FC Famalicão – Recruitment Analysis

FC Famalicão are a Portuguese club that plays in Liga NOS since last season. They surprised everyone in the world including themselves last season, when they were in first place after a few matches in Liga NOS. In the end, they were the favourites to end in fifth place which would get them a place in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. However, after they failed to win against Boavista at home and conceded the equalizer in the last minute against Maritimo, they ended in sixth place which meant that they did not get a ticket for the qualifying rounds of the Europa League.

But how did they manage to do this? It can’t go unnoticed that Famalicão have risen up to Liga NOS from Liga Portugal 2 after Idan Ofer purchased a 51% stake in Famalicão via the Quantum Pacific Group in 2018. He increased this to 85% last season as the project was becoming more interesting over time. The president of Famalicão, Miguel Ribeiro, also has a broad network after his successful spell at Rio Ave, which is also very helpful. Both Miguel Ribeiro and Idan Ofer have good contacts with the influential Jorge Mendes, who has helped Famalicão to get some loans and players on permanent deals which increased the quality of the club.

However, it must be said that Famalicão are a lot more than just Jorge Mendes as they are doing a lot of sensible transfers as well, including the signings of Ivan Jaime from Malaga B and Joaquin Pereyra from Rosario Central. Both were not regular starters for the first team of their respective clubs and they have been great for Famalicão so far.

Looking at the signings of the last two seasons, it can be seen that Famalicão have done a lot of business with Wolves, Atletico Madrid, SL Benfica, Valencia, FC Porto and AS Monaco which are the clubs were Jorge Mendes is influential. Regarding Atletico Madrid, it is known that Idan Ofer owns a 32% stake in Atletico Madrid as well. For the other transfers and loans, it can be seen that Famalicão are scouting in Portugal, the lower leagues or the B-teams in Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Serbia, the lower leagues in England and The Netherlands.

For this piece, I will be looking at The Netherlands (Eredivisie), Portugal (Liga NOS), Spain (LaLiga2) and South America. Famalicão have done a great job in the summer transfer window, which means that it’s hard to find any gaps in the squad. However, I’ve found two positions where Famalicão could sign a player to strengthen the squad.

The current squad looks like this (see image below). There is a gap in defensive midfield and on the right wing. However, Gil Dias can play as a left winger and Fernando Valenzuela as a right winger when Ruben Lameiras is injured or suspended. Still, as Gil Dias has been good as left-back, I think that he should be playing as a left-back this season for Famalicão. Fernando Valenzuela has mainly played as a right winger throughout his career, but he also does very well on the left. It is preferable that both Gil Dias and Fernando Valenzuela can play in their own position when Ruben Lameiras is injured and that there is a backup option for the Portuguese winger.

In other words, I think that it would be wise to sign a backup right winger who has the potential to take over from Lameiras this summer or next summer as I expect him to leave within 1,5 years. However, Valenzuela could definitely take over at right wing when Ruben Lameiras is injured or leaves the club and signing a left winger shouldn’t be ruled out, but he definitely needs to have experience on the right wing as well.

Gustavo Assunção is the captain of Famalicão and will play 90 minutes in every match. However, I think that it would be wise to sign a backup for him for when he would get injured badly, but also someone who could play next to him in a 4-2-3-1, which is the formation that João Pedro Sousa tried out a few times throughout last season as well. The Brazilian just signed a contract extension until 2025 with a buyout clause of €50M, but it is likely that he won’t stay at Famalicão for long given his rapid rise to the top of Liga NOS.

To summarize, I think that it would be viable to sign a backup right winger and defensive midfielder who are both able to take over when their competitor leaves the club.

Playing style of FC Famalicão

João Pedro Sousa usually lets his team play in a 4-1-2-3 formation with a direct approach against the big four, but a more possession-based approach against the weaker sides who often play with a deep block in defence. Gustavo Assunção is the most important player in the build-up for Famalicão. He always opens up passing lanes and forms a triangle with the full-backs and central defenders or central midfielders that often drift out wide in possession. Both wingers would move into the half-space in this situation and this often works well against most teams as both Ivan Jaime and Joaquin Pereyra are capable of beating their opponent in a 1v1 duel, which is something that they’re allowed to do and expected to do.

