What a January transfer window this is turning out to be! Reading made it five loan signings for the month with the addition of Matt Miazga from Chelsea; the centre half will stay until the end of the season.
How would you sum up his time at Chelsea?
Matt Miazga, like so many other young and talented players, has been away on loan for most of his Chelsea 'career'. His signing was a surprise in January 2016, but it was a doubly strange time at the club so soon after Jose Mourinho’s second sacking and a brief flirting with the relegation zone, so it mostly passed with a shrug.
We couldn’t ignore an even bigger surprise, when he actually made two appearances in the Premier League, showing well against Aston Villa and then less well against Swansea City. He made a mistake against the Swans in the first half, got hooked off at the break by then-interim boss Guus Hiddink, and was never heard from again.
His loans have been similarly mixed, with a solid two years at Vitesse Arnhem (who we jokingly call 'Chelsea B'), where he became one of the best and most highly regarded defenders in the Eredivisie (Ajax were rumored to be interested, as a potential replacement for Matthijs De Ligt) and then a brief spell at Nantes earlier this season, which ended with him 'banished' to the reserves and then 'fleeing' back to Chelsea by 'faking' an injury (at least that’s what their coach, who didn’t like him much, claimed). The way his loan ended leaves him with something to prove, and not just on the pitch.
What style of defender is Miazga?
He’s a classic, no-nonsense defender first and foremost, with good leadership and a winning mentality, but has developed more than adequate skills with his feet as well over the last few years.
What are his main strengths?
He’s a big, tall, and fairly strong player, excellent in the air and good on the ball. He’s not afraid to mix it up, nor does he shy away from possession.
And his weaknesses?
As with most young or younger players, his biggest weaknesses are in the mental aspect, such as concentration, anticipation, and positioning, and doing all the good things he does with better consistency. He’s had some minor issues with discipline, earning three red cards in just 42 games for New York Red Bulls and getting fined by Vitesse for an “unprofessional” and “inappropriate” crotch grab of an opponent, which was made funnier by all the euphemisms newspapers managed to come up with for the incident.
He also made fun of Mexico’s Diego Lainez for being 10 inches shorter than him in an international friendly, which garnered mixed reactions running the full gamut from “Hero Captain Miazgamerica” to “lacking sportsmanship off with his head!”
What’s his character like?
A son of Polish immigrants, Miazga’s known as a hard worker, a confident and determined player who tends to rise to any and all challenges. Those are classic American values, to be sure, but he embodies them beyond just the clichés that they are. At the end of his time at Vitesse, he got the honour of being captain for a match and he’s fulfilled a similar leadership position in the very young and rebuilding US men’s national team, too.
On the whole, is he a good signing for Reading?
Miazga started the season very well at Nantes before a coaching change and his subsequent fall from grace. But if given a chance, I believe he will do well for Reading, and should prove an excellent signing.