With just one minute to go until the Premier League summer 2018 transfer window slammed shut, West Ham United announced their second signing of Deadline Day in classy fashion, midfielder Carlos Sanchez.
The Colombian International moves to London Stadium from Serie A club Fiorentina on a two-year deal and also becomes Manuel Pellegrini’s ninth first-team signing of his first summer in charge in East London.
The signing has been met with much ridicule from large portions of the East Londoners’ fan base, basing much of their previous knowledge on a spell in the Premier League with Aston Villa and not the best of World Cups at the latest edition of the tournament in Russia.
But, using current and comparative statistics, today, we tactically analyse the 31-year-old, comparing him with the recent performances of his new teammates in midfield and finding out that he might not be as bad as members of the Claret & Blue Army may think.
Sanchez In Profile
Firstly, we have enlisted the help of our good friends over at Transfermarkt to bring you a comprehensive Player Profile of Sanchez, a player with plenty of experience in some of the world’s best leagues.
As we can see from the graphic, the Colombia man is 32-years-old which makes him the oldest member of the Irons’ midfield as he joins and will likely retire with the seventh different club of his playing career.
Irons fans will probably remember him from a spell at Villa Park which ended on a sour note in 2016 with the side being relegated from the Premier League, although he did show glimpses of the pace and versatility he can display despite his relative lack of height, whilst in a different shade of Claret & Blue.
Being left-footed also makes Sanchez a rare breed in Pellegrini’s squad, able to play either a central-midfield role or a central defensive midfield role and much like the day’s other signing Lucas Perez, the recent fall in his market value allowed West Ham to make a cheap purchase for an undisclosed fee.
Here, using Squawka’s Player Comparison Matrix, we have created a comparative graphic which pits Sanchez against current Hammers midfielders club captain Mark Noble and Spaniard Pedro Obiang, along with the recently-departed Cheikhou Kouyate.
For the latter three of those names, we have selected stats from the 2017/2018 Premier League season, but seeing as a loan spell to Espanyol and injury worries limited Sanchez’ playing opportunities last season, we have opted for the 2016/2017 campaign with him, his last full season.
Interestingly, the scepticism of some Irons supporters is seemingly made invalid by our first three statistics as we can see in the graphic, which are total passes, pass completion and tackles won, key areas for central midfielders.
During the 2016/2017 season in Italy’s top-flight in the colours of Fiorentina, casting any suggestion of a gulf in class between the two leagues aside, Sanchez managed to complete over 1,500 passes, the closest any of the West Ham players got to this was Noble with 1159, playing only 26 minutes fewer.
As you can see, all four of those players managed over 20 games and 1,400 minutes in the seasons in question, next is pass completion, where the Colombian is king once more with an impressive 88%.
A trend is soon seen with the club captain his closest competitor once more, he has 4% fewer, 4% further back is Obiang, while Kouyate languishes on 77%, a further three per cent back.
There is no change in tackles won either, Sanchez was a rock in front of the Violets’ back four, winning 49 and trumping Kouyate, Obiang and Noble, in order, but there is one aspect where Sanchez isn’t so strong in this tactical analysis.
Many have questioned his discipline, having been sent off for the Colombians after just three minutes against Japan in Russia, and his six yellow cards during that term, compared to Noble (also 6), Kouyate (5) and Obiang (3), perhaps raises a few alarms in that department.
Overall, despite matching up to some of Pellegrini’s current midfielders whilst playing out his last full season, the 32-year-old is no doubt still only going to be used as a third or fourth choice central midfielder In his second stint in the English top-flight.
However, this tactical analysis has proved that Sanchez is certainly a strong back-up option, more so than some Hammers may have first thought, the same fans who have been crying out for weeks for a central midfield to sign. They’ve now got one, and similar to fellow Deadline Day arrival Perez, he offers great strength in depth.