The next Fabregas: Data analysis shows “intelligent” Gambian ready for first team football at Roma
In this data analysis, we will look for players who play in the Italian development league, Primavera. The goal of this analysis is to find interesting young players who play in the central or defensive midfielder role. In recent years Primavera produced some very talented players who now play at top clubs. Some most recent products are Dejan Kuluševski, Nicolo Zaniolo and Manchester United wonderkid who played at Atalanta in the Primavera, Amad Diallo.
Analysis will provide us with essential pieces of information to find out which players are ready for the next step and possibly could play in Serie A next season. It contains Wyscout statistics from players who played more than 300 minutes in the league this season. After looking at graphs and player abilities for the midfielder position we choose three players. Those players will be marked with red colour. It is important to note that these players were chosen based on data and it doesn’t mean that we think that they are the best midfielders in the league, we just think they are worth monitoring.
Passing and progression
In the first section, we will take a look into midfielders primary tasks: distribution and progression. To evaluate those abilities we will first take a look into how much player is involved in passing and how accurate he is with his passes. We will use passes per 90 and passing accuracy % to evaluate and the size of the markers represents the number of attempted long passes per 90.
As we can see only two players are below 70% accuracy in the Primavera and most of the midfielders are between 30 and 50 passes per 90 minutes. Players we will evaluate in the graphs are Gerard Yepes from Sampdoria, Ebrima Darboe from Roma and Fabio Miretti from Juventus. Gerard Yepes looks very good on this graph. He attempts 54.47 passes per 90 with 84.5% accuracy and attempts 4.5 long passes per 90. His numbers show us that he is a reliable passer of the ball. Darboe averages 54.13 passes per 90 with 86.6% accuracy while also attempting 3.1 long passes per 90. Just like Yepes, Darboe is reliable passes and he attempts less long passes which leads to higher pass accuracy. The last player we will take a look into is Miretti. He is averaging 44.08 passes per 90 with an accuracy of 78.95%. Miretti also attempts 5.4 long passes per 90 indicating he is taking more risks than Darboe and Yepes. His pass accuracy and long pass numbers suggest Miretti more advanced role, we will find out more about him in the next graphs.
This graph contains progressive runs per 90 and progressive passes per 90. It is very important for central midfielders to make progress either by carrying the ball or passing it.
We can see that the players we highlighted are the one of the best in the league when it comes to progressive passing. Miretti looks the best because out of those three and he averages 9.49 progressive passes per 90 while also averaging 1.94 progressive runs per 90. Miretti shows promising numbers and it indicates that he is a very talented progressor of the ball. Darboe is closer to Miretti in progressive runs with 1.52 per 90 and also averages 8.6 progressive passes per 90. Yepes is a very good progressive passer with 9.43 attempts per 90, but he rarely progresses with the ball at his feet with only 0.52 progressive runs per 90. It makes sense now that Miretti is least accurate in the passing and Darboe is the most accurate given the difference of risk-taking between the two of them.
After evaluating passing ability in the previous section, in this section, we will evaluate the defensive qualities of the highlighted midfielders and how they look compared to the rest of the league. In the first graph in this section, we will take a look into successful defensive actions per 90 and PAdj interceptions. This data will give us information on players involvement in the defensive phase.
It is rare to see a player such dominant in those two metrics like Gerard Yepes. He is the only player in the league with 20+ successful defensive actions per 90 and also has the biggest PAdj interceptions in the league with 8.83. It profiles Yepes as a very hard-working player who reads the game well and shields his defensive line impressively. Miretti and Darboe are very close on this graph. Miretti averages 11.84 successful defensive actions per 90 with 6 PAdj interceptions. Darboe has slightly less in both metrics, averaging 11.63 successful defensive actions per 90 and 5.4 PAdj interceptions. Both of them are above average in both metrics compared to the rest of the midfielders. However they are far behind Yepes, but in this one, he is just on another level.
The next graph will show us the success rate in both defensive and aerial duels. Marker size represents the number of defensive duels per 90. This will show us if they are physically ready to compete on a senior level.
We could assume that Yepes will look very strong in this graph as well. He is winning 69.8% of his 16.5 defensive duels per 90 while also winning 58.6% of his aerial duels. Darboe is above average in both metrics by winning 61.7% of his 12.5 defensive duels per 90 and 46.7% of his aerial duels. Darboe shows that even though he is not tall(178cm) his jumping reach and timing help him win almost 50% of his aerial duels. Miretti is below average in both metrics and it isn’t surprising because he is one of the youngest midfielders in the league aged 17 who is still physically developing. He is winning 55% of his 12.2 defensive duels per 90 and 36.8% of his aerial duels.
This section shows that Yepes is the best midfielder in the league when it comes to defence, given his quality numbers in both graphs. Both Darboe and Miretti look good defensively, with Miretti still having a lot of room to improve in duels. However, he is still very young and he is playing his first Primavera season after dominating the U17 league last season.
In this section, we will take a look into players ability to impact the scoreline. The graph below contains two metrics goal contribution per 90 and xGoal contribution per 90. Goal contribution contains non-penalty goals per 90 and assists per 90 while xGoal contribution contains xG per 90 and xA per 90. It is good to know can midfielders make an impact close to the opponents goal either by scoring or assisting.
We can see that Darboe makes the highest goal contribution compared to the other defensive and central midfielders. He is averaging 0.87 goal contributions per 90 with 0.51 expected goal contributions per 90. It indicates that Darboe is overperforming the expected values showing his very good form this season. Miretti is underperforming his 0.28 expected goal contributions per 90 with 0.2 goal contributions per 90. Youngster is still able to make an impact and it will be interesting to see his numbers at the end of the season. As expected Yepes has the smallest impact compared to Darboe and Miretti given he is more defensively-oriented. Yepes averages 0.09 goal contribution per 90 and 0.13 expected goal contribution. His primary duty is to defend, but he shows signs that he can sometimes create for his teammates or get in chance to score.
We evaluated three very interesting players in Italian Primavera. Gambian midfielder Darboe from Roma is already on the verge to play for the first team and one of the most talented African players born in the 21st century. Because of his qualities, he is compared to Fabregas given his creative skills and intelligence on the field. Fabio Miretti is a Juventus academy product compared to their ex-footballer Claudio Marchisio, but it looks like he could be even better based on the talent he shows. Gerard Yepes is a Barcelona-born midfielder who plays at Sampdoria and looks like a very promising defensive midfielder. All three have different stories and play different roles for their teams in Primavera, but all of them show potential and could shine at a senior level in the near future.