Over time, left-footed centre-backs have become highly sought-after players. The evolution of playing systems and the way of playing in certain countries has led teams to look for very specific profiles for centre-backs who play on the left side of the pitch. The value of centre-backs such as Josko Gvardiol, Nico Schlotterbeck, Gonçalo Inacio, Morato or Facundo Medina accentuates the search for a profile that is highly sought after by clubs all over Europe who need their left-sided centre-backs to have good ball handling skills as an added value to their defensive attributes.
We have set out to filter our search with centre-backs who are over 185 centimetres tall, 23 years old or younger and under 7 million in market value, adding profiles costing less than 1 million to include cheaper options. These are our recommendations.
Valentin Gomez – 2003 – Velez Sarsfield – 4.5m market value
Made his debut at the age of 18 last season in Argentina and from the first moment he started to stand out. International with Argentina at the last U-20 World Cup, he is a very complete centre-back, with undoubted potential to make it in a big European league. His height and wingspan are very good for aerial duels, tackling and ball control. His long movement is not so precise for the amount of times he uses this resource. He does stand out in his driving and progressive passes that break lines. In the South American U-20 Championship, he had his ups and downs, with a great performance against Chile and a less good one against Brazil. He is an undisputed starter with Velez and his performance is statistically clearly better than in his debut season.
Jarrad Branthwaite – 2002 – PSV Eindhoven – 7 million market value
On loan from Everton to PSV Eindhoven, Jarrad Branthwaite should not be long for a chance in a Premier League squad. His 195 centimetres do not go unnoticed for his good mobility and forcefulness in a multitude of actions. Accurate in his clearances, he is having a great season at PSV Eindhoven, attracting the interest of important teams in Italy, Portugal and Germany. Very good with the ball in his possession, he is very accurate on the long ball and is above average in ‘xG Build up’, which measures the participation in possessions that end in a shot.
Valdemar Jensen – 2003 – Copenhagen – 600k market value
From the generation of William Boving or Rasmus Hojlund, Valdemar Jensen is another of the latest Danish talents to be considered, coming out of Copenhagen’s youth academy. Among his main virtues, two stand out: long ball movement, where he is the eighth best centre-back in the Superligaen in long balls per 90′ and in success rate, as well as in aerial duels, where he is very reliable and safe, as can be seen in the map below. His main handicap: slow turns and little speed to recover metres behind him, which may condition his next destination. In any case, an interesting centre-back for Northern and Central European leagues.
Alan Matturro – 2003 – Genoa – 1.7 million market value
He is one of the most promising centre-backs in South American football and that is why Genoa signed him last February for 3 million euros. The Uruguayan showed a great ability in the aerial duel but above all a great clarity and cleanness in the distribution of the ball, with a lot of personality to initiate and progress the ball. His handling of the long ball is one of his greatest attributes. He has not yet enjoyed the confidence of Genoa but he is a great project for a left-sided centre-back in the coming years.
¿_ _ _ _? – 1999 – Primeira Liga – 2M market value
In Portugal, one of the most outstanding left-sided centre-backs in the competition hides behind this radar. Very good numbers both in defensive and aerial duel metrics and in his ability to distribute the ball and find players far out wide with his left foot. He is among the best centre-backs in aerial duel effectiveness, with more than 75% of aerial duels won.
¿_ _ _ _? – 2000 – Eredivisie – 400k market value
One of the interesting surprises of the season in the Eredivisie is this 22-year-old left-sided centre-back who has no glaring deficiency. Very balanced between his influence on his team’s possessions and his individual defensive metrics, his youth and market value make him a very interesting player to gamble on in the short term, with his contract expiring in 2025. Although he didn’t count too much for his coach until January, he has accumulated seven consecutive starts, with great performances in all of them. In his seven starts, his team won five games, drew one and only lost one. A centre-back to be considered for a bigger team in the Netherlands or abroad.
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