Against weaker sides, who often play in a deep block but also in a 4-4-2 out of possession, Gustavo Assunção drops deep between the two central defenders to create an overload against the two strikers of the opponent. The full-backs are tasked to push higher up the pitch. Edwin Herrera and Gil Dias are both attacking minded and good in possession. Famalicão have a lot of creators in the team, but less players that are capable of making runs in behind and spotting space. Ruben Lameiras, Fernando Valenzuela, Ivan Jaime and Joaquin Pereyra are all creative players who can play a good through pass, but the problem often is that there are no players that make good runs in behind which means that they’re often restricted to playing one-two’s with each other to create chances or to put in crosses to Dyego Souza, who is a player that mainly scores from crosses.

Most goals thus far have come from corners, mistakes by opponents, individual quality or penalties which is not ideal as Famalicão find it hard to create chances. Bruno Jordão has not been great, but he does possess the ability to make runs in behind and arrive late into the box.

Moving on to how Famalicão set up their defence, they often play in a medium-high defensive line in a 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1 depending on the opponent. They are very disciplined in keeping the lines close to each other and don’t give away a lot of space in midfield. When they lose possession in the final third, they often put pressure on the opponent to recover possession as quickly as possible. However, they also choose to move back into position at times and regroup in the 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1 formation.

Player profiles Famalicão

Defensive midfielder:

The defensive midfielder of Famalicão, currently Gustavo Assunção, is the main player to help Famalicão progress higher up the pitch. He has good off the ball movement and opens up passing lanes for the central defenders at the right time. The defensive midfielder needs to be capable of playing first touch passes and to turn away from his opponent. In other words, it is very important that he is press-resistant and that he is effective in the first phase of the build-up. Defensively, he needs to be good in the defensive duels and disciplined to stay in position when the opponent is controlling possession. Gustavo Assunção sometimes steps out too late, but it would be good if the defensive midfielder of Famalicão would be capable of stepping out of the line at the right time.

Winger

The current right-winger of Famalicão is Ruben Lameiras. He is tasked to tuck inside in possession, but he also stays out wide sometimes to allow the full-back to make an underlapping run. The former situation happens more often though. A winger of Famalicão needs to be a technical winger that has a lot of creativity on the ball. He is capable of dribbling past a few players and has a lot of flair and elegance on the ball. The right-winger of Famalicão needs to have a good sense of positioning and capable of playing through passes, both over the ground and inswinging crosses to the far post. However, it would be very useful as well if the winger would be great at exploiting space in behind. This is something that Lameiras does not have, but as Famalicão lack players that can exploit space in behind, it would be good if the winger could do this. At last, it is important that the winger is disciplined in tracking back.

In general, it is important that the players that I choose have decent physical ability and wouldn’t get bullied off the ball every time. The Liga NOS is quite a physical league. Also, it is important to mention that players that prefer to play on the left, but have played on the right before, are also included in the analysis as Fernando Valenzuela could also move to the right wing when Ruben Lameiras leaves.

Data-analysis

It is hard to tell what financial means Famalicão have and what impact the pandemic has had financially, but I assume that Famalicão can afford players that are worth under €4M / €5M. As we are looking for backups that potentially could take over from either Assunção or Lameiras this or next summer, I think that it would be wise to look at some possible loans as well which could get changed in a permanent deal when either Assunção or Lameiras would leave the club.

I compiled the data from all leagues that I wanted to take into account for this piece, which are:

  • Dutch Eredivisie
  • Portuguese Liga NOS
  • Spanish LaLiga2
  • Brazilian Serie A
  • Brazilian Serie B
  • Argentinian Superliga
  • Chilean Primera Division
  • Colombian Liga Dimayor
  • Ecuadorian Serie A
  • Paraguayan Primera Division
  • Peruvian Liga I
  • Uruguayan Primera Division

All data from the under 23 wingers and defensive midfielders are now in two separate datasets. Now it’s time for the next step, which is excluding all players that Famalicão can’t afford and the players that are not available this winter because of a loan. This allows me to look at all players that Famalicão could possibly afford and sign this winter. Of course, I can be wrong with some of these since I don’t have the exact knowledge of how much certain players are worth.

