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Paco Alcacer linked in swap deal as Villarreal prepare for Champions League football

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Unai Emery looks to revamp his attack by bringing in Valencia forward Gonçalo Guedes.

Villarreal CF v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by Michael Sohn - Pool/Getty Images

Villarreal, according to Marca, wants to swap Paco Alcacer for Gonçalo Guedes. Guedes cost Valencia 44m from PSG, but is currently valued at only 15 million euros by Transfermarkt (we’ll include or normal disclaimer that tmarkt figures are only ballparks and by no means objective). As someone who has ardently defended Paco on the comment threads over the last year and a half, I do, of course, have thoughts on this. I don’t love the move, though not for the reasons you might thing.

Gonçalo Guedes

Guedes had a solid season for Valencia, bringing in five goals and five assists in the league. He broke his minutes in the league down as 963 left midfield minutes, 639 central forward minutes, 636 minutes as a central attacking midfielder, and a statistically insignificant smattering of minutes at other positions.

His versatility is certainly part of the appeal, here. In theory, he could share time with Moi on the left in the 442 and also probably step into Trigueros’ role in a 433, though he’s not as much of a pure possession midfielder as Manu. I think if we bring in Guedes we are still looking at going out and signing a central striker if he arrives, because while he can play there it’s not his best position. More importantly to our purposes he’s not the style of striker we need to complement Gerard. Observe:

Guedes doesn’t occupy opposing CBs as a ST.
smarterscout.com

When Guedes plays the 9 role, he tends to drop deep and roam around, which is exactly what Gerard does in a 442. He would need to change this style of play to fit with Gerard at Villarreal, because in a 442 at least one of the strikers needs to occupy the opposing CBs, one of the reasons why Bacca started the UEL Final.

Guede’s most effective seasons at Valencia in terms of xG and xA were his first two seasons there under Marcelino. He hasn’t been as good since but then neither has the rest of the team around him. I think there’s a question to be asked as to whether he simply needs that improved quality around him again (which he’d get at Villarreal) or if his success was about the style of play under Marce, which of course won’t be repeated here.

How he fits at Villarreal

My biggest problem with this transfer is that I wonder what this does to Yeremi’s playing time. Yeremi has shown he can play on the left or the right but presuming Samu is back on the right side his best chance for minutes are probably either competing with Moi for time on the left or playing with Gerard up top. I think we all agree that Yeremi’s best position isn’t up top. Yeremi also, in my opinion, has more long term upside than Guedes, and I don’t want to impede his development by bringing someone in on top of him.

This move also leaves us with an even bigger question mark at striker. It would basically signal the world that we are in the market for a 9, and they are expensive. I think we do probably need a different style striker than what we currently have, but it’s hard to make the sort of shrewd moves we are known for when the whole world knows what position we are shopping for.

Conclusion

I’m not outright opposed to it, because he’s a good player and Paco doesn’t seem to fit, but I need to know immediately what the plan is for Yeremi and Moi before he arrives. If Yeremi is going to be loaned out or Moi is going to be sold (which would be tragic in its own right) then I see an opening in the minutes where he can play his best position. If the notion is to bring him in and play him as a striker or if his arrival is going to hurt Yeremi’s development in any way, I don’t want anything to do with it.

Thoughts groguets?