According to the remarkably reliable Fabrizio Romano, Pervis Estupinan to Villarreal is a ‘done deal’. for 15m plus add ons. I’ve sort of put off covering this rumor with all the season opener stuff this past weekend but it can’t wait anymore. Frankly, I’m aghast at paying this fee when Ramiro Funes Mori is our third center back, but without question the Ecuadorian is an upgrade over what we have over on the left. Let’s dig into the metrics.
The first thing that jumps out at you is of course, the successful dribbles. Estupinan at Osasuna last year loved carrying the ball down the left wing. After seeing basically no attacks come down the left side against Huesca, that could be a welcome change. (Personally, I think you need to get either Kubo or Ontiveros on the left with him, Moi just isn’t a threat over there.) The cost of those successful dribbles is a very high turnover rate, and the deep progression numbers are fine but not outstanding.
Worth pointing out, in reaction to yesterday’s match I saw two separate reactions. One that we were crossing way too much and another that we weren’t crossing enough. Estupinan crossed the ball 3.7 times per 90 minutes last year. Pedraza crossed the ball four times yesterday but only averaged 2.0 per 90 last season. If you don’t like crossing, buckle up and get ready for a lot more of it. If you do like crossing, this may be your guy.
Compared to Pedraza, you get improvements in a lot of areas. I particularly like his higher tackling percentage and as you can see he flat out creates more chances. Is this improvement worth 15m to a side in desperate need of a CB? Well, too be honest, it might be. The additions of Coquelin and Parejo in the center gave us more depth than we had last season in the center of the pitch without sacrificing quality, but that left side was just absolutely dead yesterday, and a left side pairing that can’t threaten Huesca is going to have a long season in La Liga. What’s worse, it appeared as though it was Pedraza who missed his marker on the Maffeo goal which ultimately cost us two points.
The biggest concern I have with Estupinan (who I think still has room to improve) is his ball retention. He is really, really turnover prone. That said, in Villarreal’s side he would have far better outlets than he ever had with Osasuna, Mallorca, or Almeria, so perhaps that will assuage those fears. The big question is whether a club with Villarreal’s budget can afford the risk involved in spending 15m on a player with only one year of top flight experience in a position that needs upgrading but is not the biggest need in the side.
I guess we are all about to find out.