Defensive midfield

For this position, stats were significantly less important than for the search for a right-winger. Gustavo Assunção’s main asset is his off the ball movement and efficiency in the first part of the build-up play, which don’t reflect in stats. This means that I was less eager to use stats. However, I still decided to look at passes p/90 vs. forward passes p/90, progressive passes vs. progressive runs and defensive duels won p/90 vs. successful defensive actions to see which players stood out in these aspects.

Having a decent amount of passes assumes that the defensive midfielder is involved in the build-up, while it’s also in some way good to look at the forward passes played because of obvious reasons. Progressive passes vs. progressive runs indicates that the defensive midfielder can help the team to progress further up the pitch and/or carrying the ball forward himself. Defensive duels won per 90 was the most important stat as Gustavo Assunção himself scored very high in this stat. As mentioned in the player profile, it is very important that the defensive midfielder of Famalicão wins a lot of his defensive duels. Also, successful defensive actions can come very in handy for defensive midfielders as well.

After looking at some background information (availability, transfer fee, etc.) I managed to bring back the database to 29 players. Now, it is time to make the scatterplots to see which players stand out in data.

Defensive duels

First, I looked at the number of defensive duels won and successful defensive actions. As a defensive midfielder of Famalicão, it is very important to win the majority of the defensive duels. Gustavo Assunção scores average on the number of defensive duels won, but it must be said that he scores one of the highest on the % of defensive duels won. It was a choice that I needed to make to either choose for defensive duels won in % or compare it to successful defensive actions. I chose for the latter since I think it can say a lot more when you use successful defensive actions and defensive duels won instead of just one stat.

Forward passes

On to the forward passes vs. passes per 90. Now, this is a stat that I don’t normally use. However, I thought that it would be good to see and possibly even get rid of some players. The reason behind this lays in the playing style of Famalicão. The defensive midfielder, Gustavo Assunção, is involved in the build-up a lot and averages near 46 passes per 90 minutes. It would not make a lot of sense to go for someone that only averages 23 passes per 90 minutes as he (very probably) plays in a very different role or isn’t used to being the deep-lying playmaker.

Progressive passes and runs

Then, I looked at how progressive the players are compared to Gustavo Assunção. As you can see, Gustavo Assunção is not the most progressive player, but this doesn’t reflect the full picture of his playing style. He does help Famalicão progress higher up the pitch but he does this mainly by playing short passes and/or first touch passes while also moving between the lines very well. In other words, this stat is not that representative as the defensive duels one (in this piece). However, being a progressive player can mean that the player in question can help Famalicão progress higher up the pitch as well, and that is why this stat is included in the data-analysis.

The score for every scatterplot:

  1. Blank area top right = 4 points
  2. Grey area above and right from the middle grey area = 3 points
  3. Blank area top left and bottom right and the middle grey area = 2 points
  4. Grey area below and left from the middle grey area = 1 point
  5. Blank area bottom left = 0 points

Note: if one to three players really stand out in one or both stats, they will get an extra 0,5 point (e.g. Guzman, Rovira and Rend in the forward passes and Calleros, Ugarte and Madison in the successful defensive actions/defensive duels won one).

The ranking

In the end, all stats and scores combined led to a ranking which you can see down below.

The players that I am going to watch on video:

  1. Robert Mejia – Once Caldas (Colombia)
  2. Guilherme Rend – Vitória (Brazil)
  3. Rhaldney – Náutico (Brazil)
  4. Manuel Ugarte – CA Fénix (Uruguay)
  5. Juan Mancilla – Alianza Petrolera (Colombia)
  6. Orestis Kiomourtzoglou – Heracles Almelo (The Netherlands)
  7. Brayan Rovira – Atlético Nacional (Colombia)
  8. Andres Colorado – Deportivo Cali (Colombia)
  9. Dante Rigo – ADO Den Haag (The Netherlands)
  10. Tomas Alarcón – O’Higgins (Chile)
  11. Godfried Roemeratoe – FC Twente (The Netherlands)

Winger

For the winger position, I think that the data could be used more optimally in this situation to get a ranking of players. The stats that I am going to use are xG per 90 and xA per 90 to see if the player comes into scoring position often and if he can put his teammates into scoring position as well. Looking more in-depth to the creator role, I’m using the shot assists per 90 stat vs. the key passes per 90 stat. According to WyScout, a shot assist is: “the last action of a player prior to a teammate having a shot”, while a key pass is: “a pass that immediately creates a clear goal scoring opportunity for a teammate who in turn fails to score”.

