One of the latest names rumoured to be heading to London Stadium to hook up with his fellow countryman Manuel Pellegrini in January is midfielder Gary Medel, of Turkish club Besiktas. A mere 11 days before the window opens, we are going to be carrying out a statistical tactical analysis on whether the club should do everything in its power to sign the Chilean.
The first step in this analysis is to take an in-depth look into how the central defensive midfielder, often used as a centre-back when needed, has been getting on lately in the Turkish Super Lig.
While the per 90 minute average of the Chile international is at the top of the graphic for these figures, you will also see the statistics for each of his last nine appearances, but it’s just the average we’re going to be focussing on today. Although it does make for an interesting comparison.
The first average stat we are drawn to, beside a mini heatmap displaying his positioning in the defensive and defensive midfield areas this term, is his total actions and rate of success in them.
For those wanting the Hammers to bring Medel back to the Premier League after he spent one season with Cardiff City and was relegated in 2013/2014, it’s immediate good news. The 31-year-old has recorded an impressive average 86.14 total actions per 90 minutes, 75.3 per cent of which have been successful.
As you would expect of a player with such a defensive nature, he has averaged zero goals and assist this season in the two competitive competitions he’s featured this term, the top-flight of Turkey and the UEFA Europa League. As you can see, this is reflected in his shooting and expected goals figures.
Medel’s passing stats have been a sight to behold this campaign and eye-catching wouldn’t quite do them justice, with 60.95 and 4.44 short and long passes averaged respectively, accompanying 92.7% and 72.5% accuracy. If that wasn’t enough, he’s averaged 100% accuracy in his 32 Besiktas appearance in all competitions this term, including friendlies.
In spite of Medel’s positioning rarely allowing him to attempt a dribble, he has still managed to complete over 60% on average. Meanwhile, it’s slightly surprising to see a player of the South American’s famous physicality win, on average, under 50% of his 16.76 duels and 2.81 aerial duels.
Evidence that the Hammers should seriously consider Medel as an option to bolster their backup in central midfield is in his 5.45 interceptions, displaying his wonderful natural reading of the game. Seeing so much of the ball, 6.64 losses is testament to the veteran’s ball-keeping skills, with only just over half of his losses putting his team in danger by coming in his own half.
On average, the man who moved to Turkey from Italian giants Internazionale in the summer of 2017 registers a high 12.39 recoveries per 90 minutes. The vast majority of which come in his own half and only 29% in the opposition half.
If there’s one facet of Medel’s overall game that isn’t so smart and something he has struggled with throughout his prestigious 13-year career to date, it’s his disciplinary record. As the image tells us, he has averaged 0.41 yellow cards per full match and 0.03 red cards, due to his red card in the league at home to Yeni Malatyaspor earlier in the season.
Overall, for a player comfortably into his 30s playing in one of Europe’s elite leagues and domestic club competitions, as well as in friendlies for his nation, these figures are superb. Any West Ham scout analysing these stats, would undoubtedly give the green light to his signing.
Next in this analysis, we will be analysing, with the help of Wyscout once more, Medel’s heatmap from his league appearances so far, as well as his position map.
The heatmap and position map can be found on the right of the graphic, next to some brief information on the experienced star and some brief Turkish top-flight stats from this term. Including his, previously unseen in this analysis, average of 82.5 minutes per match.
As displayed by the heatmap, Medel has spent most of his time on the pitch this campaign in the centre of the field, primarily in his own half and only occasionally just into the opposition half. To the right in the position map, the fact that the Chile man has dropped back into defence to play as a right-sided centre-back when needed is outlined.
The role he would play
There can be little doubting that, should Pellegrini go ahead and sign his fellow Chilean, he would not be being signed as a first-choice central defensive midfielder. This is down to Mark Noble and Declan Rice having a firm grip on the two available places at present, with Pedro Obiang as first-reserve.
However, he would be being brought in, in what is understood to be a proposed multi-million-pound deal, as a back-up option, similar to what Carlos Sanchez was signed for back in the summer. But Sanchez was injured just a month into the campaign and has been followed on the treatment table by Jack Wilshere, rendering there a need for increased numbers in the midfield position.
Yes, West Ham should do everything in their powers to bring Medel in so long as the fee for what will be a rotation player is not too hefty, as our statistics-driven tactical analysis today has suggested. This is down to the level of performance the Chilean has shown this season and the experience he will bring to the table.
However, it must be noted that the versatile veteran has recorded the figures we’ve analysed today in a league of much lower quality to the Premier League, though his English top-flight experience should hold him in good stead for a move back to England. After representatives of both parties have met in the last few days, don’t be surprised if we see Medel in Claret & Blue in the not-too-distant future.
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