Having reviewed and assessed the stats of Adam Lallana, Suso, Emre Can and Rickie Lambert, it’s now time for the latest Liverpool transfer target, Alberto Moreno, to get the Bass Tuned To Red review treatment. Whilst Ricardo Rodriguez is equally, if not more highly, rated, due to time constraints I shall stick to players that the Reds are widely reported to have made offers for.
As the Sevilla left back made four of his thirty-five league starts last season in midfield, it’s not really possible to do an exact like-for-like comparison with a single Liverpool player. The Reds did play with three at the back at times though, so the left-sided defender will sometimes have been higher up the pitch. But it’s important to remember that some of Moreno’s location data will be impacted by several games playing on the left-wing.
A look at the basic stat tallies reveals that he mostly posted similar numbers to the combined efforts of Enrique, Cisskoho and Flanagan, so I will compare that trio with the young Spaniard. Two of Liverpool’s three players were occasionally on the pitch together, and Flanagan appeared at right back at times, but this isn’t meant to be exactly like-for-like, just a guideline comparison.
In case you’re a newcomer to the site, here’s a pitch map explaining the various zones of the field that I use when compiling location data for chances (and now other stats too).
A perusal of Moreno’s WhoScored page revealed a player who intercepts opposition passes a hell of a lot. The Sevilla man averaged 2.5 interceptions per game, which is more than any member of the Liverpool squad averaged in 2013/14. In total, Moreno intercepted seventy-three opposition passes compared to the Reds’ three left backs’ tally of sixty-seven, and in fewer minutes on the pitch too.
Even allowing for the fact that interceptions are more common in Spain (16.3 per game on average) than England (13.7) for whatever reason, that’s still very impressive for a twenty-one year old. Let’s see how he compares to the Liverpool players, with the pitch broken down into thirds for this section. The total for Cissokho, Enrique and Flanagan is listed as ‘LFC 3’ in all tables that follow.
Although Liverpool’s players made a couple more interceptions in the final third in total, on average Moreno won the ball back higher up the pitch overall, and more frequently too. The Sevilla man cut out an opposition pass in the front two-thirds of the pitch every sixty minutes, whilst Flanagan, Enrique and Cissokho as a collective did so every 133.
Ball recoveries (also known as possession regains) have long been a statistic supposedly favoured by Liverpool, especially those committed high up the pitch. The club’s former director of football Damien Comolli was apparently a big fan of final third regains, for instance.
Luis Suárez topped the Premier League rankings for final third regains in his first two full seasons in England, and Reds’ target Adam Lallana took the honours last season. Does Moreno contribute much here?
As with interceptions, the Liverpool lads seem to have an edge in the final third, albeit Moreno complete’s a slightly higher proportion of them outside his own defensive third than Cissokho and Flanagan. On average, the Spaniard made one fewer per ninety minutes played, so there might be a slight drop off here if Moreno becomes Brendan Rodgers’ first choice left back.
That’s possession wins covered, so let’s take a look at the offensive side of the game. How does Moreno compare to Flanagan, Cissokho and Enrique on dribbling? As luck would have it, both the Sevilla man and the Liverpool trio completed thirty-two take-ons in 2013/14. As the location information for this is rare, I’ve included the other players I have data for, just out of interest, and the players are sorted by frequency of completed dribbles.
This is very interesting, as he completes a similar proportion of take-ons in the final third as the midfielders do, and is more frequent with his successful take-ons than the current Reds are. This is the kind of thing that I will monitor closely should Moreno join Liverpool, to see if the trend can be maintained.
You wouldn’t expect many in or in-front of the box from a left back, but similar to the other stats (can you sense a theme yet?), we can see that on average Moreno beats a man nearer to the opposition goal than the Liverpool left backs he would be replacing did on average.
Moreno chipped in with three goals last season, but was that more luck than judgment?
My main concern with Moreno is currently his shooting. He may have scored three goals to the Liverpool trio’s one (though it was a beauty from Flanno!) but both put four shots on target in total, with Moreno having nineteen off target or blocked compared to the Reds’ eleven.
Was Moreno lucky to score three from only four on target, or unfortunate to put so many shots off target? It’s impossible for me to say, so I guess the best I can say at this point is that he is basically at the same level as the existing left back options at Anfield. It should also be noted that two of his three goals came during his appearances in midfield, so it would probably be wrong to expect too many goals from him if he plays exclusively at left-back for Liverpool.
A lot of his shots were blocked close to source, so hopefully experience will lead to better decision-making with regards to when and when not to shoot. As an aside, this is my main issue with highlights reels such as this one below. Yes the goals look impressive, but you don’t get to see the 83% of his shots that failed to trouble the goalkeeper.
How did the young Spaniard fare creatively in 2013/14? You may need to refer back to the pitch map above to understand the abbreviations…
I included all three Liverpool players as I have done throughout this article, but based on Premier League average conversion rates, Moreno was the only individual to rack up at least one expected assist. Jose Enrique probably benefits from having a small sample here, but Luis Suárez was the only player in the Reds’ squad to create an open play chance in the centre of the box more often than him this season, so Moreno may have to up his game a little here.
To finish a quick look at the defensive error tallies (which I recently covered in-depth for Liverpool here). The small samples involved mean that it’s hard to conclude anything much from these, but Moreno looks no worse than Liverpool’s current options at least.
So there we are. Statistically Moreno looks a good player, and capable of intercepting a pass and beating a man higher up the pitch than Liverpool’s left back options from last season can overall. Pretty ideal for a Rodgers team if you ask me…
Update: 12th August 2014
Whilst researching an article on Javier Manquillo, I noticed that he was very good at blocking crosses. This point became more pertinent when Brendan Rodgers mentioned this after Liverpool’s 4-0 friendly win over Borussia Dortmund:
“(Manquillo) is the type of full-back I like; he gets tight to people, stops crosses coming in and has the energy to get forward.”
As the Reds’ manager had stated in public what he looks for in a full-back, I thought it’d be interesting to see if Liverpool’s other transfer targets this summer, including Alberto Moreno, were also good at preventing opposition crosses, and it turns out that they are:
As Liverpool have sealed the Moreno deal, it appears that Rodgers is a man of his word; blocking crosses is a skill he looks for, and as the above figures show, the current Liverpool full backs aren’t as good as the new signings in that regard.
Welcome to Liverpool, Alberto.