Then, I’m using deep completions per 90 minutes vs. progressive passes per 90 minutes. Deep completion (WyScout): a non-cross pass that is targeted to the zone within 20 meters of the opponent’s goal. The second to last stats that we are going to use are the successful dribbles per 90 minutes vs. progressive runs per 90 minutes. Ruben Lameiras and Fernando Valenzuela are allowed to attempt a lot of dribbles and it can be seen which players of the dataset are also tasked to do this. Both often start their dribbles in the final third, which means that they won’t have that many progressive runs.

The last stat that I am going to use is successful defensive actions per 90 vs. defensive duels won per 90. After looking at availability and other aspects, I could narrow the dataset down to 22 players. Now it’s time to make the scatterplots and make a ranking of all wingers.

Expected goals vs. expected assists per 90

The first scatterplot is about expected goals and expected assist. Ruben Lameiras already scores high when you take his whole career at Famalicão into account, but even better if I only had used the 2020/21 stats of him. The stat itself is explained earlier in this piece. As you can see, Lameiras gets into scoring position often and puts his teammates in scoring position often as well.

Key passes and shot assists per 90

The next stat dives deeper into the creator role. Once again, we can see that Lameiras scores high on this and that he is one of the most creative players of Famalicão. It is important that the players that I will choose someone that scores at least average on this aspect.

Accurate progressive passes and deep completions per 90

Ruben Lameiras is not the most progressive player which you can see in the next two (above and below) scatterplots as well. This has its reasons as Ruben Lameiras often receives the ball in the final third and he attempts dribbles from there. When he receives the ball near the halfway line, he takes less risks and often will play a backwards or sideways pass.

Progressive runs and successful dribbles per 90

However, he does attempt a lot of dribbles but in this stat we are taking the successful dribbles into account. This stat only increased throughout this season and would have been higher if I had only taken that season into account. It would not be a big problem if a winger wouldn’t score high on progressive runs or passes.

Successful defensive actions and defensive duels won per 90

It is important to track back and be disciplined in defence when you are playing as a winger for Famalicão. Lameiras scores one of the best in this stat and this justifies the first sentence.

The score for every scatterplot:

  1. Blank area top right = 4 points
  2. Grey area above and right from the middle grey area = 3 points
  3. Blank area top left and bottom right and the middle grey area = 2 points
  4. Grey area below and left from the middle grey area = 1 point
  5. Blank area bottom left = 0 points

Note: if one to three players really stand out in one or both stats, they will get an extra 0,5 point (e.g. Nunnely in xG, Palacios even got an extra point as he stood out by far in both progressive passes and deep completions, Airton, Cavalleri and Laquintana in successful dribbles).

The ranking

In the end, all stats and scores combined led to a ranking which you can see down below.

I choose to watch the top 8 and three more players that I have already watched previously on video. This leads to the following eleven names:

  1. Carlos Palacios – Union Española (Chile)
  2. Emerson Rodríguez – Millonarios (Colombia)
  3. Deiber Caicedo – Deportivo Cali (Colombia)
  4. Mats Köhlert – Willem II (The Netherlands)
  5. Ignacio Laquintana – Defensor Sporting (Uruguay)
  6. Ramon Sosa – River Plate (Paraguay)
  7. Derlis Martínez – 12 de Octubre (Paraguay)
  8. Adolfo Muñoz – LDU Quito (Ecuador)
  9. Bryan Carabali – CS Emelec (Ecuador)
  10. Ché Nunnely – Willem II (The Netherlands)
  11. Jhon Sánchez – Independiente del Valle (Ecuador)

My picks after doing videoscouting

Some players (Rhaldney, Guilherme Rend and Laquintana) were excluded from the videoscouting after doing some more research on them before videoscouting them. I would have excluded them from the dataset, but it would cost a lot more time to remove them from all scatterplots so I chose to add a note here explaining myself.

