I can’t claim to have watched any of Luis Alberto’s games for Malaga this season, but it was disappointing to see the following tweet:
Not least as I was under the impression that he was actually doing pretty well, thanks to this radar tweet:
Having not seen the matches, I can’t provide a definitive answer to this difference of opinions, but I thought I’d take a closer look at the numbers in the above radar to see what they say to me about Alberto’s performance so far this season.
Let’s be clear before we go on; this is not an attempt to be overly critical of Luis Alberto, who is a young man who had a difficult year at Liverpool last season. I’m just looking to add some meat to the bones of the above radar.
With Malaga having won every league game since Alberto didn’t make the team too, it’s understandable if the manager doesn’t look to rush the young Spaniard back into his XI, regardless of the qualities that on-loan Liverpool player possesses.
It’s also essential to note that the Spaniard’s has only had a shade over four full games worth of pitch time so far, having not yet completed a whole match, so any conclusions at this point would have little or no long term strength.
Back to the radar; what stands out? Alberto’s creativity and dribbling figures appear to be superb, he hasn’t been dispossessed too often, and his figures for shot accuracy (Shooting %), goal conversion, shots and non-penalty goals all look healthy enough. Except that I’ve found some sizeable potential holes in some of the numbers…
Let’s start with creativity. If I’m assessing this for a player, I’m predominantly interested in what he does in open play. Being able to create chances from set plays is an important tool to have in your team’s armoury, but there’s a fair chance that any number of your players could do it to a reasonable extent, and not just the one that is assigned the duty. I want to know if a player can slice open opposition defences when they haven’t got time to hit a dead ball with all of their opponents at least ten yards away.
In Alberto’s case, his impressive figures are heavily boosted by taking set pieces for Malaga; his only assist came from a corner too, and one of the chances he created was via a throw-in. Only five of his twelve chances have been in open play, and of those five only one has been received by a teammate in the penalty box. In fairness, this still means that the on-loan Liverpool player has created 1.23 chances per ninety minutes, which is more than Coutinho, for instance, but it seems a more reasonable creative output for Alberto than the radar suggests.
In terms of his goalscoring and shooting figures, Alberto has benefitted on the radar thanks to a fairly unique situation; the one goal he has scored this season came as he slotted home a rebound after his penalty against Bilbao had been saved, as we can see here.
Technically this is of course a non-penalty goal. But equally I would assume (and if anyone has ever studied this I’d be grateful of a link) that these shots are converted at a higher rate than penalties themselves. Think about it; you have a free shot, from most likely closer than twelve yards, and the goalkeeper is probably lying on the floor!
Therefore, to try to provide a fairer assessment of Alberto’s shooting ability this season, I have excluded both the penalty and the follow-up from his figures. With those excluded, he has put three of his nine shots on target for an accuracy of 33%, which is equal to the league average for shot accuracy.
There’s certainly no issue with his impressive figures for completing dribbles. By completing one every thirty-seven minutes, he is ahead of every Liverpool player bar Sterling and Coutinho this season, and as seventy percent of Alberto’s successful take-ons have been in the final third, he certainly hasn’t boosted his figures by dribbling past opponents in non-threatening areas. He also doesn’t fail with attempted dribbles too often, hence the decent ‘Dispossessed’ figure. The Spaniard definitely gets a big tick on this front.
Regular readers will already know that I have little skill when it comes to graphics, but I have crudely put my new figures over the above radar to give what I believe is a more realistic picture of Luis Alberto’s output so far this season. To recap, the below figures do not include set pieces for the creative stats, or the penalty or subsequent rebound for the shooting stats.
In view of my research I would have to side with Christian’s tweet ahead of Ted’s, but I’m sure anyone who has regularly seen Alberto play this season can provide a better opinion than this. It certainly looks to me like the Spaniard has a long road ahead of him before he makes it at the top level though.