Player Profiles: Yerry Mina
Despite a domestic double in 6 months at the Camp Nou and a World Cup record for a defender, Yerry Mina divides opinion.
The 23 year old Columbian moved to Barcelona in January and, despite the silverware he has accumulated, is reportedly unhappy due to a lack of playing time. 3 goals at the World Cup for Columbia, has seen interest in the defender rise with an abundance of clubs wanting his signature. Everton, Manchester United, Lyon and Wolves are just a handful of clubs who are interested in taking Mina from the Blaugrana. However despite his offensive threat, some fans fear Mina is prone to mistakes and was only made to look good by his partnering centre backs. As a result, Mina’s links to specific clubs have had a mixed response from fans on social media.
Yerry Fernando Mina González began and completed his youth career at Deportivo Pasto before being promoted to their senior team at 19 years of age. After just one season consisting of 14 appearances, the young defender was signed by top tier Columbian side Independiente Santa Fe in 2013.
Mina immediately became a starter for the Columbian giants playing a staggering 52 times in all competitions whilst also contributing to 3 goals in the process. He bettered his performances in 2014/15 making an improved 54 appearances with a crucial goal against Atlético Nacional in his side’s 2-0 victory. His defensive presence as well as consistency with appearances were instrumental in Santa Fe’s 2015 Superliga Colombiana triumph. The defender received praise from the Colombian press and came under the radar of other South American clubs.
After the 2015/16 season where he once again demonstrated his dominant presence in defence, the Colombian moved to Brazilian side Palmeiras on a 5 year deal in July for 2016/17. Yet just a month after signing, the Colombian sustained an injury which ruled him out for 6-8 weeks.
However, Mina did not let this setback affect his performances. After recovering in late August, the Colombian dominated the league like he did in his homeland. His towering presence as well as constant aerial threat allowed him to score 4 league goals in the campaign, especially crucial goals against rivals São Paulo and Corinthians. Key defensive performances along the way too helped Palmeiras win their first Campeonato Brasileiro Série A in 22 years. His success in South America inevitably received interest from Europe’s elite with a certain Catalan club very interested in his signature.
Mina was on the move again, signing for Barcelona in January 2018 for €11.8 million and strengthening their aging defence. The Colombian made just 6 appearances in his 6 months at the Camp Nou in 2017/18 implying that Ernesto Valverde does not have full faith in his abilities. Perhaps this coupled with his recent World Cup form, has prompted teams around Europe to make inquiries about his availability.
Standing at 6ft 4 inches, Mina is a powerful centre back that is extremely difficult to push off the ball. His stature alongside his extraordinary heading ability makes him a serious aerial threat in the opposition box, as shown against England in the Round of 16 of World Cup 2018. However, alongside his dangerous attacking threat, the Colombian can also be exposed for defensive frailty. His height and stature do make him less mobile (despite their benefits to his attacking play), but alongside this, his defensive positioning has been suspect at times during the season, like against Levante. Furthermore, despite his aerial duel success rate, his control of the ball at his feet has been lackluster at times which has threatened defensive errors. Therefore, some key defensive attributes he lacks has created doubt in the minds of some football fans who have watched him in La Liga thus far.
At just 23 years of age, Mina has plenty of time to develop his defensive positioning and how he reads the game. But in order for him to develop and improve, he requires game time and the guarantee of playing week in week out. Barcelona may not be able to offer him that due to the excellence of Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique’s experience. He has an abundance of clubs that are interested in signing him either permanently or on loan, particularly from the Premier League.
Purchasing Mina could be risky for any club. Although he adds to their set piece threats, he is ultimately a defender and still has much to learn in the trade. Regardless, it is becoming increasingly likely that we may see Yerry Mina in the English top flight, with Wolves and Everton expressing serious interest in his services. Yet only time will tell whether he becomes the formidable centre back that Columbians believe he can be.