Gerardo Arteaga is a 21-year-old Mexican international who plays as a left-back for Santos Laguna in the LigaMX. He possesses both the Mexican and Spanish nationality. He has already played 106 matches for Santos Laguna and has played 5 matches for the Mexican national team. He is 174cm and has a contract that expires on 30-06-2023. Most of these international games were played in 2018, and he has only played once for the national team of Mexico in 2019.
Santos Laguna either play in a 4-4-2 formation or 4-3-3 formation. They like to play a medium-high defensive line and put pressure immediately when they lose possession. Santos Laguna build it out from the back patiently often, but are also able to play more direct. The full-backs are licensed to make overlapping runs and to be very attacking-minded, especially in the defensive area, in which they often leave the defensive line to put pressure higher up the pitch.
During the times that Santos Laguna build it out from the back patiently, he always positions himself quite high up the pitch, but drops deeper when Dória, the left central defender in this match, is in possession. When he receives the ball, he takes a touch forward and likes to link-up with the left winger which means that he passes it to the left winger and immediately makes an underlapping or overlapping run. In reality, he does not get the ball back often from the left-winger when he makes a run, but he does create space for the left winger to cut inside when he makes an overlapping run. When he does not immediately make an underlapping or overlapping run, he stays back and often receives the ball back before passing it backwards to the left central defender.
Most of Arteaga’s progressive passes come from the passes to the left winger (a pass needs to be at least 10m forward on the opposition half or 30m forward when the pass starts on the own half). The 21-year-old plays 7,55 progressive passes per 90 minutes and has an accuracy of 80,52%. Nearly every pass towards the left winger gets completed because of his good passing technique and feeling on the ball.
When Santos Laguna have possession in midfield, Gerardo Arteaga often positions himself in the same positions as where he positions himself when the central defenders are on the ball. He is in space quite often and receives a lot of long passes from the right central midfielder. Arteaga has a very good first touch, especially with these long passes. When the pass is not accurate, he can use quick feints before he receives the ball to wrong-foot the opponent and using his good first touch to get away from the defender immediately.
During the moments that Santos Laguna advance higher up the pitch, Gerardo Arteaga either makes an overlapping run or stays backwards to support the defence for when the ball gets lost which prevents the opponents from having space on Arteaga’s wing. However, when he makes an overlapping run, he often times it well and he can get into space well. For example, he would start running into space when the left central defender plays a powerful pass towards the left winger, who would then be able to play a first time pass into space towards Arteaga.
His teammates could find him more often than they do. Arteaga only gives 1,92 crosses per 90 minutes. It can be seen that there are not any patterns in the attack which you can see at for example Ajax or AZ. He gets the ball into good positions, but no-one gets to the end of it, which explains his accuracy of 29,41%. With his technique, I’m sure that he would improve this at these teams.
Gerardo Arteaga always makes an overlapping run or positions himself close to the sideline to support the attack whenever the left winger, in this case Brian Lozano, plays in the halfspaces and has possession in the final third. With these overlapping runs, he creates space for the left winger to cut inside and against Monterrey, this led to a goal of Brian Lozano, as his opponent thought he was going to play a through pass to Arteaga, who made an overlapping run. However, he cut inside and shot in the far corner.
When he does not get the ball in these situations, he moves backwards to support the defence for the situations in which Santos Laguna would lose the ball and the opponent could start a counter-attack. This prevents the opponent from being dangerous and having a lot of space on the right wing in the situations that Santos Laguna would lose the ball. Occasionally, he plays a pass with his right foot towards the left central midfielder. Arteaga is very good on the ball with both feet and comfortable in the tight spaces. Also, he sometimes likes to carry the ball inside to eventually pass the ball backwards or sideways.
An example of this being very effective and useful could be seen moments after, when Santos Laguna lost the ball in the center of the pitch after Diego Valdés and Julio Furch had miscommunication. Gerardo Arteaga is back on time because he was already moving backwards as he did not receive the pass. The Mexican left-back positions himself well as he keeps close to both opponents in the image down below. After the pass is being played towards Steven Pabon, he already was back in the defensive line and prevented Monterrey from having space on the right-wing as you can see in the second image.
When the ball is on the right side of the pitch in the attacking area, Gerardo Arteaga moves centrally to being able to battle for the loose ball when the opponent would clear the cross. This is very important in the first phase of putting pressure, as it allows Arteaga to recover possession quickly and it prevents Monterrey from being able to be dangerous in the counter-attack down the middle.
