Who is Mikel Oyarzabal? The Real Sociedad maverick wanted by Man Utd and Man City

Martin Macdonald
Martin Macdonald Updated: 19 May 2021 16:09 CEST 4 min read
Who is Mikel Oyarzabal? The Real Sociedad maverick wanted by Man Utd and Man City

One player slowly earning a reputation as a superb attacking midfielder in Europe is Real Sociedad star Mikel Oyarzabal.

When David Silva sensationally arrived back in Spain in the summer with Real Sociedad, doubters claimed his return would perhaps hamper the development of Oyarzabal, but the pair have generated a superb understanding

The 23-year-old has kicked on, with a magnificent return of 10 goals and six assists so far in the 2020/21 La Liga season.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed among elite sides across the continent.

What position does Mikel Oyarzabal play in?

This season, Oyarzabal has primarily played as an attacking midfielder on the left-hand side, or on the left of a front three for the Basque side.

He is left-footed, too, so could be viewed as a traditional winger, but this isn’t necessarily true. He isn’t blessed with tremendous pace, but he makes up for this with extreme agility and command of the ball that allows him to weave into dangerous pockets in the final third.

Oyarzabal is comfortable in the middle and also on the right cutting inside on his cultured left foot, but seeing him out there, at least from the start, is a rarity.

Mikel Oyarzabal on his cultured left foot

Mikel Oyarzabal on his cultured left foot

How good is Mikel Oyarzabal?

Oyarzabal has spent his entire professional career with Real Sociedad and, at just 23, is the team’s vice captain, which highlights how well thought of he is in San Sebastian.

The 2020/21 season is a continuation of the excellent form he has displayed pretty much since becoming a key member of the first-team squad. He has scored at least 10 La Liga goals in each of the last four seasons, and added 11 assists to his tally last season alone.

Aside from the bigger teams in the league like Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid, there is an argument to be made that Oyarzabal is actually the star man of the ‘best of the rest’, and Luis Enrique thinks so too as the Spain boss regularly selects him in his La Rioja squad.

This campaign, he has the fifth highest tally for wingers in La Liga for successful crosses sent into the box with 6.3, while he has by far the best tally for big chances created with 10.

The winger with the second-best tally is Darwin Machis on seven.

Though Oyarzabal features on the left wing, he is adept at coming inside on his right foot too.

As you can see from the stats above, his crossing is undoubtedly his best quality.

What clubs are interested in Mikel Oyarzabal?

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is reportedly a big fan of his fellow Spaniard, with the Premier League side strongly linked with a move for Oyarzabal two summers ago.

Regarding that speculation, the player said:“I don’t pay attention at all to those rumours. I am focused in my work at la Real.

“I have never thought about that (playing in another league). I am very young, and I hope to have a long career. I don’t know what the future has prepared for me.”

Man City are, of course, extremely well-stocked in this position now, with Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, and Ferran Torres all able to play at left wing.

So, it remains to be seen whether Guardiola retains an interest in Oyarzabal for now.

Manchester United, also, have been credited with an interest in the player but this one seems unlikely as the acquisition of Oyarzabal would mean moving Marcus Rashford from his favoured position.

If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is planning on making Rashford his starting centre-forward, though, it could happen.

One possibility is also, naturally, Real Madrid. The signing of Eden Hazard has been a disaster, with the Belgian missing the vast majority of his games since signing from Chelsea a few years ago.

With Vinicius Junior flattering to deceive on the left, Oyarzabal would be an ideal solution. However, it is likely that most resources this summer will be going towards either Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland.

When does Mikel Oyarzabal’s contract expire?

Oyarzabal’s current contract runs out in the summer of 2024, and within that deal is a reported £67 million release clause.

What is Mikel Oyarzabal’s Instagram?

Oyarzabal’s Instagram account has 54,000 followers as of March 2021.

Who is Mikel Oyarzabal’s girlfriend?

Oyarzabal is not currently dating anyone publicly.