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Review on Leandro Damiao, Carlos Vela, Victor Moses


26 Aug 2013 14:24:10
I was asked to review Damiao and Vela and with the recent speculation regarding Moses, and all the negativity about him, I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring as well.

I'll start with Damiao. He is different to previous players I've reviewed, as he is more of an out and out striker, rather than just a forward. Being a striker is very different to any other position on the pitch. In fact, the most comparable position is centre as they are the two positions on the pitch I think mainly rely on experience. There is of course raw talent, but these players rarely peak until they are in their late 20's and sometimes their early 30's. I'll look at his record in the last 3 years, as anything prior to that would be unfair to judge him on. It is very rare you see a striker turn up at 16 and do a 'Michael Owen/Wayne Rooney'. Damiao is currently 24 years old, so will improve a fair bit should he hit some decent form. These are Damiao's stats for his last 3 full seasons and the start of this one:
-2010/11, 41 appearances, 15 goals, 2 assists, 75 shots, 20% conversion rate
-2011/12, 52 appearances, 35 goals, 9 assists, 146 shots, 24% conversion rate
-2012/13, 39 appearances, 18 goals, 5 assists, 105 shots, 17% conversion rate
-2013/14, 7 appearances, 3 goals, 2 assists, 20 shots, 15% conversion rate
As you can see he appears to have been on a steep downward curve since he peaked in 2011. I would suggest this is probably just a loss of form, as he hasn't become completely ineffective. He takes up very good positions in the box though. Some would say it's all about getting your shots away as a striker and then the goals will come. He is very good on the ball and has a great first touch, and as demonstrated by his assists record, he does bring others into the game quite well. In terms of what he brings to the side, he is dangerous around the box, and even when he's off form, he's one of those guys, who could just crop up with a tap in from a scramble, or produce something special. I rate him very highly, and he would be worth the £25m I think he would cost, but not to Liverpool. Putting him out wide would be as bad as Rafas decision to put Kuyt out wide when he was signed as one of the best strikers in the Eredivisie. Damiao would likely get you goals from anywhere, but he is not creative enough to be deployed in a creative role, and his goal scoring prowess would be wasted. Therefore, he'd need to play as the lone striker in our system. So what do you do with Sturridge who is arguably one of the best strikers in the league? Can we justify spending £25m on a squad player, especially when we still have Aspas, Borini, Yesil and possibly Suarez all capable of covering for Sturridge? As well as this, what are the odds that he will make the step up from a second rate Brazilian league, into one of the fastest paced leagues in the world? Lucas recently said that the reason Rafa switched him to a defensive role is because he couldn't cope with the pace of attacks in the Premier League. Many people don't know, but Lucas won the young player of the season award the year before we bought him, playing as an attacking midfielder. He was versatile and hard-working enough to change position and become one of the best, but Damiao is not realistically going to become a more defensive player. For me, I wouldn't buy him. He just isn't what we need. Last summer before Sturridge, I'd have said go for it, but not now unfortunately.

Next in line is Carlos Vela. You may remember him from his time at Arsenal, and if you do you are probably considering skipping this entire review! I know, he was absolutely, unbelievably average. I will be fair though, and like Damiao, only judge him on his most recent 3 full seasons. He is a little more versatile than Damiao, but mainly shines down the centre. Here are his statistics:
-2010/11, 32 appearances, 8 goals, 2 assists, 42 shots, 19% conversion rate
-2011/12, 37 appearances, 12 goals, 7 assists, 81 shots, 14% conversion rate
-2012/13, 36 appearances, 14 goals, 9 assists, 102 shots, 14% conversion rate
-2013/14, 2 appearances, 2 goals, 1 assists, 7 shots, 29% conversion rate
Its clear to see he has improved greatly from the player we once saw playing for Arsenal. He is a much more rounded striker now, and does create problems for the opposition. He can be fairly creative, and bear in mind he is in a league far superior to the Damiao plays in. He has started this season with a bang, and at 24 he is still a few seasons off the usual age for a striker to peak. I do like Vela as a player. He is quick, and likes to run with the ball. He is also fairly versatile as he can play the wide forward roles quite well, but I just feel he does more damage in the middle. For too many years, we have signed people who can do a job in one position, but are best in another, only to play them in their second choice role. One of his strongest attributes is his one on one capabilities with both defender and keeper. He can take it round players very well, and is quite composed now. Vela may have found his level though. La Liga is far less physical than the Premier League, and attacking is more open and fluid due to defences holding such high lines (making his pace a great weapon). Some teams in England will just sit in their own 18 yard box and do nothing for 90 minutes. Do I think he would be good for us? If the price was right (say £10m) then yes, I think he'd be a good squad player. I have no idea what his club would ask for though, and think there are better options, and more suitable players for what we want.

