5 Defensive Prospects from La Liga

This is a Guest Post by BallNotABomb

Ted has already done a good job of having a look at those players that have done well, but may be not got the credit for it that they should have on the offensive side of the ball. This is going to be an attempt to do the same for defensive players.

Name: Carlos Martinez

Team: Real Sociedad
Age: 27
Position: Right Back
Potential Buyers: Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen

Everyone by now has probably heard and maybe seen some of Real Sociedad’s incredible over achievement in the league this season, which culminated in a fourth place finish and a spot in next year’s Champions’ League. Carlos Martinez has as much to do with Sociedad’s good season as any. Having been there all of his career, starting in 2004, he probably has more to do with their success than anyone. However, this could also add a few pennies on to his asking price.

Apps Tack Int Fouls OffWon Clr Block Aerial%
29 2.9 3.1 0.6 0.4 4.2 0.5 73

Every ninety minutes Martinez wins the ball for your team six times (this is no statistical fluke either, Martinez did the same 5.2 times per 90 last season). If that doesn’t seem like a lot, the much vaunted Pepe wins it 3.6 times (1.8 interception, 1.8 tackles). This number is also higher than Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Sergio Ramos, all of whom are starters for the Spanish national side. His aerial duels won percentage of 73 isn’t bad either, and although it should be taken with a pinch of salt, he’s up against left wingers after all, his 6 foot 2 inch frame suggests that he could be fairly useful in the air as well as on the ground.

What does Martinez do when he gets the ball though?

Apps G A ShpG KP Drib Fouled Disp Trn
29 1 4 0.3 1.2 0.8 1.2 0.4 0.5

Quite a lot then. 1.2 key passes means the right back is an attacking threat even from a defensive position, highlighted by his 4 assists for the season. The full back doesn’t give it away too often either with a 76.5% passing success rate and only a 0.5 turnover per 90.

All in all, the Spaniard is a player who is in his prime and one that is not necessarily for a team building for the next ten years but maybe one that is building for the next 5. It could be hard to get him away from his beloved Real Sociedad, but as we’ve seen in recent years (who’s that Swansea striker again?) Spain are in real trouble financially and he could be going for a knock down price.

Likely cost: 10 million

Name: Pedro Turen Geromel
Team: FC Koln
Age: 27
Position: Centre back
Potential Buyers: Monaco

Geromel made the shrewd move last summer of leaving Koln after they were relegated to go and play top flight football for Mallorca in La Liga.

They were relegated as well.

Some times in football you have to laugh.

The Brazilian started his career in Portugal and quickly made a name for himself by getting Vitória Sport Clube promoted and then into the Champions League in two years. In 2008, he won the Portuguese League’s best player award.

And then went to Koln. Interesting decision making, there.

League Apps Tackle Int Fouls Off Won Clr Was Drib Block Aerial%
La Liga* 29(1) 2.9 4.4 1.4 0.8 8.7 0.4 0.8 62.6

4.4 interceptions per 90 is the highest in the whole of La Liga last season and 8.7 clearances is the 11th highest in the league. Obviously, 2.9 tackles isn’t bad either. All in all it’s absolutely crazy that this fella could be playing in the Bundesliga.2 next season. Especially considering he has five years plus at the top level still remaining. His aerial duels won percentage could be an issue for potential suitors and he might be best employed with someone who is more adept in the air.

Geromel’s attacking stats aren’t really relevant due to his position, but his passing success of 79.2% is nothing to be sniffed at and probably highlights the fact that he can play a bit and isn’t in your Danny Shittu mould of centre half.

With Monaco reportedly interested, the player’s cost will probably go up exponentially. Other clubs should still be having a look though.

Likely cost: 6-8 million

Name: Jonathan Castro Otto (Jonny)
Team: Celta Vigo
Age: 19
Position: Right Back
Potential Buyers: Southampton, Arsenal, Udinese/Granada

Celta Vigo managed to stay up by one point last season but they may also have unearthed a gem.

League Apps Tack Int Fouls OffWon Clr Block Aerial%
La Liga 3.5 2.4 1.2 0.7 2.9 0.3 54.2

5.9 wins of possession(WOP) per 90 at the age of 19 is bloody good. Especially considering this was his initial season for the first team. It’s unsurprising that “Jonny” has already played for the Spanish national team up to the under 20 level, and if he did not have Barcelona’s Montoya and Real Madrid’s Carvajal in his way, he may have even played for the under 21s by now.

Obviously there are still things to work on – his heading percentage is not great, but considering he is 5 foot 9, I doubt this will be one of his strengths any time in the near future.

League Apps G A ShpG KP Drib Fouled Disp Trn PS%
La Liga* 19 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.5 71.6

His attacking play can definitely be improved upon, as he shows relatively low numbers all across the board here, but it’s important to remember that Jonny has only played 19 games so far so these statistics, defensive and offensive, have not properly collated yet. Because of this, his signing could be a gamble, but one that could potentially pay off big.

Likely cost: 6 million

Name: Felipe Luis Kasmirski
Team: Atletico Madrid
Age: 27
Position: Left Back
Potential Buyers: Manchester United, Tottenham, Monaco, PSG

The most well-known player on the list, “Filipe” is a Brazilian full back in the mould of many of the greats before him and has been crucial in Atletico’s recent success. If he did not have Marcelo in front of him in Brazil’s pecking order, he probably wouldn’t be on this list at all because everyone would already know about him.

League Apps Tackle Int Fouls Off Won Clr Was Dribbled Blk Shots Aerial%
La Liga* 32 3.2 2.4 1 0.1 2.3 0.5 0.2 52

His defensive stats are decent considering his reputation as an attacker first and defender later. Again he has a plus 5 WOP, but struggles in aerial challenges, which can be exploited if the ball is crossed into the back post.  As Felipe plays in La Liga though, this isn’t as much of a problem as it might be in the Premier League.

League Apps G A ShpG KP Drib Fouled Disp Trn PS%
La Liga* 32 1 2 0.7 1.1 1 0.9 0.9 0.7 80.9

A key passing statistic over 1, the fourth highest for a defender in the league (Alves, Martinez, and Iraola are ahead of him), is always good and shows Felipe’s creativity. His dribbling statistic is also the highest on the list so far and is a feature of the Brazilian’s game. It also may have something to with his fairly high turnover count, but conversely means his fouls won is just under 1.

Felipe Luis represents a left back that is a definite starter for most Champions League sides. The problem is Atletico Madrid are one of those sides, but they still can’t compete with the money available to Premier League clubs, so don’t discount a move.

Likely cost: 15-18 million

Name: Alejandro Galvez
Team: Rayo Vallecano
Age: 24
Position: Centre Back
Potential Buyers:

Rayo Vallecano is the fourth club of Galvez’s career so far. Last season was his second term in the top flight, and he played fairly well.

Tournament Apps Tackle Int Fouls Off Won Clr Was Dribbled Blk Shots Aerial%
La Liga* 24(4) 2.6 2.9 1.8 0.6 5.5 1.2 0.5 66.1

Galvez has a WOP of 5.5, which is fairly high and would certainly have contributed to his side’s top half finish this season. His aerial duels won and clearances are also solid. What could be worrying though is his disciplinary record. 11 yellows and 1 red are high, and not that surprising considering the amount of tackling he does and the fact he commits nearly 2 fouls a match.

Offensively, Galvez is also useful. His pass success percentage of 82% is very high for a centre back and he also likes to play long balls – 5.8 per match, completing 65%. These are exactly the sort of stats most teams are looking for in a modern center back, but despite his age and productivity, you can’t think he would be that expensive to buy.

Likely cost: less than 2 million


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