How will Enes Ünal fit in at Getafe? – scout report
Enes Ünal signed for Manchester City in 2015 as an 18-year-old yet never made an appearance. Three loan spells later, he moved to Villarreal, but was sent on a two-year loan to Real Valladolid in the summer of 2018. Subsequent to his two seasons in Valladolid, Ünal, only 23 now, was signed permanently by Getafe for a fee of just over £8 million. With journeyman striker and club legend Jorge Molina not being offered a new contract, Getafe opted to sign Ünal to fill the central-striker void. This tactical analysis will not only focus on Ünal individually, but it will also concern how he may fit into the system that manager José Bordalás employs.
We will begin by addressing his heatmap from last season.
As expected, the penalty area is one of the more deeply coloured areas, suggesting Ünal’s willingness to ultimately get in the box and score goals – the number one task for any striker. More strikingly, both the left and right channel areas appear deeply-yellowed. While this implies comfort as playing as either a left or a right striker, it also suggests Ünal’s desire to take up a wider starting position when not on the ball. These starting positions can cater for diagonal movements into the box, as opposed to straight runs (which are much easier to defend).
He made 35 appearances for Real Valladolid last season, scoring six goals and making one assist. He managed the 12th most shots in La Liga last season, with 2.14 per 90, accruing an xG of 10.61. The underperformance of his xG by 4.61 leaves a lot to be desired in a finishing sense, but the figure does attest to an ability to get into goalscoring positions. His shot map below displays his shots and goals in the last 12 months in all matches. The locations of his shots and goals are mostly clustered together in the centre of the box.
As displayed by his high xG figures, Ünal is able to get himself into goalscoring positions. Although obvious, it is hugely beneficial for a striker to move intelligently off the ball. Midfielders need something to aim at in the box and if your striker is adept at getting into good positions, you will inevitably create more chances and score more goals.
The graph above maps the xG of La Liga strikers last season against minutes played. Ünal can be seen above average in both departments: in 2523 minutes, he accrued an xG of 10.61 (against averages of 1730 and 5.9 respectively). He is also above the trend line that is plotted. The graphs below offer a summary of Ünal’s attacking output.
His biggest attacking strength is definitely his ability in the air. At 1.87m tall, Ünal is a threat and likes to attack crosses. By starting his forward runs slightly wider, Ünal can slip into the box to receive looped crosses to the back post. Players of this ilk are hard to defend, especially when you play to their strengths. The still below shows Salisu with the ball out wide for Valladolid and Ünal taking up his starting position on the edge of the box, seemingly being watched by the defender behind him.
The starting position is good, as it allowed Ünal to get a good run at the ball before attacking it in the air. The cross was floated, enabling Ünal to judge the ball’s flight and time his run effectively. Though tall, Ünal is quick off the mark, and could dart forward away from the defender behind him and leap ahead of the unsuspecting defender. Against a cross with not much pace, it was impressive of Ünal to gain enough power to send the ball back the other way and into the net. He also scored an excellent diving header in a match against Mallorca last season, in which he used the power of a low cross to steer the ball into the far corner. His ability to score all types of headers is an impressive aspect of his game.
A final strength of his that must be noted is the threat he poses on the counter-attack. He is able to drive the team forward when he has the ball, but also looks to drive forward when he does not. As noted, he is quick off the mark and last season averaged 1.61 actions in counter-attacks per 90, a lot of which were accelerations. His xGChain in counter-attacks last season was 0.09 per 90, and his % of xGChain in counter-attacks was 16.83 – both well above the league average. He is a very hard-worker, and keen to make runs in-behind. He received the 25th most long passes of La Liga attackers last season with 2.32 per 90.
One worrying weakness is Ünal’s finishing. As stated, he scored just 6 goals against an xG of 10.61 last season – the third biggest xG underperformance of La Liga strikers. This should not be discouraging; he has plenty of time to work on his aspect of his game and it seems that Getafe are committed to helping him progress. He can get into the positions well, so the finishing will come eventually.
Another concern about Ünal’s game is his ability to keep possession of the football. As shown below, Ünal is one of the few La Liga strikers with below average pass and dribble completion rates. Just 72.83% of his passes last season reached the desired target, and he only succeeded in 43.75% of his dribbles. When this is coupled with the fact that last season he won just 46.73% of his defensive duels and 28.68% of his offensive duels, it is no wonder why he averaged 16.44 losses per 90 last season – a losses figure in the top decile of all La Liga players.
Finally, although last season he made 1.18 final third and 0.39 dangerous recoveries per 90 (amounting to one goal and an xG of 1.42), his general recovery figures are not as inspiring. He made just 2.6 recoveries per 90 last season which, as shown below, is an underwhelming figure. Perhaps this was just a product of the system he played in last season, but to fit in with Getafe’s intense style, Ünal needs to show signs of being able to improve these figures.
Who is Ünal replacing?
38-year-old Jorge Molina made 40 appearances for Getafe last season. Ünal is a direct replacement for Molina, who was a hard-working, physical striker, and an excellent servant for Getafe. There will be hope that Ünal can replicate the industriousness of Molina, and be another long-term servant who can develop his game at Getafe. With an understanding of who Ünal is replacing, we will now consider key aspects of Getafe’s game and how he will fit into the system of manager José Bordalás. We will also compare him to Molina to see if he possess the attributes required to replace the Spaniard.
Defending from the front
José Bordalás and Getafe pride themselves on defensive solidity – they conceded just 37 goals last season. Such defending begins from the front, with the two strikers. Their PPDA of 6.6 was the lowest of any La Liga team last season, with the league average being 9.67. They also made the third most recoveries in the league last season, with 80.51 per 90, and the second most in the final third, with 12.49. Below are two recovery maps. The first one displays all the final third recoveries in Getafe’s final five games of the season (note how many of these occur out wide – an area which Ünal is not afraid to occupy). The second is their general recovery map of the season, where a deeper blue displays a greater-than-average recovery figure.
