Tuesday, 2 September 2014

New Signing: Morgan Amalfitano

Morgan Amalfitano

DOB: 20/03/1985
Age: 29
Position: Winger

Previous Club: Oympique de Marseille
Previous Division: Ligue 1

Transfer Date: 01/09/2014
Reported Fee: £1m

Analysis
In the final throws of the transfer window, West Ham United rolled the dice once more to bring in one-time French international Morgan Amalfitano from Marseille.

The winger spent last season on loan in the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion, and returns to England for a fee of around £1m, on a one year deal with a further two year option.

Amalfitano's arrival sees the squad bolstered in wide areas, increasing our roster of wingers to four, and strengthening the side after the departure of Mohamed Diamé earlier in the day.

So how does Amalfitano compare to his new colleagues, and a couple of departed part-time widemen?

Comparison
In terms of chances created, the new man compares favourably.

In his time with the Baggies last season, Amalfitano created 1.89 chances per game, a rate only bested by Stewart Downing (2.23). In fact, his rate of creativity was greater than Mohamed Diamé, Joe Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te combined (1.82).


The Frenchman also compares well when it comes to goal involvements.

As well as netting four times for West Brom last season, Amalfitano recorded three assists, meaning his combined goal involvement stood at a respectable 7 goals.

As you can see in the chart below, the departed Diamé had the best record of West Ham's widemen last season, with a total of 6.


The record of four goals scored is made more impressive by the fact that the wideman attempted fewer shots per 90 minutes than all of his competitors, bar Matt Jarvis.

Amalfitano only attempted 1.14 shots per game last season, compared to 2.18 by Diamé and 3.47 from Vaz Te.


Strengths
Amalfitano's main strength as a footballer is his attacking intent. He enjoys running with the ball and taking men on, and gets the ball into the box with real regularity.

Last season, Amalfitano attempted a whopping 3.74 take ons per 90 minutes. In the West Ham squad last season, this figure was only bested by Ravel Morrison (4.52) and Mohamed Diamé (5.82). And with a success rate of 47%, it was a common site to see the Frenchman beating fullbacks for fun and scampering away down the flank.

And there is end product too.

Last season, only Stewart Downing and Ahmed Elmohamdy (Hull City) put in more successful crosses than Amalfitano. In total, he attempted 7.49 crosses per 90 minutes - less than Downing (10.41) and Jarvis (8.11) - with a success rate of 26% (Downing 29%; Jarvis 20%).

The images below show Amalfitano's performance in West Brom's 3-0 win over Sunderland at the Hawthorns last year.

The winger completed 2 of his 3 take ons (right), and created three chances for teammates with his crossing (left). On top of this, he also scored a goal and recorded a respectable 82% pass completion rate.

http://epl.squawka.com/west-bromwich-albion-vs-sunderland/

West Ham fans should be well aware of Amalfitano's attacking capabilities, after he put in a key performance against the Hammers in our 1-0 defeat in the Midlands last season.

You can see from the image below that the winger spent a lot of his time pressing forward, penning back George McCartney and causing a general nuisance of himself.

During that game, Amalfitano created a huge 5 chances, setting up the winning goal for Saido Berahino.

http://epl.squawka.com/west-bromwich-albion-vs-west-ham-united/

Weaknesses
Having spoken to a couple of Baggies fans on deadline day, I've been told that the main issue with Amalfitano is that he can be quite wasteful.

Last season, the wideman achieved a pass completion rate of 78% - equal to Matt Jarvis. However, he also lost the ball through lapses in concentration or trying to do too much on a number of occasions.

As you can see in the chart below, this has been a running theme throughout Amalfitano's career, with the winger losing possession through miscontrol (turnover) or through being tackles (dispossessed) an average 4.45 times per 90 minutes over the past five seasons.


Conclusion
The arrival of Amalfitano provides West Ham with something we needed: an attacking winger.

Stewart Downing has been in good form since the tail end of last season, but Matt Jarvis and Ricardo Vaz Te have failed to set the world alight in their time with the club in the Premier League. Adding Amalfitano to the pool of wingers provides another option, and increases competition for places once again.

The wideman brings obvious attacking quality, and is very capable of both scoring and creating goals and chances for others. He may not always look for the easy option, but he provides a bit of excitement and unpredictability, to a sometimes pedestrian West Ham midfield.

This signing signals an end to one of the best transfer windows in memory for West Ham. So let's hope the new introductions can settle into the side quickly, and improve our fortunes on the pitch.

Welcome to West Ham United, Morgan Amalfitano!