Manuel Ugarte against all

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There are not many players who can hold up the current Paris Saint-Germain team defensively, but Manuel Ugarte was perhaps the best man to try. We review his impact in defence.

Published:22/11/2023

We’ll start straight away. This is Paris Saint-Germain’s summer transfer window, as captured on one of the many team options we have on our driblabPRO platform for professionals.

12 arrivals and 12 departures. A new project. Luis Enrique at the helm and many decisions to make regarding what characterises the players and what characterises the coach. Again, many forwards and very fast, with little defensive involvement, and the need to compete while creating a playing identity. To balance the 4-2-2-2 with which PSG are playing on many days, two dynamic midfielders but only one with a real defensive and holding role.

Luis Campos, still sporting director of the French team, thought of a player profile that would permanently reach many areas and dominate several defensive registers. And there are few of those. This text makes sense to understand the dimension that is reaching the Uruguayan Manuel Ugarte, who already from Famalicao and then in Sporting Portugal generated high expectations for his undoubted and innate talent to defend from the duel, intelligence and energy. Manuel Ugarte is standing out as one of the five best defensive midfielders in almost all existing metrics to measure performance.

Manuel Ugarte happens to be, along with Joao Palhinha, the great defensive specialist of the moment. Players who transmit the ability to play alone in front of the defence and balance vertical offensive proposals. The Uruguayan makes almost eight tackles per game and recovers seven balls per 90 minutes. In addition, he is 2nd best and 5th in two metrics that measure pressure after loss, a circumstance not so common in midfielders, who are more concerned with maintaining their position and sustaining pressure from more advanced players.

Within all our visualisations, we have a customised radar for midfielders, which includes defensive metrics. Metrics such as ‘Breadth’ (defensive actions carried out on the sides of the pitch), Individual Pressure or the percentage of duels won, explain both the defensive talent of the Uruguayan and his particular moment, performing at maximum demand and surrounded by very offensive players.

Finally, we wanted to check Manuel de Ugarte’s defensive impact on PSG’s game when he has been on the pitch and when he has not played, with a different collective performance from one minute to the next. A very important player in the present and future of this season for the current leaders of Ligue 1.

Founded in 2017 as a consultancy, Driblab has driven innovation through data in all aspects of professional football. Thanks to a transversal model, its database collects and models statistics in all directions. From converting matches and videos into bespoke data for training academies to developing cutting-edge technology, helping clubs, federations and representative agencies in talent scouting and transfer markets. Driblab’s smart data is used by clubs all over the world, with success stories such as Dinamo Zagreb, Real Betis and Girondins Bordeaux among others. Here you can find out more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Alejandro Arroyo
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