Tuesday 21 November 2017

Who is Manchester United and Liverpool target Carlos Bacca?

Carlos Bacca
Carlos Bacca

Alistair Tweedale

Sevilla and Colombia forward Carlos Bacca is attracting a great deal of attention from England, with Manchester United the latest club to make an enquiry.

He has a £21 million release clause, but what would any potential suitor be getting for their money?

Bacca is an out-and-out striker, a goalscorer, a poacher, a fox-in-the-box type of forward, who offers a fantastically lethal threat in front of goal but not a great deal else in terms of build-up play.

That is not to say he is not an intelligent player, instead that he is aware of where he is best and most effective, and that he concentrates on making an impact in that way.

Only superstars Cristiano Ronaldo (48), Lionel Messi (43) and Neymar (22) as well as reported Chelsea target Antoine Griezmann (22) scored more goals in La Liga last season than Bacca (20), but the player heavily linked with United and Liverpool did so from significantly fewer attempts.

 Bacca scored his 20 goals from just 59 shots, meaning he maintained a conversion rate of 33.9 per cent, scoring with more than one in every three shots. That rate was not only the best of all attackers in La Liga last season – significantly better than Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar – but also better than every Premier League striker bar Diego Costa (34.4 per cent).

That is some company to be in, and judging by the success Costa has had since his move to England, maybe Bacca could enjoy a similar time of things.

The Colombian - recently involved in a scuff with Neymar at the Copa America - scored all of his goals from inside the box, with 17 coming from his trusty right boot, though six of those were netted from the penalty spot and that will certainly have boosted his conversion rate.

He has significant pedigree in European competition, too, having scored 11 goals over two successful Europa League campaigns with Sevilla, including the second and third in a 3-2 triumph over Dnipro in this year’s final.

Both Manchester United and Liverpool’s strikers struggled for goals last season; Bacca alone scored only seven league goals fewer than all of United’s strikers put together, while he netted some 12 more than all four of Liverpool’s forwards.

Bacca is not an all-rounder by any means, though. He does the vast majority of his work in the final third, and completed only 67.5 per cent of his passes last season.

That means he is successful with a shot attempt over half as frequently as he is with a pass attempts, which further highlights his lethal finishing as well as rather questionable passing.

He is unlikely to provide direct competition for Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford, instead the perfect number 9 with which to combine where Falcao and Robin van Persie largely failed last season, while Liverpool may want further fire power to compete with the perennially injured Daniel Sturridge, misfiring Mario Balotelli and newly signed Danny Ings.

Were Bacca to end up at either of these teams by the end of the summer, he certainly has the potential to be an instant hit in the Premier League.

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