It is absolutely objective: Alessandro Bastoni has become one of the most sought-after central defenders by the best clubs in the world. The 23-year-old Italian combines a special talent for initiating short and long play, thanks to a fantastic ball movement, with a great ability to defend far from goal and to measure himself in one-on-one situations, which makes him very attractive to play in teams with a high profile in the game. It is therefore not unreasonable to think of a move this summer to a Premier League team.
With this scenario in mind at Driblab we wanted to imagine which players could fill the gap left by Bastoni, using all the features we have in our database, refined with all kinds of specific tools, to find us the most suitable and appropriate player to perform from the first moment in the Lombardy team. It is not an easy task but there are many interesting candidates.
Among our searches we have prioritized finding a left-footed center back, both standing and standing, who has a great initiative with the ball, a trait reflected in metrics such as pass success rate, ‘xG Build up’ or percentage of long passes completed, along with aerial duels and tackles/was dribbled, the latter metric that measures his effectiveness in defensive actions where a tackle is made. However, we have also included some options of right-handed players used to playing on the left, although this may condition the naturalness of a left-footed player to orient himself and put his leg in situations where this produces defensive advantages.
- Pau Torres: Our first choice is Villarreal’s left-sided center back and Spain international, Pau Torres. While he does not have as good numbers in terms of playmaking and passing quality, his understanding and daring to find teammates on the inside have earned him a call-up by Luis Enrique, who prioritizes center backs with great ball delivery. He is a very calm and cerebral central defender with the ball when he receives it. Defensively, his tendency is to wait and not go out to anticipate, but he has a high percentage of success in the tackle.
- Two central defenders who would compensate for less creativity with better numbers in defensive duels and defending the area would be the 21-year-old Frenchman Benoit Badiashile, from Monaco, and Alexander Djiku, 27, one of the great revelations of recent years and defensive pillar of Strasbourg.
- Among other more affordable options, Japan’s Hiroki Ito has one of the most creative and precise long movements in the Bundesliga. Left-footed, Ito has an enormous facility for finding open players or making deep runs, completing more than 6 long passes per 90 minutes. In last place, we find a possible market opportunity, the French Clement Lenglet, far from his best level but with time and talent to regain confidence at 26 years old, after fantastic seasons in Sevilla and Barcelona.
We are Driblab, a consultancy specialized in the statistical analysis of players and teams; our work is focused on advising and minimizing risk in professional football decision-making in areas related to talent detection and footballer evaluations. Our database has more than 200,000 players from more than 180 competitions, covering information from all over the world. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.