One of the names that is popping up during the transfer window is Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad. The 23-year-old is considered one of the best midfield talents and was even named the “next Busquets” by Xavi. According to reports, Manchester United and Barcelona are interested in signing the young midfielder. Zubimendi stays at the heart of the Sociedad midfield and creates play. He is a creative playmaker who is also good defensively. With the ability to anticipate plays and create them, Zubimendi is always in the mix of things. We look at some stats to understand why big clubs are looking to sign the 23-year-old midfielder.
Martin Zubimendi has made 14 appearances this season for Real Sociedad, starting 13 of them. He has a goal and two assists to his name and was crucial to their climb to the third position in La Liga. As the pizza chart suggests, Zubimendi is ranked in the top 94.4 percentile for aerial duels won and the top 66.6 percentile for defensive duels won. He is very good defensively and makes it hard for the opponents to go past him. Zubimendi has good passing stats too. He is ranked in the top 80.5 percentile for progressive passes per 90 and has decent passing accuracy as well. Going forward, he contributes to the goal and is ranked in the top 63.85 percentile for goal contribution per 90.
Zubimendi plays as a defensive midfielder and is a solid presence at the heart of the midfield for Real Sociedad. He is a strong player with the ability to anticipate passes and movements, cut passes, and make timely interceptions. He has made an average of 4.47 interceptions this season, mostly in the midfield. Moreover, Zubimendi takes part in 7.19 defensive duels per game with a success rate of 65.4%.
Aerial duels are one of Zubimendi’s strong suits, and he has the fourth-best record in La Liga among midfielders. He makes around 3.23 aerial duels per game with a success rate of 72.9%. He also makes it tough for the opponents through his pressing and recovers the ball ten times per game on average.
Passing is another area where Zubimendi excels. He is cool and calm and always looks for the free man. He has a good passing accuracy of 87.7% this season and averages around 46 passes per game. The 23-year-old is also good at switching flanks when needed and makes around 3.62 long passes per game with a 50% success rate. Zubimendi’s contribution to the attack is also important for Real Sociedad, as he makes around 7.93 passes to the final third and completes 73.6% of them. He also makes around 1.25 passes into the penalty box as well. He has two assists this season and has been an important figure for Real Sociedad.
Martin Zubimendi presses well and makes a lot of recoveries for Real Sociedad. The above visual shows the high regains made by Martin Zubimendi. He has made 26 counter-pressing recoveries and four dangerous recoveries this season. The Spanish International makes around 10.03 recoveries per game, with 32.8% of them in the attacking half. His recoveries high up the field have helped the team launch attacks from a dangerous position.
Compared to last season, Zubimendi is getting involved in more defensive duties this season. Last season, he averaged 6.17 defensive duels per game, winning 63.3% of the time. This has gone up to 7.19 this season. He made 3.58 aerial duels per game last season, which has come down slightly to 3.23 per game. He made 4.46 interceptions per game last season, which he has maintained this season as well. Overall, he has improved from last season and is solid at the heart of the midfield.
Can he be the next Busquets?
Martin Zubimendi got the highest of compliments when he was termed “the next Busquets” by Xavi Hernandez. While drawing comparisons to a legend of the game can put too much pressure on a 23-year-old, the numbers show that the comparison is not baseless. While it is no surprise that Busquets dominates passing, positioning, and defensive duels, Zubimendi has managed to surpass the veteran in dribbles, shots, and aerial duels won. We will have to wait and see if he does become the next Busquets, but for now, at least, he is showing signs that he can be a player of similar stature.
Martin Zubimendi is one of the most important players for Real Sociedad, and therefore the club has tied him down with a contract until 2026. But big clubs like Manchester United can easily meet his release clause of 60 million euros. If he decides to leave Sociedad for a bigger club, it will be a huge void to fill for them and a big gain for the team he decides to go to.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine