Pablo Osvaldo has made a £15 million move to St Mary’s from Serie A side AS Roma. Although jokes are flying around about his move to Southampton and his resemblance to Johnny Depp, the South Coast side means business in their acquisitions this summer, with Osvaldo joining Victor Wanyama and Dejan Lovren in their summer spending spree.
Osvaldo previously played under Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino at Espanyol, where the Italian played some of the best football of his career. During Pochettino’s managerial stint in La Liga for Espanyol, Osvaldo scored 20 goals in 44 league appearances before moving to AS Roma in 2011.
After an impressive opening day victory against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, it seems Pochettino feels his squad can still be improved on, especially in the attacking third.
Pochettino’s persuasive powers seems to have lured the Italian international to St Mary’s, but how does the former Espanyol and Roma striker compare to current Southampton strikers Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez?
In 35 Premier League appearances, Lambert scored 15 goals – joint with Frank Lampard for the most goals scored by an Englishman in the Premier League last season. Jay Rodriguez, while also having an impressive campaign for Southampton, only netted 6 goals in 24 Premier League starts, albeit playing as a left-winger at times. Like Rodriguez, Pablo Osvaldo can also play as an attacking left-winger, but is primarily a striker. In last year’s Serie A campaign, Osvaldo scored 16 goals (of which five were headers) in 25 Serie A appearances.
Osvaldo and Lambert seem to be the most incisive in goal out of the three, in terms of clear-cut chance conversion. Lambert heads the conversion rate of the three players, (56%), interestingly, Rodriguez has a better clear-cut conversion rate (46%) than Osvaldo (40%). Although, in terms of shooting accuracy, Osvaldo falls short of Lambert and Rodriguez, (53%) and (46%) compared to Osvaldo’s (44%).
In terms of chance conversion, Lambert converted 19% of his chances, Osvaldo 16% and Rodriguez just 9%.
In terms of minutes per goal, Osvaldo tops that particular statistic over his new Southampton teammates, with a goal every 144 minutes compared to Lambert (209) and Rodriguez (363).
One trait that is important for Pochettino’s high pressing side is the ability to win possession high up the field, while Lambert and Rodriguez both won possession 17 times and 16 times during the course of the season, Osvaldo averaged only 11 times per possession won. If the Italian were to stake a claim in the Southampton side, ideally Pochettino would like him to press the ball more.
The newly capped England striker, Rickie Lambert, had an all round brilliant season in 2012/2013 – with 15 goals and 5 assists. While Rodriguez couldn’t keep up with Lambert’s goals, he was more than adequate in the creativity department, also bagging 5 assists. Osvaldo, on the other hand, contributed only 2 assists to his team last campaign.
Dribbling with the ball seems to be a more comfortable trait with Rodriguez and Osvaldo compared to Lambert, Lambert totalled 15 dribbles, with only 9 being successful – whereas Rodriguez attempted 70 dribbles, with 30 of those being successful, while Osvaldo attempted 79 dribbles, 26 were successful.
If Osvaldo can adapt to the pace change from Serie A to the Premier League, the Italian will improve the attacking third of the Southampton side with six players that Pochettino can choose from – Lambert, Osvaldo, Ramirez, Lallana, Puncheon and Rodriguez. Not bad that, not bad at all. A top ten finish is on the cards.
Osvaldo stats taken from WhoScored.