Ünal must be prepared to work hard in defence. As touched upon earlier, his 1.18 final third recoveries per 90 is a good starting point. In fact, the figure surpasses that of Jaime Mata (one of Getafe’s main strikers last season), who averaged just 1.04 per 90. Their counterpressing recovery figures are almost identical also, with Ünal averaging 1.82 per 90 and Mata 1.84. The still below depicts Ünal chasing a hopeful long ball forward.
He is keen to press and does not give up on the ball, and following a miscommunication between the defender and goalkeeper, Ünal uses his acceleration to get past both players and tap into an empty net. His desire to press, chase long balls and not give up on loose balls is undeniably a factor which attracted him to Bordalás.
The long pass
Getafe played a 4-4-2 in 85% of league matches last season. The system has brought Bordalás relative success and he is unlikely to deviate from it. While in attack the strikers begin narrow, the most frequent tactic Getafe use to get forward is a long ball over the backs of the defence. Getafe made the least passes per 90 of all La Liga teams last season with 262.26, yet the second most long passes per 90, with 53.18. Their strikers need to be willing runners in behind and able to link up play with supporting runners.
As displayed, Ünal is a willing runner in behind, and he possesses an impressive turn of pace for a man of his size. He received the 25th most long passes of any La Liga attacker last season, with 2.32 per 90. Upon receiving the ball, he is able to hold it up effectively, but will sometimes be required to beat a man too. He attempted 2.2 dribbles per 90 last season and had a success rate of 43.75%. These figures are underwhelming, especially when compared to Molina, who attempted 3.43 dribbles per 90 and was successful 53.25% of the time. However, as a team, Getafe are not keen dribblers, so Ünal’s dribbling will not upset Bordalás too much.
Ünal is still prepared to play in a system which utilises the long pass. The still below shows him attacking the space in behind after a perfectly timed run. He darts past the defender, and is able to square to his teammate for an easy tap-in.
A preference for crosses and set-pieces
As displayed, Getafe play in a very direct fashion in attack. They attempted just the 16th most dribbles in the league last season, with 20.26 per 90. Instead, Getafe like to hit crosses into the box. Their 17.18 crosses per 90 last season was the fourth highest of all La Liga teams, while their 37% success rate was the joint-highest. Their crosses map from the final five games of the season is shown below.
Set pieces can be an important attacking outlet, and Getafe will undoubtedly be looking to build on their set piece threats for next season. Their corners will often either go short to provide a better angle for a cross, or into the six-yard area (63% of their corners last season were one of the two). Yet, despite having the joint-fifth most set pieces last season (with 167), Getafe amassed an xG of just 1.84 – the fifth lowest figure. Clearly, accuracy of delivery and absence of a clear target was a problem.
It is likely Ünal will provide this target. He scored two great headers last season (Molina did not score any), so is definitely a welcome threat in threat in the air. Also, as Ünal will occasionally be the man who runs the channels in behind, he is likely to be delivering some crosses of his own. He had a crossing success rate of 44.44% last season – far superior to Molina’s 35%.
Of course, Ünal’s primary task is to score goals, and Getafe will have signed him hoping that he can do such. Getafe scored just 43 goals last season (45.5 xG), a tally bettered by 11 teams and doubled by Barcelona. Bordalás will have been keen to sign a striker who would not only boost the goals total, but the xG total also. Getafe are very strong at the back, but goals win games, and had they scored just a few more last season, they would have definitely achieved a European finish.
As shown by his xG underperformance, Ünal was far from clinical last season. However, the high xG figure attests to his ability to get into good positions. His xG per 90 last season was 0.38, far superior to Molina’s 0.22. However, Ünal only managed 0.21 goals per 90 – Molina 0.22. It is clear that Ünal has the potential to score more than ten goals next season, but he needs to be willing to brush up on his finishing. Bordalás will undoubtedly be willing to work with him to get his finishing up to the standard of Molina.
Finally, Getafe duel intensely in all areas of the pitch, and there is a general expectation that their players will fight for results. Despite embarking upon only the 12th most offensive duels per 90 last season (55.48), Getafe engaged in the third most defensive duels (61.62 per 90 with a success rate of 58%), the second most aerial duels (53.51 per 90, 45% success rate) and the most loose ball duels (42.5 per 90, 42% success rate) of all La Liga teams.
Ünal must be prepared to battle in the same vein as his teammates. The graph below displays how Ünal’s duelling figures last season stack up against all other La Liga strikers and Molina. He is around average in his offensive and defensive duel figures, which is not discouraging, but we should expect him to embark upon and hopefully win far more next season. While defensively he comfortably surpasses Molina’s figures, the veteran is well ahead in the offensive duels category. What stands out is his aerial duel figure. His 4.82 won per 90 dwarfs the average of 2.46 and is a marked improvement on Molina’s figure. We can conclude that Ünal will give Getafe that much needed aerial threat next season.
While he still has a lot of developing to do, Ünal could prove to be a genius signing. This scout report showed that the he possesses all of the basics required to be successful in a gritty Getafe side. His height brings an obvious benefit to Bordalás’s team, who now have that aerial target they were lacking last season. He is willing to use his frame in duels throughout the pitch and his deceiving pace is an advantage both for pressing and for the frequent balls in behind. Although his xG underperformance last season is a concern, his ability to take up good positions is encouraging, and it would not be surprising to see him score 10/15 goals in La Liga next season. This analysis showed it appears that Getafe have found their man to fill the Molina void, and while his departure upset the fans he served so well, Ünal could be the player to drive Getafe back into Europe next season.