Real Betis were active in the January transfer window and were first and foremost on the lookout for attack-minded players. They brought in two new players. Jese signed on a loan deal until the end of the season, and Mexican prodigy Diego Lainez joined them on 10 January.
Lainez signed a five-year-long contract with the Spanish team. His transfer from Club America to Betis was reportedly worth around €14 million. He became the youngest player who left the Mexican league. Also, this is the second most expensive transfer paid for a Mexican player by a European club.
Four players left this January. Incidentally, all of them were loaned out and all play in attacking positions, hence the need for new ones. Takashi Inui, who only joined Betis from Eibar last summer, was transferred on a loan deal to Alaves after having played only 379 minutes for the Green and Whites in La Liga this season.
Ryad Boudebouz joined Celta Vigo on the last day of the transfer window. He has recorded 538 minutes for Betis in La Liga this season and was soon followed by Alex Alegria, a striker who joined second-tier side Sporting Gijon. He only accumulated 131 minutes for Betis in Spain’s top flight.
All three of these players, however, decided to stay in Spain. Striker Antonio Sanabria was the only real regular at the club out of the four who were transferred. He appeared in 15 games, but only eight of them as a starter. As a result of Krzystof Piatek leaving Genoa, Sanabria joined the Serie A side as his replacement until June 2020.
Who is Diego Lainez?
Let’s have a look at Lainez’s profile.
As you can see from the image above, Diego Lainez is a left-footed player. He usually plays as a left winger, but we can see on his heat map that he can play on both sides of the pitch. He is an extremely versatile player because he can play as on both of the flanks and also as an attacking midfielder.
Quique Setien has used different formations this season. Generally, he likes to play with three players in defence. He has used 3-5-2, 3-4-1-2 and 3-4-2-1 formations, respectively.
Lainez has recorded four appearances for Betis so far, and managed to get in the starting XI twice. Against Girona and Espanyol he played as a left winger. In the other two games, in which he was in the starting lineup, he played as the left of two attacking midfielders. In both games Lainez played in tandem with Canales, with Moron as the lone striker.
Betis legend and veteran Joaquin is still an important player for Setien. He has recorded 16 La Liga appearances this season, 10 as a starter. His manager has picked him in in many roles, including as a striker, an attacking midfielder, and as a right winger. He has spent the majority of his time on the pitch as an attacking midfielder, though.
As we can see, Setien generally plays in a 3-4-2-1 formation, using Lainez in an attacking midfield position. Joaquin plays in the same position and Lainez could very well be his replacement. Let’s see how they compare.
It makes sense to compare Lainez to Joaquin to see whether his statistics match up to the current levels in the Betis squad, as many consider the Mexican to be the replacement for Joaquin. The latter is 37 years old, and soon Betis will need to replace him. Lainez, on the other hand, is only 18 years old. He has played for all of Mexico’s age group national teams and has already recorded two caps for the senior national team.
Above, we can see the key statistics from his 2018/19 season. As he is an attack-minded player, I will focus on his attacking parameters. He has recorded an average of 65.35 total actions per 90 minutes with a completion ratio of 58.5%. On average, he has scored 0.21 goals per 90 minutes and recorded 0.08 assists. Lainez has a pass completion % of 81%. He is very proficient witht he ball at his feet, averaging 8.64 dribbles per 90 minutes with 75.9% success.
Above, we can see the key statistics from Joaquin’s 2018/19 season. Let’s compare the two within the same parameters. Joaquin recorded more total actions per 90 minutes than Lainez with 73.1 compared with Lainez’s 65.35. His 68.5% success rate is also 10% better than that of Lainez, as can be seen above.
Be that as it may, it has to be pointed out that Lainez scored more goals than Joaquin. The senior man has recorded 0.11 goals per 90 minutes (0.1 less than Lainez). On the other hand, Joaquin has registered more assists with 0.16 per 90 minutes. This is double the amount of Lainez’s output.
Joaquin recorded 15 more passes than Lainez per 90 minutes (43.35 vs 28.08). Also, Joaquin has more success with 86.8% pass completion compared to Lainez’s 81%. When it comes to dribbling, Joaquin recorded 5.94 dribble attempts per 90 minutes, which is less than Lainez’s 8.64, but even though his output is slightly lower, he edges Lainez out when it comes to dribbles completed with 83.7% compared to Lainez’s 75.9%.
Joaquin is 37 years old and his career is coming to an end. To secure his replacement, Betis brought in young Mexican player Lainez as the third most expensive transfer in their history.
Setien usually plays in a 3-4-2-1 formation. He used both of these players in the attacking midfielder role. Like Joaquin, Lainez can play in all attack-minded roles since he is a good dribbler and a technically gifted player. Also, he is only 18 years old, which is an added bonus.
I think this transfer was a good move from Betis and Lainez has a bright future ahead if he continues down this path. Only time will tell.
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