With confirmation of his return to Wigan seemingly imminent and Wigan circles on Twitter ablaze with Paul Scharner-related discussion, we take a look at what promises to be an intelligent piece of business by Roberto Martinez.
1) Wigan needs an experienced centre-back
We’ll start with the obvious. The long-term injury to Ivan Ramis and continuing absence of Antolin Alcaraz have placed Martinez in a pickle. Roman Golobart did admirably in his league debut yesterday but is still unproven at this level. An up-and-coming centre back on loan such as Sebastian Coates would be better than nothing, but what Latics really need is someone who knows their way around the league and can slot in seamlessly. At 32, with some seven Premier League seasons under his belt, Scharner is just that.
2) The loan move suits both parties
With Gary Caldwell, Maynor Figueroa, Alcaraz, Ramis, Lopez and Golobart on the books, Martinez doesn’t need another centre-back on the books. Scharner has not been playing for Hamburg and is in desperate need of minutes to earn himself his next move.
3) The “new” system will suit him
While his desire to play in midfield hastened his move in the first place, he has presumably agreed to sign as a central defender. With Caldwell and Figueroa mainstays in the centre and centre-left respectively, the Austrian would likely slot in at centre-right in Martinez’s back three. Playing on that right side will allow him to occasionally get forward as Figueroa does on the other side, which should appeal to him.
4) His aerial ability is much needed
At 6’3, he is taller than both Caldwell and Figueroa and will surely help shore up a defence with an appalling record from set plays and open play crosses. He used to occasionally pop up with headed goals, a tendency that would be very warmly received in this new era.
5) Wigan is his footballing home
The reunion should be a warm one. Few of us have forgotten his warmth and enthusiasm as a player, usually spelled out in his hair. Despite the delusions of midfield maestro stardom he suffered from towards the end of his first stint at the club, his return is likely to be a nice event and can only morale. For the player, a return to the place where his best football was played can only have a reinvigorating effect.
While the return of a former player is always a tricky transaction, Scharner’s is only temporary and is mutually beneficial. Martinez knows the Austrian, having overlapped with him briefly. Wigan’s football has come a long way since then, but Scharner always fancied himself a ball player, and he should slot in nicely. Now he just needs to stay fit.