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Villarreal linked to a defensive midfielder

Is Baptiste Santamaria from Angers the six we need?

Angers SCO v FC Nantes - Ligue 1 Photo by Eddy Lemaistre/Icon Sport via Getty Images

According a report from Marca, we are interested in Baptiste Santamaria of Angers in Ligue 1. Lyon, Sevilla, and others are apparently also interested in the defensive midfielder. Normally, a Marca report in the middle of March wouldn’t be something I’d spend too much time on, but hey it’s not like I’ve got a match preview to write or anything, so here goes.

Everyone always talks about the ‘Top Five’ leagues in Europe. I think, realistically, there are four top leagues and outside of Spain, England, Germany, and Italy a player really needs to be either early in his career or particularly talented for me to want him. Santamaria is a 25 year old defensive midfielder who has never played for anyone bigger than the current 10th best team in France. I’m not impressed by that.

He has the most interceptions in Ligue 1 completes 67% of his long . He’s also completed 58% of his tackles so far this season, and overall these are the kind of numbers I like to see from a six. He handles a decent passing load of 48 passes per 90, so in Ligue 1 he’s not a liability in attack. Given all this Angers would probably require a pretty solid fee for him., one of my favorite analytics sites, has a feature where they rate a player by a benchmark league of your choice. Naturally, my benchmark league is La Liga, so I ran a search on Santamaria and here’s what I got. Per smarterscout’s metrics, you’re looking at fairly weak attacking output for a DM (a score of 39 out of 100) which isn’t a huge deal, solid defensive quality (66 out of 100), great defensive quantity (93 out of 100), and weak ball retention (34 out of 100). I’m not too worried about the attacking output given our other midfielders, and I love the fact that he’s willing to work hard to have a high quantity of defensive interactions, but that ball retention number at a La Liga standard scares me to death. The ball retention metric on Smarterscout is defined as “the likelihood of keeping possession when executing a specific action at a specific location on the pitch, then compares that likelihood to individual players’ success in keeping possession in the same situations.”

We have question marks at CB going into next year, do you really want a defensive mid above them who is questionable retaining the ball? I absolutely do not. He’s not young enough for me to be optimistic about him getting exponentially better in the next few years, so what we’re looking at is a deeply flawed player who has found his level in the middle of Ligue 1.

I have no idea if we’re actually interested in this player but if we are, we should pass. Not interested. If you want to learn more about data from smarterscout, sign up for an account on their website. It’s free and it contains a lot of great data. They don’t sponsor VUSA in any way so I’m literally just passing on to you something I’ve benefited from. You can follow them on Twitter @smarterscout.