Last, I thought I'd give my views on Victor Moses. He seems to be getting a lot of stick on here. I'm not entirely sure why to be honest. He is 22 years old, and here is his record:
-2012/13, 49 appearances, 12 goals, 9 assists.
-2011/12, 46 appearances, 8 goals, 7 assists.
-2010/11, 28 appearances, 2 goals, 3 assists.
His career before then was predominantly in the Championship (excluding half a season with Wigan). When looking at these stats, bear in mind, this guy was only 19 years old in the earliest season I've presented and registered a similar return to Sterling last year, despite Sterling being in a better team (Sterling was only 17/18 last year though). We all have faith in Sterling to go to the top though. You have to look at this record and consider the factors against him. He is a young attacker who played in a very poor Wigan team for 2 and a half years, and stood out from the rest despite his tender years. He then went to Chelsea and was subbed on 16 times and subbed off 18 times. That's means out of his 49 games, he only got 90 minutes on 15 occasions. With 12 goals and 9 assists, he's really not that bad. The season before last (his last for Wigan), I have a vague memory that he completed more successful dribbles than any other player in the league (yes, including Suarez!). He is a very fast and powerful runner on the ball, not too dissimilar to the way Bale carries himself. Whilst he may be slightly slower, he has far greater balance, and doesn't get knocked off easily. He has very tricky feet, and good close control. As a product of the recently famed Crystal Palace academy, he was widely regarded as the next big thing in his teens. Palace were certainly loathe to lose such a good talent. He is good with both feet and his head, and despite not being very fancy, he is effective. He creates chances, and claims a lot of goals and assists for a young wide player. A 22 year old striker would be proud of 12 goals in a single year, playing as a bit part player, let alone a young winger. In our system, he would be deployed in the wide left forward role, which is where he played for Palace, Wigan and Chelsea. He has the attributes to excel here. If we can pick him up for £10m or less, it's great business. Don't forget, Sturridge, Toure and Coutinho are so called 'cast-offs'. He at least deserves a chance. I just hope that if it's a loan, there is an iron clad clause to buy at the end of it. As I'd hate to think we were just grooming a top young player for Chelsea. My only fault in any potential deal, is that he opted to play for Nigeria, not England. Therefore, he would go missing in January every so often to play in the African Cup of Nations. Were he to go on and become a key player for us, we could miss him in that period. However every cloud has a silver lining. As he has chosen to play for Nigeria, he will rarely, if ever be involved in summer competitions as they do not often Qualify for the World Cup, and aren't part of the European Championship/Copa America at all. This means he would likely never miss pre-season for us, unlike most top European/South American Players. He may not even be a target, but my point here, is don't be so quick to judge. Given a full season as a starting 11 player, he could be brilliant.

Thank you, and I hope it was a good read.


Enter your comments

26 August 2013
Excellent analysis, especially on Moses, who seems to be heavily linked with the reds. Totally agree with your "don't be so quick to judge" shout. Do LFC fans not learn from their previous criticism of players.