Thursday, 29 May 2014

Ricardo Rodriguez: a cheaper alternative to Luke Shaw?

Luke Shaw is quite possibly the most wanted player in England right now, he’d easily fit into any Premier League club and looks set to join one of the big clubs, with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool all reportedly interested in signing the left back.  That he is so wanted is testament to Shaw’s performances this season and given the demand for their player Southampton may be tempted to instigate a bidding war. As it stands United seem to be leading the way with a reported fee of £20m being the price to prise him away from the South coast.

Given his age and the affinity to which he has taken to the top level of English football it’s hardly surprising that the clamour for his signature is so great. Another left back who’s had a fine season is Ricardo Rodriguez and it’s likely he’d be available at a fraction of the price being mooted for Shaw.

Switzerland’s left back, Ricardo Rodriguez has had a stunning season at Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg. At 21 years old he is 3 years older than Shaw, but is still young and has a promising career ahead of him. He was ever-present for Wolfsburg, appearing in all of their 34 Bundesliga fixtures, so clearly he is not injury prone and his fitness is not in question. It also highlights what a good season he had and that he is reliable and dependable.

Arguably Rodriguez’s biggest strength is his ability going forward; he provides an extra dimension to attacks, he is good on the ball, managing 2.6 successful dribbles per game, and has excellent delivery, he provides 2.1 successful crosses per game, the second highest in the Bundesliga. He managed 9 assists and 5 goals last season, particularly high figures for a defender, his total of 9 assists is unsurpassed by a teammate and is the 8th highest in the league.

However, it is worth noting that Rodriguez is his club’s free kick, penalty and corner taker, which accounts for the majority of his goals and a number of his assists. That’s not to discount from him in anyway though, it shows his ability at dead ball situations, whilst being a penalty taker shows he has confidence in his own ability. 

Rodriguez creates an average of 2.3 chances per game for his teammates, only de Bruyne has a higher average in the squad, in fact it is the 9th highest in the Bundesliga, considering that the other talented more attacking players on show in German football at the minute that shows how good he has been. Rodriguez plays 5.3 long balls per game and has a pass accuracy of 80.5%; he doesn’t give the ball away often.

Defensively, Rodriguez is very strong too. Rodriguez is good in the air, winning 3.1 headers per game, he’s 5ft 10, so is tall for a full back and is also physically strong, an attribute that has won Luke Shaw admirers. He completes 3.1 tackles and makes 1.9 interceptions per game on average, only Luis Gustavo has more in the Wolfsburg squad. He is only dribbled past 0.8 times in each match, an impressive figure for someone so young.

If one of the top Premier League clubs were to sign Rodriquez they’d probably secure a real coup and someone who is one of the best young left backs in the world.


Statistics courtesy of whoscored.com 

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