As the transfer treadmill begins to gather pace with tabloids churning out entanglements of rumour and agent riddles, the likelihood of finding a summer bargain diminishes. Inter, however, have largely avoided the media circus with their signing of young Eddie Salcedo. The Serie A side made Salcedo’s loan move from Genoa permanent for €8,000,000 or around £7,000,000 for those outside of EU persuasion.
The story so far
Starting out as a Genoa product, Salcedo began garnering a reputation in 2017/18 playing in Primavera 1. In his first season, at just 16, Salcedo scored six goals in 24 matches, which earned him 31 first team minutes for the Serie A side. Inter took an interest in the Columbian domiciled striker and brought him in on loan with an option to buy at the end of 2018/19.
Despite not making a first-team appearance for his new club last season, Salcedo continued on his upward trajectory. Another successful season in Primavera 1 saw him net 12 goals in 25 games for Inter U19s. This was enough to convince I Nerazzurri of his ability and they quickly capitalised on the option to buy clause.
Salcedo by trade is a centre forward, and in 17/18 with Genoa, he spent 2,187 minutes occupying this position. But simple labels don’t work for this versatile striker who a season on has developed into a more diverse forward. Inter coaches have identified facets within Salcedo’s game which make him a potential winger as well as a goalscoring threat. This season under Inter tactics, Salcedo spent an equal amount of time on the left-hand side as he did as a striker.
The heat map above shows Salcedo’s natural inclination to move left. Being right-footed this makes him a tyrant for defenders when he cuts inside. Salcedo scored seven of his 12 goals in Primavera 1 when playing on the left wing. This demonstrates that his goal threat is not lost, rather enhanced when moved out of the number nine position.
Style of play
Salcedo is a pacey player with strength, tight control and dynamism that allows him to take on defenders. With an athletic frame and a low centre of gravity, his direct dribbling game ties in perfectly with his finishing adeptness as he is able to start and finish moves on his own.
In transition, Salcedo has the awareness to understand his role in attacks. The Italian can see the ball is on the right wing and players are in support, so rather than drop into the empty space in midfield he stays wide. This allows the play to develop around him, whilst maintaining his threatening position.
Salcedo stays tight to the touchline and the ball eventually finds him. By taking up such a wide position and not getting drawn inside too soon, the youngster has created space for him to receive the pass. This has also pulled the full-back out of his defensive structure, leaving gaps in the half spaces. This awareness to stay wide until the optimum moment enables Salcedo to go on to score in this move.
As you can see above, the defender is isolated and an underlap run is made inside him, exploiting his positioning. This overload gives Salcedo options, which he uses to devastating effect.
Salcedo bides his time and allows the underlap runner to bypass him to give himself more space to move inside. He now has the option to play a penetrative pass into the half-space however, he is now in a 1v1 situation, which is where he is superior. The striker had a successful dribble rate of 68.3% in Primavera 1 last season averaging 7.34 per game.
This time is no different and Salcedo beats his man with pace and guile, cutting inside into the space created by the underlap. He is now in his favoured central position where he can use his finishing ability and slot the ball in the bottom corner from range.
Without using his positional awareness early in the move, Salcedo would not have had the space available in a later phase of the attack. Using tactical nous in concomitance with a lethal right foot, his multi-faceted style is a constant threat to opposing defences.
How does he compare?
Salcedo finished as the eighth top scorer in Primavera 1, which is no mean feat considering his competition are a few years older than him. A comparison below shows how the Columbian matched up against other top scorers in the division. From this data, some areas of development for the 17-years-old have been identified.
The first graph measures the top goal scorers of Primavera 1 on their total goals scored in 2018/19 against their total expected goals (xG). The size of the circles indicates the number of minutes per each player’s goal. The smaller the dot, the more prolific the player.
As we can see, Salcedo has outscored a number of his rivals and in relation to his total xG (9.69), we can see he has scored more than expected. With a goal every 132.7 minutes, this strike rate is something Salcedo will look to improve in the coming years to give him the best chance of breaking into the first team. Exceptional players such as Žan Celar, is scoring a goal every 82.9 minutes. Being three years younger than Celar, Salcedo can use this statistic as a benchmark to strive for in the coming years.
The next graph drills into the numbers further to understand specifically how Salcedo can improve his strike rate. The graph measures the number of goals scored against the total number of shots on target for the season. The size of the circles is relative to the shot accuracy percentage of each player. Therefore, the bigger the dot, the better the shot accuracy.
Salcedo is registering more shots on target than the majority of his league rivals, totalling 87 for the season. With more shots, you’d expect more goals, however, this isn’t the case with Salcedo. There are several players who have had fewer shots but scored more goals. Highly rated Piccoli, for example, scored 14 goals from just 74 shots on target.
This highlights a potential area of improvement for the youngster. The data indicates Salcedo is shooting too frequently in situations where he is less likely to score. His finishing ability is helping him to find the target, however, the graph shows he is often not making the right choices on the ball. This will be an area Inter coaches will look to improve to ensure Salcedo is as clinical as possible.
To further support this point, Salcedo’s shot accuracy for the season is down at 40.2%. This compared to 45.14% which is the average of the other players demonstrates Salcedo is below par in this area.
The final graph adds context to the figures and highlights why Inter have paid over £7 million for the Italian youngster. The graph measures the total goals scored against the game time for each player in 2018/19. The size of the circles is relative to the minutes per goal of each player.
Salcedo is above the trend line, which means he is outscoring the average amount of goals which should have been scored relative to the number of minutes he has played (1,592). This is also an explanation for why Salcedo’s circle is one of the smaller data points, as he is scoring well in relation to his time on the pitch.
The analysis shows there are players who played more minutes than Salcedo last season, yet didn’t register as many goals. Cannavo, for example, scored six goals in 2,083 minutes, which is a much worse strike rate (347.2).
There are also instances where players have outscored Salcedo, which initially indicates they’ve had a better season. However, they are below the goal tally expected of them in relation to their minutes played. Rauti scored 15 goals in 2,424 minutes, giving him minutes per goal of 161.1. This compared to the trend is below average as with this amount of minutes you would expect Ruati to score at least another goal.
It is too soon to determine just how good Salcedo will be. At 17 he has time on his side and as seen, has the potential to become a prolific striker. The next few seasons are key to Salcedo’s development as coaches will look to finesse his abilities and turn him into a clinical, consistent centre forward. With the jump in standard so vast between Serie A and Primavera 1, it’s difficult to see 2019/20 being the breakthrough season for the youngster, however, a debut appearance and a first team goal is something that should be strived for.
It’s a good signing for the future by Inter who have Lukaku on the horizon in the present. Salcedo will be hoping opportunities are there for going forward to show he too can make an impact.
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