I watched a total of 21 players and made sure to watch enough footage of each player to be able to form a representative opinion on all players. In the end, there weren’t that many players who I thought fit Famalicão or even had good enough potential for the club.

Defensive midfielders:

At the time of writing, Manuel Ugarte was already linked to Famalicão once, but later it was basically confirmed that he would move to Famalicão this winter. He would have been my first option which the followers of FCFamalicãoEN already know.

As many scouts will now, it can often happen that you watch a lot of players but that they simply do not fit the club you are scouting for or that they are good enough. That’s what happened with nearly every player in the defensive midfield position. The players I liked were Roemeratoe, Colorado and Alarcon. Those players did not fit the playing style of João Pedro Sousa and didn’t show sufficient potential in certain areas to be able to adapt to the role.

This is why I’m only choosing Ugarte, since he is perfect for the role and already better than the three other options while also being younger.

Godfried Roemeratoe is probably the best option apart from Ugarte, but I am not too sure on his on the ball abilities for now and the transfer fee for him would be relatively high when comparing it to Ugarte and other options. This is why I have not chosen for Roemeratoe.

Andres Colorado is more suited to a 4-2-3-1 with a ball-playing midfielder next to him. The Colombian is not capable of really progressing the ball further up the pitch and does not take any risks in his passing. Thus, he does not fit Famalicão since the ball-playing aspect is quite important.

Tomas Alarcon is also a good player, but Alarcon also is more suited to a different formation. I think that he is better as an 8 in either the 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-2-3 formation. His discipline to stay in position in defence is not there and his defensive positioning in general was not good at all.

Bonus: Manuel Ugarte – CA Fenix

Wingers:

There are four players that I really liked as wingers, but I have chosen for only one option in the end.

  1. Adolfo Muñoz – LDU Quito

There were three other players that I have considered:

Gonzalo Plata would be the best option by far, but it would be a loan for 0,5 years as Sporting don’t want to let him go on a permanent deal, which Famalicão could not afford anyway. Famalicão don’t need Plata for 0,5 years as Lameiras and Valenzuela are already at the club.

Carlos Palacios is another player that I really considered. However, even though he has a lot of potential, I don’t think that he’s ready to be the backup for Lameiras/Valenzuela yet. Gaining experience at a better club would probably make him more interesting.

Joao Rojas is a player that I wrote an extensive report on. I think that he could be a good backup, but he is not the future replacement of Ruben Lameiras which is why I have decided to not choose for Rojas. There are too many red flags on him which you can read in the player report.

There were plenty of options that didn’t have the physical ability to play in the Portuguese league, while there were also some players that didn’t really have the vision in the final third which is really important.

Conclusion

Concluding, my option for the DM position would have been Manuel Ugarte which you can read back in various tweets of mine, but he ‘unfortunately’ already is close to signing for Famalicão. This means that I did not have any other option for the DM position since the players I scouted were not good enough, did not have the required potential or didn’t suit the playing style. The option for the winger position is Adolfo Muñoz. He would be the perfect backup option for Famalicão and could replace Lameiras on the left wing which means that

I hope you enjoyed reading this piece and feel free to follow me and feel free to follow Target Scouting if you haven’t already. I’m open to suggestions for a new recruitment analysis, my DM’s are open so feel free to send me a message. I have a Scouting for Famalicão series where I give a weekly option for the famalicenses and am continuing with this series.

Discussion

There are some things that I would have done differently:

  • Doing more video scouting before adding players to the dataset. Doing data analysis to narrow down the database isn’t a bad thing but I feel like it was not effective in this case.
  • There are a lot of players in the dataset who play as one of the two defensive midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 or as one of the two central midfielders in a 4-4-2 which I should have done more research on.
  • I would have liked to give three options for each position but simply didn’t find players that are good enough apart from Adolfo Muñoz.

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