Recruitment Analysis 2019/20: Sampdoria - tactical analysis tactics
Artwork by @chapulana

Sampdoria have recruited impressively over the last few seasons and have once again highlighted their nous in the transfer market by bringing in Jeison Murillo, Gonzalo Maroni and Julian Chabot this summer. As our tactical analysis of the tactics that new coach Eusebio Di Francesco will look to implement shows, Sampdoria will need to use their transfer skills to sign one or preferably two wingers. This recruitment analysis will present options for either wing that would prove astute signings for the club.

Method

My process in order to find these players was to create the profile needed for a Di Francesco winger and then use Wyscout’s immense database to pick out some options for Sampdoria. Afterwards, I watched a lot of footage of these players in order to connect the statistics to the actual performances on the pitch. Some players needed more footage, of course, since I did not have the same background information on them. This method has created a shortlist of wingers that I believe would be very clever signings for the club.

Recruitment Analysis 2019/20: Sampdoria - tactical analysis tactics
Di Francesco likes his wingers to come inside and contribute to the team’s construction of attacks while leaving the flanks open for the full-backs to attack. However, his wingers must also be able to attack the space in behind, often starting from the wide area.

As highlighted in this analysis, Di Francesco wants wingers who can attack the space in behind a defensive line as well as drift into the half-spaces to construct attacks and create chances from central areas. They must also be able to supply crosses from wide areas and contribute 5-10 goals. This led me to look for players based on their ability to produce crosses, through passes and passes into the box. Furthermore, I looked to find good dribblers who could earn ground by dribbling and running with the ball. I also wanted to see how many shots they managed to produce. Additionally, I wanted a left-footed right-winger and vice versa due to the way Di Francesco wants his wingers to play. I also needed to take the potential cost of a transfer into the equation since Sampdoria are hardly flush with money. This created the shortlist below.

Right-wing

Matteo Politano
Age: 25
Inter
Estimated cost: €20m or loan.

In many ways, Matteo Politano is the one winger that makes the most sense for Sampdoria to pursue. He played under Di Francesco at Sassuolo and can play on either side. He is best on the right, however. Given Antonio Conte’s Inter will play 3-5-2 and Politano cannot fulfil the defensive demands of a Conte wing-back, the Italian international might be sacrificed. Inter must create the capital needed to pursue Romelu Lukaku and selling Politano makes sense despite his loan being made permanent only a few weeks ago. Statistically, Politano fits the bill. He averaged 5.01 crosses at a 35.3% success rate in Serie A last season and also averaged 4.31 passes to the box and 1.08 through passes. His playmaking ability is combined with him making 7.81 dribbles on average as well as 3.42 progressive runs, suggesting the ability to progress the ball on his own. Politano is a lovely creator at his best but he also boasts a good strike with his left and made 2.64 shots per game last season. He makes a lot of sense and would not be expensive.

Adnan Januzaj
Age: 24
Real Sociedad
Estimated cost: €20-25m.

This might surprise a few people but Januzaj could prove an inspired signing. His time in Spain has been plagued by injuries but when he has played he has generally done very well. Real Sociedad have a host of attacking players and Januzaj might be one they can cash in on. The Belgian is thrilling to watch at his best and stacks up well statistically. His playmaking coming off the right is one of his main strengths and he averaged 4.85 passes to the box and 1.85 through passes in La Liga last season. His crossing is also very good, averaging 3.62 crosses with 39.6% being successful. What makes him stand out among these options, though, is his dribbling. Januzaj averaged 12.23 dribbles last season, which is considerably more than anyone else I have looked at. His 4.24 progressive runs are very impressive as well. Januzaj can play centrally as well as out wide and therefore fits Di Francesco’s system very well. This might not be financially possible for Samp, but if they could get Januzaj he could certainly earn them a profit in a few years should he thrive.

Emiliano Rigoni
Age: 26
Zenit
Estimated cost: €12m.

Rigoni is the name mostly linked to Sampdoria at the moment and it is easy to see why. He didn’t really fit at Atalanta, where he spent the first half of last season, but, as he has shown in Russia, there is a real player there. Rigoni mostly catches the eye with his impressive dribble average of 7.72, but the stats also highlight an ability to link play due to his 4.89 passes to the box. His high average of crosses, 6.27 with 29.7% being successful, suggests a player that can fill the specific Di Francesco role well. There have been rumours that a deal has been agreed of a loan with an obligation to buy for €12m, which would see the skilful Argentine claim the right-sided slot of Di Francesco’s attack. It would be a very good signing aimed at providing Di Francesco with a more direct winger who looks to get in behind more than coming inside to link the play such as Politano or Januzaj would.

