Everton’s pursuit of 21 year-old forward Sandro Ramirez is complete.
Apparently, the lad’s a goalscorer.
Sandro himself: “My key strength is goalscoring. It’s always good to bring goals to a team and that’s what I’m hoping to do.”
Koeman: “He will bring a lot of good qualities and he’s a really good goalscorer, too. There was a lot of interest in Sandro because, of course, he’s a goalscorer”
14 goals for mid-table La Liga outfit, Malaga, last season in his first ‘proper’ year of first team football does indeed look pretty good. And, blimey, there were some good uns:
Controversial claim alert:
Long term, Sandro may not be that natural goalscorer.
Feel free to come back and haunt me at a later date, but hear me out…
Here’s all Sandro’s shots mapped out nicely on a viz. I say nicely, but this fella was the Elmer Fudd of La Liga last season discharging his double barreled shot gun whenever the goal came into view (and sometimes when it didn’t):
The Potential Problem
Sandro didn’t have the shot profile of a centre forward last year, just the goal tally of one. There aren’t enough shots from good areas in that set of shots. To illustrate this, I’ve filtered the viz for higher value chances according to my expected goal model (xG) and run it for the players with similar goal tallies to Sandro in La Liga last year:
Note the dearth of dots compared to the others. The difference is even more stark if you add the big boys like Messi, Neymar and Suarez in. I’ll put it another way: simulate that set of shots over and you can see that the average shooter in the average season would most likely score 7 goals, not 14:
The chances of a shooter getting 14 goals here is miniscule. The shooter is more likely to score 2 goals than he is to score 14.
Alright, to really break it down, Ronaldo was par with xG last season, Messi was 36% over his, Luis Suarez was 40% over his and Sandro was 88% over his. Unless Everton start laying it on a plate for him in front of goal, Sandro’s finishing will almost certainly regress back to less superhuman levels.
It’s not as if Malaga didn’t supply the ball into the box in those good areas in front of goal. They did. It just wasn’t Sandro getting on the end of them. Veteran striker Charles Dias got on the end of more of them than the youngster despite playing half the minutes:
What are Everton really getting then?
Good question. The lad can clearly play. The lad can clearly strike a football properly. But what’s his style and how did he fit in? Malaga were reliant on slinging the ball into the box from out wide when it came to creating chances in the mixer:
Sandro might as well have been playing for a different team. Here’s how his chances came to him:
Malaga don’t have too much in the way of great passing in the opposition half according to my xP model. But for a centre forward, the model likes Sandro’s passing. He has an eye for a difficult pass too, perhaps frustratingly being more wayward with the easier ones.
Despite this, his direct creativity was low overall. He only had two assists to his name last season which was in keeping with his expected assist (xA) numbers. This again perhaps highlights the the style clash with the rest of his team.
As stated above, the team in general crossed the ball a lot but he seemed quite good at sliding the ball into the box from more central areas to create opportunities for team mates:
Everton fans looking for a no.9 who holds it up better than Lukaku might be a bit disappointed. My model think’s he’s ok at it, but not much better than that (and my model think’s Lukaku’s better at it than you probably do).
We only have one full season of data for Sandro, but it seems likely that Sandro is a more of an all-round player than both he and his new manager give him credit for (at least in short public utterances).
Whether he’s the out and out goalscorer they think he is will depend on him and his team mates getting him free into the box a lot more than he has to date in his short career. Otherwise we’re likely to see a forward who gets deployed not just centrally but all across the top line as he finds his feet in the Premier League.
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