Wilson Palacios arrived at Stoke City on the 31st August 2011 and has started only nine Premier League games in just over 15 months.
The £6 million pound man brought with him expectation, excitement and above all hope that the central midfield area may finally have found an enforcer worthy of the world’s best league.
Sadly his time in the Potteries has been a strange period to say the least, epitomised by the manager claiming that he could not play if the condition were “too windy”. Possibly the most bizarre statement ever made by a manager about one of his players.
Palacios originally caught the eye when playing under Steve Bruce at Wigan where he made 37 appearances. Harry Redknapp was a keen admirer of the Honduran and paid £12 million to take him to White Hart Lane in 2009. After two seasons in the capital Palacios was deemed as surplus to requirements and left for Stoke in the summer of 2011 after a prolonged spell of heavy transfer speculation.
The signing was met with great anticipation by the Stoke City supporters, however it appeared that Palacios had a knee injury when he joined the club and after missing out on pre-season, the Britannia faithful were left disappointed to not see more of their newest acquisition.
Tony Pulis was adamant that with a full pre-season under his belt Wilson Palacios would finally become the figure in midfield that the City fans hag longed for. All seemed to be going well; Palacios started the majority of pre-season friendlies and looked set to be a mainstay in the centre of the park. How wrong can you be?
Palacios has yet to feature in the starting XI in the 2012/13 season whilst seemingly being fit, having taken his place on the bench. So just why has he not been part of the managers plans? Here is a look at his statistics from his first season at Stoke City, and how he compared to their other centre midfield options in the 2011/12 campaign:
Glen Whelan racked up the most minutes in Stoke City’s centre midfield. Dean Whitehead was a close second, whilst Rory Delap saw his game time slashed with over 800 minutes less than the other two candidates. Wilson Palacios played just 800 minutes over the course of the season, with just nine starts.
Given the fact that Palacios was deemed to be fragile, certainly by Tony Pulis, it would not be reflected in his play. Stoke’s most underplayed central midfielder contested possession more frequently than any of his team mates in the same position.
Wilson Palacios also attempted a tackle more frequently than his competitors. There is little to separate Delap, Whitehead and Whelan here, which makes Palacios stand out even more, attempting a tackle once more every 11 minutes than the next best.
This statistic in particular is in favour of the Honduran. Palacios was more than twice as efficient in possession as Glen Whelan who incidentally was the most utilised CM. If you compare Palacios to Delap and Whitehead then he looks even more impressive.
Yet another tick in the box of Wilson Palacios. Unsurprising considering the problems Stoke had in the centre of the pitch prior to his arrival (and indeed afterwards). What is surprising however is that Dean Whitehead was more accurate in his passing than Glen Whelan, all be it be the slimmest of margins.
The lack of creativity in the final third has been a major problem for Stoke since their promotion. With this is mind it is essential that the CM’s are able to use possession effectively in the attacking third. Palacios again out performs his comrades in this department. Again unsurprising.
Why the exile?
If you consider the FACTS it is hard to see why Palacios has been repeatedly ignored. It has been clear in some of his performances, especially on the rare occasion he has started, that he is not “Stoke fit” whatever that means. However in the games he has played, his influence is undeniable and the complete and utter ignorance to his existence is not healthy to either the player or the squad.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.