Last week, West Brom completed the signing of Uruguay captain Diego Lugano on a free transfer from French champions Paris St. Germain. In terms of purely name value, this is a big signing for Albion. Lugano comes with a fantastic pedigree and a very decent reputation. However, the signing of the centre back has been questioned in some quarters, with suggestions that the Uruguayan is “past it” and is a poor signing, especially as he will be on decent money.
So how does West Brom’s latest defensive addition’s stats compare to those of the current first choice CBs, Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley? Do the stats suggest that Lugano will be nothing more than back-up, or will he soon be taking the place of one of the aforementioned?
Last season, Lugano was sent out to Malaga on loan and what was alarming was the low number of games he featured in. The Uruguayan international made only 10 starts for the Spanish side, with one appearance off the bench, having suffered from a few injuries last season. This record is poor compared to McAuley and Olsson’s, who both played 36 times last season. This can’t really be blamed on age, as McAuley is the same age as Albion’s new signing.
In his limited number of appearances for Malaga last season, Lugano averaged 1.9 interceptions per match which compares favourably to the records of McAuley and Olsson. Northern Ireland international McAuley made a total of 38 interceptions at an average of 1.1 per game, while Olsson made only 29 interceptions in his 36 games, meaning an average of 0.8 interception per match. Lugano made a total of 21 interceptions, only 8 less than Olsson despite playing 25 fewer games.
Lugano has better tackling statistics than Jonas Olsson. The Swedish international attempted 29 tackles in his 36 games, averaging 0.8 tackles per game. Gareth McAuley attempted more tackles than Olsson, with 37 tackles attempted compared to the 29 of Olsson. McAuley made 37 attempted tackles, leaving him with an average of just over 1 tackle per game. Lugano on the other hand, in his admittedly limited sample size, averaged 1.1 tackles per game, giving him a clear advantage over Olsson and a slightly better ratio than last season’s player of the year at West Brom, McAuley.
So far, Lugano has compared favourably to Olsson and McAuley. However, the amount of times Lugano has been dribbled past is one area of weakness, suggesting that a lack of pace is beginning to catch up with him. Olsson was dribbled past only 8 times in his 36 games for West Brom, while McAuley was rounded 11 times in his appearances. Lugano was dribbled around 6 times in only 11 La Liga games, so if you were to multiply his number of games to somewhere near the amount played by Olsson and McAuley, Lugano would have been beaten by an opposition player far more times.
This is an area of concern for a few West Brom fans, with it being suggested the Baggies could have done with an introduction of some pace to a back 4 that already contains many “steady” performers.
As well as his defensive attributes, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the passing ability of Lugano compared to McAuley and Olsson, as Steve Clarke’s tenure has seen the centre backs using the ball a bit more than they did under Roy Hodgson. Again, the statistics show that Lugano is very similar to Olsson and McAuley in this field. The Northern Irishman has the best pass completion rate, 81%, with Olsson coming in 2nd at 79% and Lugano third with a 77.3% completion rate.
Overall, the statistics seem to show that in Lugano, West Brom are adding more of the same to their defensive ranks. Lugano isn’t exactly blessed with pace, but his tackling and interceptions rate suggest that like McAuley and Olsson, he is blessed with good positioning and understanding of the game which will have come through years of experience at the very highest level.
Lugano Stats via WhoScored.com