As Real Madrid weigh left back options, The Real Deal will analyze top talents through in-depth player comparisons. First, a statistical look at Miguel Gutiérrez and Fran Garcia - two bright prospects linked to Los Blancos.
In upcoming installments, we’ll study:
- Ferland Mendy
- Alphonso Davies
- Jordi Alba
- Andy Robertson
Miguel Gutiérrez has been having a phenomenal breakout season Girona, acting as a key piece in their title bid. Rumors suggest Real Madrid may buy him back from Girona this summer.
Last season, Real Madrid found itself in a similar situation, bringing back Fran Garcia after an excellent season at Rayo Vallecano.
Considering both left backs spearheaded tremendous seasons, lets compare their breakout campaigns: Miguel 23/24 vs Fran 22/23
One huge caveat here is that Girona are simply a better team than Fran’s Rayo.
Firstly, both players took an identical volume of touches, and have similar ‘usage rates’ in these samples. Miguel is at 64.1 touches per 90 this season. Fran was at 64.4 touches per 90. Their splits across the defensive 3rd, the middle 3rd and final 3rd are basically identical as well. Eerily similar in that regard.
Miguel boasts slightly higher passing accuracy than Fran this season, completing 45.4 passes per 90 at 85.4% accuracy compared to Fran’s 42.9 passes at 78.5% accuracy at Rayo. Miguel edges Fran in all the splits: short, medium and long balls.
However, Fran’s accuracy has risen to 84.8% on 55.7 passes per 90 at Real Madrid. Better teams enable higher completion rates.
Fran also averages more progressive passes p90 for Madrid (4.7) than at Rayo (3.88) or than Miguel at Girona (4.15) respectively.
The one clear passing edge for Miguel is long balls - he completes 2.81 per 90 at 70%, while Fran has never exceeded 45% long ball accuracy, even for Madrid. This suggests Miguel may be stronger at resisting a press and certain aspects of ball striking, but more analysis is needed to draw any such conclusions.
In summary, Miguel shows slightly better overall passing but team context likely aids this. Fran’s stats have improved for Madrid and blur the picture.
Another area where the two are nearly identical is with regard to take-ons.
Miguel is completing 0.82 take-ons per game at 45.6% success rate.
Fran completed 0.83 at a 40% success rate for Deportivo.
Fran has declined in this regard this season at Madrid, but the sample is limited and the nature of adjustment to a new team environment means we can’t draw too many conclusions from this either.
Ball-Carrying is an area where Fran seems to have an edge.
Fran averaged 35.6 carries p90 for Rayo, and Miguel averages 36.5 carries p90.
Miguel carries it about 50 fewer yards with essentially the same volume of carries.
Fran averaged 4.83 progressive carries (which drive the ball 10 yards or more towards the opposition goal) to Miguel’s 1.89, and 3.75 carries into the final third to Miguel’s 1.80.
Miguel at Girona this season averages 0.1 xG90 and 0.17 xAG90 to Fran’s 0.03 and 0.04 respectively at Rayo.
However, Fran is up to 0.2 xAG90 this season at Real Madrid, suggesting team context may play a role here as well.
One thing is for sure: Miguel is attacking the box and getting more of a ‘big team’ experience at Girona than Fran did at Rayo.
In terms of receptions, Miguel receives the ball 40.5 times p90 to Fran’s 37.4 at Rayo. Similarly, he averages 5.07 progressive receptions to Fran’s 4.41.
However, once again important to note team effects may play a role: Fran is up to 50.1 receptions and 8.5 progressive receptions for Real Madrid this season.
On paper, Rayo Fran edges out Girona Miguel defensively : 3.38 tackles + interceptions p90 compared to 1.52 for Miguel.
Granted Miguel has an edge with 2.26 clearances to Fran’s 1.74.
But the starkest gap is against dribblers; Miguel is only winning 40% of his challenges against them while attempting half as many challenges as Fran (who won 57.3%).
But that was with Fran playing for Rayo. At Real Madrid, his success rate and volume of challenges won is almost identical to Miguel (37.5% success rate). However, his interceptions are further up at 1.4.
Maybe Fran is a slightly more tenacious defender?
Ultimately, the statistical similarities tell us little absent deeper tactical analysis. The team contexts differ vastly - Girona boast far superior +9.3 xG difference and +27 goal difference compared to Rayo’s -6.4 and -8 last season.
While Miguel has been incredibly efficient and dangerous for the better Girona side, Fran posted strong volume and progression numbers considering Rayo’s limitations. Miguel’s long ball accuracy stands out, but Fran has shown promise against deep blocks for Madrid when given the chance.
Miguel is potentially better prepared for Real Madrid’s needs. But there is the possibility that both may require extended minutes to fully adapt and realize their potential. Side-by-side video review is needed to properly assess differences in style, defensive capabilities, passing vision and other intangibles.
The stats alone paint an incomplete picture between two bright prospects.