Player Spotlight: Selling High on Gonçalo Guedes

From Kylian Mbappé to Timothy Yeah, Paris Saint-Germain has a plethora of young offensive talent within their ranks. However, one name that often gets lost in the shuffle is Gonçalo Guedes. After the arrivals of Neymar Jr. and Mbappé last summer, it became clear that Guedes wouldn’t receive significant playing time and as a result, the 21-year-old spent his 2017-18 season on loan with Valencia. The Portuguese international shined and in 33 appearances, he racked up five goals and nine assists.

With the La Liga side, Guedes saw a significant amount of time in the midfield. Dominating the left-side of the pitch, he displayed amazing dribbling ability and creativity. The Portuguese starlet often had the ball at his feet, leading Los Che with 4.8 dribbles per 90 minutes; successfully dribbling three per 90, which also led the team. Guedes made the most out of having the ball as well. He was second on the team with 1.8 key passes per 90, which resulted in .3 assists per 90.

Guedes Form While at Valencia

The emergence of Guedes’ creativity allowed for him to finish fifth in La Liga with nine assists. Using data from SofaScore, here’s a construction of a graph that illustrated Guedes’ ability to create. The chart displays how he was in the upper-echelon in creating scoring opportunities when compared to his peers with over 25 appearances. In his first season in Spain, Guedes made a name for himself; his production was similar to the likes of Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio.

Guedes account for 20 percent of Valencia’s 45 total assists, helping the club to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. His breakout season on the creative side is what has turned him into a “one to watch” at this summer’s FIFA World Cup, but his passing ability is one area that could use some improvement.

One of Thomas Tuchel’s tactical philosophies is quick, but precise passing. When translating this over to Guedes, it’s an area of his game that drastically needs to improve. Although he’s one of the best in La Liga at creating chances, his 32.8 total passing per 90 was below average. Also, Guedes took a step back regarding the accuracy of his passes. With SL Benfica, Guedes averaged 25.7 accurate short passes per 90 in 16 appearances, while with Valencia it went down to 24.9 per 90.

This graph constructs the total passes completed, and it coordinates with the accuracy percentage. Guedes finished with a 79 percent passing accuracy, which is below average when compared to his midfield peers. If PSG is keen on keeping him, then he’ll have to make strides in this area for the squad next season.

What’s Next for Guedes?

Guedes played a significant amount of time on the left-side of the pitch with Valencia. Well, in Paris, there’s someone by the name of Neymar who dominates that position. This means that Guedes will have to sit on the bench and fill the “super-sub” role that Angel Di Maria will leave behind when he is likely sold to satisfy Financial Fair Play regulations. After a season where Guedes saw growths in multiple areas of his game, it’s hard to imagine him taking this role.

With the lack of playing time and issues with FFP, PSG might look to sell their Portuguese prodigy. SofaScore values Guedes at €38 million, which is in the neighborhood of the €45 million PSG is reportedly asking Valencia for. If the Spanish club doesn’t meet PSG’s asking price, then it opens the door for other suitors. Newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers are monitoring the situation; Guedes agent, Jorge Mendes, has connections to the club who are improving their squad and remain in the Premier League past next season.

Over a year ago, PSG introduced Guedes after the club purchased him during the winter transfer window. Fast-forward to the summer of 2018, hindsight shows it was a luxury purchase. Nonetheless, the club will make a profit if they sell him and use the money to comply with FFP. They may be wise to wait though. A stellar showing in Russia this summer could see Guedes’ price double.

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Posted by Eduardo

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