Okay, I was asked to do a rundown on the stats of Alan Franco, 23 year old CB from Independiente in Argentina. For the backbone of this analysis I’ll be using data from a place called ‘smarterscout’ whose work has been featured in The Athletic, Sports Illustrated, and others (including this blog). What I like most about smarterscout is that they have an algorithm that translates performance from one league to another, so in this case I can see- based on how he performs in Argentina, how he could be expected to perform in La Liga. Given that I almost never watch the Argentinian league unless it’s River/Boca, that’s very helpful to me. So, basically what I’m gonna do is pass on smarterscout’s conclusions, and reserve my own judgment because I don’t know enough about the player to have an educated say (I have a paid version of smarterscout which is where these visuals come from, but you can get a free version and see a lot of these metrics yourself.)
The first thing I want to look at with Franco is where he does his work. As a CB, how often does he get forward? Which side does he play on? These questions can tell us a bit about how he might theoretically fit at Villarreal.
Obviously, the fact that he’s a RCB is a plus, because that would mean he could slide in for Albiol without Pau having to change sides of the field. In the Argentinian league, he was much more active than Albiol was in La Liga in the attacking half of the pitch. Of course, a large part of this is systemic, but an open question for me would be as he adjusts to the higher standard of La Liga, is he going to get caught too far forward on counter attacks?
This next part is where scaling for league comes into play. My ‘benchmark’ league on smarterscout is the Primera in Spain (naturally) so what smarterscout will do is scale his output to how they think his numbers would translate to a La Liga setting. Here’s what we got:
For as far forward as he gets, his expected attacking output is very low. He really might as well stay at home in the defensive half with a 27 (out of 100). The defensive quality is pretty good, a 72, but I really don’t like that ball retention number, which is really right about average. (For reference, Pau Torres last year had a ball retention rating of 80 and is the same age as Franco).
Looking at the ‘style ratings’ above, with a very high link up score and a very low pass towards goal score, my impression is that Franco goes forward so that Independiente can recycle possession through him, but that he very often passes it sideways after he gets it.
Last thing on this particular chart, I really don’t like his dead ball aerial duel score, or either of his ground duel scores. Those should be higher.
To put a data point on some of these algorithmic conclusions, he lost the ball about 1.3 times per 90 last season, and I think smarterscout expects that to go up when he moves to a better league. Raul Albiol, by comparison was at 0.4 per 90. Franco did succeed in 70% of his attempted tackles last season, a number I really like, but again that number is likely to come down in a better league.
One final concern I have for Franco is the fact that to date his best season in the smarterscout metrics was 2017-2018. I really wonder about a young player in a lower quality league who so far has peaked as a 21 year old. Why hasn’t he measurably progressed?
All in all, Franco is an interesting player, but not one I would want for Villarreal based on this data.