Adam Ounas
Age: 22
Napoli
Estimated cost: €8-12m or loan.

While Samp have been linked with Napoli’s Simone Verdi, who would be an excellent signing, he seems destined to move to Torino instead. That means Samp could target Verdi’s Algerian teammate Adam Ounas. Ounas has struggled for playing time at the San Paolo and only played 534 minutes over 18 appearances in Serie A last season. That means his stats are slightly skewed, but they still make for interesting viewing. For example, Ounas averages 9.18 dribbles, 4.59 progressive runs and 3.21 shots. His playmaking abilities are demonstrated with his 6.43 passes to the box and 1.68 through passes. He also manages 4.44 crosses. His close control and skill in tight spaces combined with his dribbling ability suggest he could fit very well into the very specific winger profile of Di Francesco’s and he could probably be picked up on a significantly lower fee than the other options on this list.

Left-wing

Sam Larsson
Age: 26
Feyenoord
Estimated cost €6-9m.

The Swedish winger has been linked with moves to Italy in the past and Sampdoria would be a good move at this point of his career. His directness would certainly be appreciated by Di Francesco with Larsson averaging 8 dribbles and 3.44 progressive runs last season. He often cuts inside to shoot and averaged 2.28 shots last season. Playing off the left, Larsson is very much a more traditional winger but could probably make a seamless transition into a more central position similar to that made by Diego Perotti at Roma. Larsson showed this ability last term with 3.71 passes to the box, and his technical ability and quick thinking are useful attributes in central areas. He is still somewhat inconsistent though but when at his best he is a very good winger. For that price, someone should pounce.

Donyell Malen
Age: 20
PSV
Estimated cost: €10m.

Donyell Malen is another impressive Eredivisie winger who seems ready for a move. The former Arsenal youngster scored 10 goals in the league last term and impressed with his wing play from the left. His 6.99 dribble average is impressive, as are his 3.26 shots and 3.39 crosses. Malen is a winger who makes things happen and is very adept in terms of passing with him averaging 3.12 passes to the box and 1.7 through passes. The comparison to Memphis Depay is obvious, and Malen’s physique would be a great asset in Italian football. His technical ability combined with his pace and strength make him a very good prospect and someone Sampdoria would be clever to pursue. His value will likely double in a year or two so it would be smart to sign him now.

Giorgi Chakvetadze
Age: 19
Gent
Estimated cost: €10-15m.

Chakvetadze is probably the player on this list I’m most excited about. The Georgian creator has impressed in Belgium and is destined for bigger clubs. Capable of playing centrally as well as on the left-wing, Chakvetadze would be an inspired signing for Samp. His 8.3 dribbles and 4.58 progressive runs tell you about his ability to move with the ball, while his 4.62 passes into the box and 2.09 through passes impressively highlight his playmaking ability. Additionally, Chakvetadze averaged 1.98 shot assists last season, further demonstrating his creativity. I think his position in the future will be centrally, either as a number 10 or in a three-man midfield, but for now, he would be a great addition out wide. Samp can then nurture him into a more central role in a few years. He would fulfil all the requirements in terms of ability to progress the ball on his own but also about drifting inside to link their possession play. For that price, it really should be a no-brainer.

Oussama Idrissi
Age: 23
AZ Alkmaar
Estimated cost: €5-10m

The final player on this list is also picked up from the Eredivisie. Oussama Idrissi is a very direct winger who thrives on the left-wing. He is a very good dribbler, averaging 10.2 dribbles last season, and also manages 4.49 progressive runs per game. His directness is also seen in his contribution around the penalty area. Idrissi wants to create things which is demonstrated by his 2.99 shots, 1.95 shot assists and 4.76 passes into the box. He is a creative winger ready for a step up. Last season, he scored eight goals and made seven assists in the Netherlands which shows him to a scorer as well as a provider of goals. He would take time to adjust to Italian football, but he could really thrive in the direct nature of a Di Francesco side.

Conclusion

Sampdoria have a good squad which is well-suited to Di Francesco’s tactics. However, they lack wingers. This recruitment analysis piece has been based on our tactical analysis of Di Francesco’s methods and identified eight possible wing options for the club. One right-winger and one left-winger from this bunch would go a long way in improving a club that could challenge for Europe given the right additions in the final weeks of the transfer market.


Total Football Analysis Magazine #11: July 2019 - tactical analysis tactics
Artwork by @chapulana

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