Liverpool FC have just confirmed that they have agreed a deal in principle with Celta Vigo which will lead to Iago Aspas becoming Brendan Rodgers’ second summer signing of 2013, for a fee thought to be in the region of £8m, following the arrival of Kolo Toure from Manchester City.
The Spaniard is known for his tenacity and flair, much like Luis Suarez, and has the ability to play across the forward line. His best position is thought to be just behind the striker, in the number 10 role, but he is equally adept at playing on the right side of a front three.
He is uncapped by Spain at every level and though his only piece of silverware is the Spanish Second Division, he finished at the top of the scorer’s chart, while collecting the award for the league’s best forward.
In the season just passed, he helped keep Celta Vigo alive at the bottom of La Liga with dozens of superb performances that led the Liverpool scout’s eyes toward him. In the final game of the season – last weekend – he danced through Espanyol’s defence to assist Natxo Insa in scoring Celta’s only goal and keeping them in La Liga for another season.
He has been mentioned as the direct replacement for Luis Suarez, should the Uruguayan leave for Real Madrid this summer. I wouldn’t say this is entirely true as Suarez has been the main goal threat at Liverpool for the past couple of years and I have enough belief in Rodgers that he wouldn’t replace his 30-goal superstar for a relatively unknown Spaniard for a tiny fraction of the income from Suarez’s potential sale.
Despite this, it would be beneficial to compare the two players to see what Aspas could bring to Liverpool once Suarez has left the club – if he does, indeed, leave.
Firstly, it would be worth taking a look at Aspas’ scoring record throughout his career. In 235 games for Celta, he has scored 61 goals. However, he has scored 37 goals in his last 75 appearances, in all competitions. An impressive haul despite 23 of them coming in the Segunda División.
12 goals in 33 La Liga games for a relegation-threatened side is a decent return, however. Michu and Arouna Kone both scored 15 goals in the season before last and have performed to a decent standard since their arrival in England.
Last season, Liverpool’s average shot accuracy was 47%. Iago Aspas averaged 57% which is higher than Suarez’s 54%. Impressive.
If Aspas can score 10-15 goals and assist 8-12 from the wide right position of either a front three or a trio of attacking midfielders behind the main forward then I’m sure every Liverpool fan will be pleased.
Flip the coin and you’ll find Suarez has scored 190 in 327 appearances in his career, while assisting 69 goals. For Liverpool, he has scored 51 goals in 96 matches, which is a strike rate of 0.53 goals per game. He scored 23 Premier League goals last season.
Suarez is a much more accomplished forward so his scoring record was obviously going to be better than that of Aspas.
While researching Aspas’ figures I was shocked to find that he’d created more chances in La Liga than both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Aspas created a total of 69 goalscoring opportunities, compared to Ronaldo’s 62 and Messi’s 45. However, this is another area that Suarez is outstanding in; he created an impressive 90 goalscoring chances last season.
Aspas isn’t far behind but that’s an impressive haul from Suarez. The Uruguayan was 6th on the list of ‘creators’ in the Premier League last season. Baines tops the charts with 116, while Steven Gerrard is sitting in 5th with 94 chances created.
To compare last season’s Suarez statistics to Aspas’ would be too top-heavy in Suarez’s favour so I’ll compare Suarez’s first full season in English football and Aspas’ 2012/13 season as they are very even.
Suarez scored 11 goals, compared to Aspas’ 12, but the former’s minutes per goal was slightly better at 232 than the latter’s 235. A marginal difference.
Again, Suarez edges Aspas out in the ‘minutes per’ column; this time for shots: Suarez with a shot every 24 minutes compared to Aspas’ similarly impressive 28.
Aspas then edges out Suarez in five of the final six columns (in the featured image above), showing his excellent creative ability.
Now, the Suarez of last season was an enormous improvement on the season before, beating Aspas in all but two columns – Assists and Dispossessed (mins) – showing what a huge loss he could be to the Liverpool side. He is the creative fulcrum of Brendan Rodgers’ side and the man whom the club rely on heavily to score the goals.
The arrivals of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge did alleviate the pressure on Suarez, however it seems they may now take over Suarez’s role in Liverpool’s attacking line.
Aspas will go some way to cushion the blow of losing Suarez as his creative stats prove but it is the goalscoring aspect that Liverpool will miss should he leave.
Rodgers will need to address the lack of goalscorers at the club if Suarez leaves as it seems that Aspas is not the man to replace Suarez’s tally of goals.
However, if he can match the last £8 million signing Rodgers made then no one will be complaining about Iago Aspas.
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