After injuries to the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Carlos Sanchez and Jack Wilshere continue to keep them on the sidelines, Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United are reportedly after a midfielder in the January transfer window, causing rumours to swirl.
The latest linked player is not one the members of the Claret & Blue Army will be familiar with, but he does appear to be one that the club are pursuing with just over two months to go until they can officially make their move. Today, we are going to analyse the validity of the rumour, compare him to a player currently at the club and analyse whether he would fit in at London Stadium, join us.
The player caught up in the latest West Ham transfer rumour and the one we are going to be analysing today is Paraguay International midfielder Miguel Almiron, who currently plays for Atlanta United in MLS.
It’s a story that was first reported by Argentine media outlet TyC Sports and involves the Hammers purchasing him in a multi-million pound January deal, although there is competition from other European clubs such as Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund and one would feel that it would have to go away for this deal to go through.
For the first of two main phases of this statistics-driven tactical analysis, we are going to take an in-depth look at the 24-year-old Almiron, with a little help from our good friends over at wyscout.com.
Above is a graphic obtained from the fantastic Wyscout website which contains a brief profile of the South American, some MLS statistics from this season and his heatmap and position map.
We will focus only on the heatmap and position map as it gives us a clue to the kind of player he is, a left-sided attacking midfielder who covers a lot of ground in his area, but clearly, his goal-scoring powers aren’t sacrificed due to this, as evidenced by the playmaker’s 12 goals this campaign.
Next in our analysis, to see how he truly compares to the main central attacking midfielder already in Claret & Blue and whether he would be an improvement on him, we have created a comparison.
With compliments to Wyscout once more, we have selected West Ham No10 Manuel Lanzini to go up against Almiron, using their general average career statistics as the basis of the comparison.
The two sets of stats can be found within the above two images and are taken from every match of their careers, for club and country, regardless of the competition.
The first stat we are drawn to, alongside two mini heatmaps displaying the players’ positional similarities, is total actions per 90 minutes and the rate of success in them. There is little to choose between the small but tricky pairing, Almiron attempting more, however, Lanzini the Argentina International completing more.
The Hammer carries a slightly higher goal threat than the Atlanta man, with an average of 0.24 goals per game to his 0.22, though Almiron tops him in terms of expected goals, as we can see.
The Paraguay man also has more average assists per 90 minutes than his South American compatriot and is better at shooting and shooting accuracy, with 2.52 to his 1.95 efforts and 36.9 per cent to his 30.8 per cent of them being on target.
Lanzini roars back, however, when it comes to passing, a key component as a playmaker and what would be a supporting role to Irons lone striker Marko Arnautovic, with more short and long passes and better accuracy with both.
As the images tell us, Almiron finds himself in suitable areas to cross the ball more and therefore, his 32.6% crossing accuracy is better than Lanzini’s, while he may average more dribbles than him every time he steps onto the field, but cannot successfully complete as many as him.
That theme continues when it comes to duels, with Almiron entering more but winning less and the case is vice-versa in terms of the lesser important to a CAM, aerial duels.
When it comes to some of the more defensive statistics, Lanzini reigns supreme in each with more interceptions, fewer losses of the ball and more recoveries. This may seem unimportant for a player of their position, but coming deep for the ball means No10’s will still find themselves doing some defending, meaning it’s important to have these skills.
Overall, when looking at the career average general stats, there is so little to split the two players who are both a very similar age, South American and have previously played in the same league. However, one would feel that the Paraguayan just edges things in an attacking sense, the key area for an attacking midfielder, albeit he has spent much of his career in leagues sub-standard to the Premier League, where Lanzini has spent most of his.
The interesting thing about this comparison is that ‘The Jewel’ is expected to return from the ACL injury in his knee that he obtained in pre-World Cup training with Argentina in January, the same time Almiron is being tipped to make the switch to East London. These two could find themselves battling it out for the same spot in just two months’ time.
If Almiron is to leave MLS in the upcoming transfer window, when he sits down and assesses his options, weighing up the clubs and deciding which one he wants to move to, there will be a sway tempting him to choose West Ham.
This comes in the form of the contingent of South American players and staff already at the club who would be able to help him settle into life in England and the toughest league in the world, they include new manager Pellegrini, Lanzini himself, International teammate Fabian Balbuena and many more.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that should West Ham manage to land his signature in January with his Atalanta contract being up in the summer, he would be more than capable of challenging Lanzini for the No10 spot in Pellegrini’s team.
The stats we’ve analysed prove this and to have such strong competition for that position could only be a good thing for the East Londoners, pushing Lanzini to be better and if he isn’t, Almiron being there to replace him. The MLS star is certainly an option the Hammers should consider and if the price tag isn’t too extortionate, do everything they can to make it happen in January.