The performances of Diego Poyet late into the last season in a struggling Charlton side drew a lot of admirers. The Spanish-born midfielder, son of former Uruguayan international and current Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, is eligible to represent either England or Uruguay. He was named the Addicks’ Player as well as the Young Player of the Year last season despite featuring in just 20 games all season. The 19-year-old midfielder, who made his professional debut in January 2014, in an FA Cup game, moved to Upton Park on the expiry of his contract with Charlton, following an agreement between the two clubs regarding the compensation fee.
The youngster showed a great ability to run the show operating as a deep-lying midfielder while at Charlton. He completed 83% of his attempted passes, often dictating the tempo of the game. The player’s accuracy in terms of general passes stood close to 90%. He likes to spray long balls too, and averaged 6 long balls per 90 minutes at an accuracy of 78%, which is a good estimate of his prolific passing ability.
The youngster has built a reputation for himself as a tackler. He averaged close to 6 tackles every 90 minutes, winning 55% of his battles on the ground. That kind of frequency as well efficiency, supplemented by his ability to make clean tackles had the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham lining up for him. The player also showed considerable skill in the air last season. He won close to 50% of his aerial duels, entering into 3 of them every 90 minutes, which, yet again is a very impressive figure. On the whole, the West Ham man won a very impressive 56% of his duels throughout the last season. He has shown a great ability to act as a shield to the defence and these qualities could come good for the Hammers in the coming season.
The player made 5 defensive contributions per 90 minutes last season and was often breaking play with his defensive abilities. One of the key strengths Poyet that emerged last season was his knack for making interceptions. The teenager made 2.5 interceptions per 90 minutes, reading the opposition’s play and getting into crucial spaces to cut off the supply. He made close to 2.5 clearances per 90 minutes and made more than 0.50 blocks per 90 minutes. While he did make 2 defensive errors, one of which led to a goal, at 19 years of age he is still a work in progress and would grow with experience.
Operating as a shield to the back four, the midfielder made a restricted direct contribution in attack, making 0.80 key passes every 90 minutes and recording just 1 shot on target. He did not record any assists, nor did he score any goals through the season. For someone who has built a reputation as a player who likes to have a go from a distance, he recorded just 4 shots through the 20 games. Though West Ham fans will be delighted if he continues where he left off at Charlton, he will need to up his contribution in the final third if he is looking to join the elite league housed by the likes of the Alonso and Schweinsteiger today.
At first look it is very hard to believe that these are the numbers of a 19-year-old midfielder in the first 20 matches of his professional career, such is the promise that Poyet holds as a deep-lying midfielder. The real test for him begins now as he has to prove that those performances were not a one season wonder and he can be consistent in even tougher conditions. The footballing world will be watching if the junior Poyet can make the big step up. With Alex Song joining the squad on a season long loan, the youngster has to fight it out with a proven defensive midfielder, which in itself would be a great learning for him.
His defensive abilities coupled with his impressive passing accuracy and vision would serve any team in a good stead and West Ham would be glad they could lay their hands on a player who has the ingredients to turn into a great deep-lying midfielder. The youngster took the chance that came his way at Charlton and will not be shy the second time around at Upton Park. Should he continue to break up the opposition attacks and act as a launchpad his own team, with such frenetic efficiency, the day is not far when Hodgson and Tabarez play tug-of-war to secure his services.