Gerardo Arteaga is very good on the ball and is capable of linking up with his teammates in the tight spaces. This means that he does not panic when he gets put under pressure. He has a very good passing technique, which allows him to play accurate passes and to play out of pressure. The Mexican international also likes to carry the ball inside and use his excellent dribbling ability to play out of pressure. There are moments where is able to get past a few opponents before passing it to his teammates, and he hardly ever loses the ball when he attempts a dribble. Also, when he gets put under pressure and receives the ball, he always has a good first touch.
Santos Laguna like to put pressure on their opponent and play a middle-high defensive line, while both full-backs often leave the defensive line to close the gap towards their direct opponent down. This requires good anticipation and smartness of both full-backs and Arteaga possesses these qualities. He chooses the right moments to put pressure on the opponent and does not put pressure on the opponent no matter what. He hardly ever gets into trouble because he puts pressure on his opponent.
When the ball moves to the right side of the pitch in the defensive third, Arteaga moves towards the winger and closes the gap to not allow the winger any time on the ball. He is able to react quickly to possible runs in behind from his opponent and has the acceleration and reaction speed to keep up with his opponent. In the images down below, you can see that he positions himself well when playing with a high defensive line and that he closes down the gap to his opponent when the ball moves to the right.
Especially the first point is very important when playing a high defensive line. The left-back needs to anticipate well and being able to recover possession early, without blindly putting pressure and making the wrong decisions.
When the opponents are building it out from the back patiently and have possession in midfield, Arteaga often stays in the defensive line, close to the left central defender. In these situations, Santos Laguna allow the opponent to have possession and they drop a little bit deeper than normally. Whenever the pass gets played towards the right winger, Arteaga will close down the gap. This opens up a gap on the right side of the pitch for the opponent, but the left central midfielder is tasked to cover the run, while the left central defender often closes the gap as well.
As already mentioned before, Arteaga is quite smart in putting pressure on the opponent and does not blindly put pressure on his opponent. He scans well and likes to cut the passing lanes rather than closing down his opponent when Santos Laguna lose the ball on the left side of the pitch.
When the left central defender leaves his position, Gerardo Arteaga does very well to cover the center of the pitch and anticipate on a ball being headed through by the striker. This makes sure that he does not get surprised and that he is being able to recover possession whenever the ball gets headed through. Also, when the ball is on the left side of the pitch, he does well to stay narrow and track his opponent well. In the image down below, Vincent Janssen is through on goal and has a passing option next to him, but Arteaga uses his good acceleration to cut the passing lane and Janssen shoots the ball wide himself.
In the 1v1 duels with the winger near his own box, he forces his opponent to go wide by closing the inside. This good starting position allows Arteaga to use his reaction speed, acceleration and tackling ability to block the cross or prevent the opponent from being dangerous. When he gets into a defensive duel far away from his own box, he often follows his opponent around and forces the winger to go backwards. He has a good timing in his interception as he keeps calm and collected in the duels while looking at the ball. He wins 62,4% of his 7,3 defensive duels per 90 minutes.
Arteaga occasionally, mostly in the second half when he is more tired, anticipates wrongly which gets him wrong-footed as he closes down the gap, but is too late which allows the opponent to make a move in the opposite way. This is something to keep an eye out for, and could be an indication that he either needs to improve his stamina or concentration. However, as he keeps running down the wing for 90 minutes, it does not seem to be his stamina. He often gets yellow cards in the last minutes of the game, which could also be an indication of concentration loss.
The 21-year-old Mexican has good bursts of speed and can keep up with his pace in longer distances as well. He has a slim build and is only 174cm, but despite that he wins a lot of aerial duels as he seems to be able to time his jump very well and to be jumping quite high. In the physical duels, it can be seen that he has a slim build but he holds his own very well and does well to keep balanced often. He has a high work rate but occasionally could track back quicker, even when he sees that his position gets covered.
The Mexican international is definitely ready to play at a higher level. I think he would suit very well in a technical league like the Dutch league, and having the Spanish nationality increases his chances of being able to move to the Eredivisie. He would be a good signing for the elite teams in The Netherlands and I think that these teams would have to pay around €7.000.000. He could be a good upgrade at left-back for PSV, while he could be a replacement for Wijndal as well, even though he is not as good as Wijndal.