Thiago Almada is Argentina's latest teenage jewel
There are three big things to know about Thiago Almada, besides the fact that he's just 18 years old. First, the smarterscout young prospect came out of Fuerte Apache, the same tough neighborhood near Buenos Aires that spawned Carlos Tevez. Second, Pep Guardiola is apparently a fan, and Manchester City may even have offered for Almada before he signed a new contract at Velez Sarsfield. And third, that new contract reportedly includes a release clause of €25m – which may turn out to be a bargain.
This past season we had the most minutes for Almada at LW, where his ball retention, skill in ground duels, and finishing stood out, even at a Premier League standard:
But it's as an attacking CM where Almada really seems to excel, carrying the ball forward and shooting:
In fact, Almada's shots from CM are of a slightly better quality – with about a 7% to 9% average estimated chance of scoring – than his shots from LW, where the chance is more like 5%. Almada hasn't played enough minutes yet at a position for us to use our "Search by similar player", but we can still look for guys whose playing styles fall in the same ranges using our "Search by metrics". These are the young players in Europe's top five leagues who fell in the right ranges:
This is quite the list! Looking a bit more closely, we can see that the closest matches were probably Houssem Aouar, whom we profiled recently, and Florian Neuhaus last season. Both play as attacking CMs or further forward if needed. Here's a side-by-side comparison with Almada, all at a Premier League standard:
The style similarity is uncanny, and Almada – though he hasn't had so many minutes yet – seems to stack up pretty well against his more accomplished counterparts. In fact, if he can keep up these metrics for attacking output, ball retention, ground duels, and finishing, then he'll be every bit as valuable in Europe. No wonder Guardiola was interested. The only question now is how long Almada stays in Argentina!
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