By Harry Siddle – @HS_10Ftbol
It’s been said over the past few years that the best players in Europe always end up in La Liga, either wearing the white of Real Madrid or the red and blue of Barcelona, but who are the players who could be a potential bargain for most European clubs?
The list of talented players in La Liga isn’t just limited to the ‘big three’ of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid as you will see them spread out across the league.
Despite the unlikelihood of another young Lionel Messi coming into the league, there are definitely exciting ‘gems’ that should be seriously considered by clubs such as Liverpool – here are a couple that I have taken a closer look at:
Manu Trigueros – Villarreal
Since watching him consistently from the 2017/18 season up to now, I’ve been nothing but impressed about Trigueros’ game.
Despite not being at his usual best due to Villarreal’s poor start, which has coincided with not only the manager being recently sacked but the fact that the player himself has been misused, Trigueros’ attributes should be on the checklist of any scout.
Rather than being played in a wider position this season, the midfielder’s best position is in a more central position either in a midfield three or in a double-pivot, which worked so well with the now-Atlético Madrid player, Rodri last season.
Trigueros’ passing stands out as one of his main strengths whenever watching him, as not only are his passes immaculate but his choice of passes are excellent.
One of the reasons he would become so valuable to any side is due to his ability to play in the first and second phase, as he helps considerably in Villarreal’s buildup in the first phase and in orchestrating attacks with his press resistance and passing from the second.
The reason why I feel he is what Liverpool are missing in midfield is the fact he would go a long way in improving errors in possession that we currently have. Due to his high-volume passing numbers throughout his career (60 passes per90), higher than all current Liverpool midfielders, Trigueros would improve our build up and level of control dramatically.
As seen in the graph below, Trigueros ranks as one of the highest in terms of pass volume and shots assisted last season in La Liga last season:
The Spaniard’s persistent movement to always receive in space during Villarreal’s build up would be very valuable to Liverpool, as not only would it help to make our build up play less predictable it would also make it possessions more central orientated rather than wide through the fullbacks.
This would be important because it would give more responsibility and licence for our most creative and technical players to thrive if the build-up is focused centrally.
As well as this Trigueros would increase our level of control due to the fact that in big games the likes of Milner and Wijnaldum have shown they can’t control or see out games through possession, which is something that Trigueros would excel at. In times of trying to hold onto a lead, he would bring control and order to our midfield through his passing and retaining of possession when under pressure.
Whilst he isn’t as tall or as strong as other midfielders, Trigueros uses his height and athleticism to his advantage. He uses his small size to his advantage as, with the likes of Lucas Torreira, it becomes almost harder to dispossess these smaller players as their agility and low centre of gravity means they can put himself between the ball and their opponent with such ease, making him so reliable in possession.
I have no doubts he would easily translate his skills over to the Premier League if Liverpool were to ever get him.
Maxi Gomez – Celta Vigo
For many people if you ask them of a Uruguayan striker that plays in La Liga you would only think of one man, but for the past two seasons the Celta Vigo’s striker Maxi Gomez is putting up a case to being the top Uruguayan in the league.
The 21-year-old who joined Celta in the summer of 2017 has impressed many with many noticeable traits. As well as being a very intelligent striker, the 6′ 1″ Gomez, nicknamed ‘Toro’ (the Bull) back in Uruguay, thrives in holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into attack.
This is shown in his number of key passes per 90 minutes, which he does so with a Suarez-esque style by backing into his defenders almost pulling them back with every step.
Despite his South American aggressiveness when holding the ball up, Gomez isn’t as involved in attacks as a Roberto Firmino would be as he can be static in attack.
This isn’t a problem per say as the Uruguyan uses his excellent movement and intelligence inside the box to free himself from his defender whilst attacking the six-yard box. We can see his intelligence of finding space in the box in his shot map below:
This is impressive for a striker as Gomez will regularly supply his team with clear and big chances rather than speculative shots from unlikely goal scoring positions.
With a combined total 33 goals and assists since the start of last season (25 goals and 8 assists), Gomez’s attacking output on the face of it looks very impressive, but with every attacker their stats need to be looked into deeper.
Over the past two seasons his xG90 have been 0.47 (17/18) and 0.36 (18/19), which is made even more impressive with the fact that he’s only taking about two shots per90. All of his goals this season have come inside the area and has the most headed goals throughout the European leagues, but to brand him as a typical poacher would be too simplistic.
Despite Roberto Firmino being the undisputed starter for Liverpool up front and with the uncertainty over who’s the back up for the Brazilian, the addition of Gomez may become a great bargain.
Not adverse to being aggressive and physical with his defenders, the Celta Vigo striker’s skills and traits should be transferable to the Premier League, and a combination of Gomez’s movement and intelligence with a team who will create numerous chances for him it’s something Michael Edwards may already be looking at.