‘Case study’: looking for a replacement for Rodrigo de Paul

We set up a case study looking for possible replacements for Rodrigo de Paul, using part of our replacement methodology.


Rodrigo de Paul arrived at Atlético de Madrid in the summer of 2021 as the midfielder who could give a team that had just won the league title a new lease of life. The Argentine came from Udinese at the right time in his career, which also earned him a starting place in Argentina’s World Cup-winning side. In this time, the red and white club has changed a lot in the way they play and if the Argentinian were to leave the team soon, finding a replacement would require different characteristics than those that might have been sought in the past.

In the following text we are going to look for a profile under 26 years old, with a market value of less than 25 million euros, with specific physical and technical characteristics and with an important degree of experience so that the performance is as immediate as possible, finding also other younger and future profiles that would fit the requirements.

Among our similarity functionality we have a multitude of metrics and filters with which we can get closer but knowing the players we can get even closer to the scenario that any club can consider when replacing them. Rodrigo de Paul is a player with great mobility, aggressiveness in passing and personality to always try to progress, probably less accurate than other profiles but with a clear and visible role in the game.

Two interesting options for similarity, profile, role and market opportunity could be Maxence Caqueret and Giovani Lo Celso. The former is a player with a really important quality on the ball, both one on one and in mobility, first ball control and passing progression, with certain characteristics similar to Marco Verratti. Given the importance that short passing has changed in Atletico’s midfield, recruiting an agile player to come out of high presses are aspects that Caqueret masters. Above we can see a radar comparison between De Paul and Caqueret (23 years old), who also has very good defensive numbers (tackles + interceptions).

In the case of Giovani Lo Celso, two variables play an important role. The first is the few minutes he has played in recent years, which may be a cheaper opportunity, although, on the other hand, injuries have been one of the main causes of his discontinuity. His injury record at Tottenham and Villarreal is perhaps too high. His experience (international with Scaloni) and his characteristics (defensive commitment, clear-sightedness in both halves of the pitch, his Italian passport or his left-footed status make him a profile to be taken into account. His playing characteristics fit really well as a replacement for his compatriot, being among the best (2019-20 season) in generating play and individual duels through tackling or pressing. Despite injuries, he continues to have the confidence of Lionel Scaloni.

  • Aleix Garcia

A player who has already been in Atletico’s orbit, Aleix Garcia is currently the player with the best present out of the five players chosen in this replacement exercise. He figures as one of the best midfielders in La Liga in a multitude of metrics and would be a better fit for the current red and white style of play than he has been in past seasons. He is the best midfielder in LaLiga and 4th in the big five leagues in long passes completed (6.96 passes per 90 minutes), something Atlético would need in a hypothetical departure of De Paul, with Koke, Saúl or Barrios being players with a less accurate, tense and agile long pass.

Medium-term options

  • André Trindade, a Copa Libertadores winner with Fluminense, has already made more than 150 appearances in brazilian football despite being only 22 years old. He is a young but experienced profile (more than 120 matches between Serie A, Libertadores and Sudamericana) who would have his first experience in European football. A very complete midfielder, dynamic, consistent in duels, sure in passing and with experience in a similar system of play (more functional than positional football). Midfielder who fulfils the vast majority of characteristics that a midfield position would currently require at the Spanish club.
  • Samuele Ricci

Younger profile, more inexperienced, with recent injuries but with interesting conditions in the medium term between physique, personality, ball handling and ability in duels. A very complete midfielder who has already made a good impression with Italy U21. It is a slower profile in the movements and with less creativity and arrival, but with enough personality and very good commitment every time the ball is lost or recovered to start playing. Physically very powerful for the clash and the aerial duel.

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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Información corporativa

Somos una empresa con sede en Madrid fundada en 2017 por Salvador Carmona y Cristian Coré Ramiro. Desde nuestros inicios nuestro trabajo se ha centrado en el análisis estadístico de datos para ayudar a los clubes en la planificación deportiva. Somos una consultora big data que ofrece servicios personalizados para cada cliente y defiende un modelo de gestión mixto y una comunicación constante para acompañar el día a día de las instituciones. Nuestro punto fuerte es la más amplia cobertura disponible en número de torneos profesionales y juveniles. Para más detalles, póngase en contacto con nosotros.

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