs were beaten on penalties by Barcelona in the International Champions Cup.
“I think we’re going to [complete deals], sure, [we’ll] see what happens in the next few days. If you say we need to sign, maybe, but with or without injuries that was our target after we finished last season – to add some players with qualities that can help us achieve all that we want.
“After many years in football, I think nothing’s going to change if you have different moods or humour. You need to be relaxed, working hard. My focus is trying to help the team and develop the way we want to play and arrive in the best condition to start the season. Nothing’s going to change if I changed my behaviour or the way I act.
“I’m not going to talk about targets or names. We’ll see in the next few weeks.”
Bale scored 55 times in 203 games for Spurs from 2007-13. At Madrid, he’s notched 88 goals in 189 appearances.
The summer transfer window for all international deals is in full flow.
With the transfer rumours growing in pace and volume during this ‘silly season’, it can be difficult and painstaking to separate the stories of some legitimacy from the rest of the noise.
Fortunately, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do it for you.
Below, you’ll find some of the latest transfer news churned out of our Rumour Mill broken down and analysed for your benefit along with our calculated predictions.
Why it will happen: The Wales international’s future at the Emirates is far from certain, and with his current deal expiring in 2019, he has yet to reach an agreement with the Gunners over a new contract. It seems as though the club are not desperate to keep him.
Why it won’t happen: That said, Ramsey has revealed he is prepared to stay, fight for his place under Unai Emery and convince the Arsenal board he deserves a lucrative contract.
Prediction: A switch to Arsenal’s London neighbours wouldn’t necessarily appease Gunners fans nor would his signing strike a chord among Chelsea’s supporters. Nevertheless, it seems like a deal that would benefit most parties.
Rating – 7/10
Why it will happen: The towering Colombian centre-half has been deemed surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou and Blaugrana are happy to move him on.
Why it won’t happen: Everton have been in the hunt for the 23-year-old while United would apparently prefer Harry Maguire over Mina. Those two factors could have a big influence on this prospective transfer.
Prediction: Mina is certainly leaving Catalonia but his next destination is up in the air at the moment. The defender would though likely jump at the chance to join the Red Devils.
Rating – 8/10
Wolves are set to make a surprise move for Real Madrid legend Pepe, who currently plies his trade with Besiktas in Turkey.
Why it will happen: Newly-promoted Wolves have recruited well this summer and the acquisition of someone of Pepe’s experience and pedigree would prove to be invaluable for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.
Why it won’t happen: At 35, the Los Blancos cult hero may feel a move to the Premier League has arrived too late in his career given the pace of the game in England. Despite their spending, Pepe might also be of the opinion that Wolves isn’t exactly a step up.
Prediction: This transfer doesn’t seem to have much legs to run and run at the moment.
Rating – 5/10