As the transfer window starts to hot up, so do the players being linked with Leeds United. Multiple reports from South America are suggesting that Leeds United have turned their attentions to FC Basel striker Arthur Cabral, with a reported 15 million pound bid being made. The 22 year Brazilian who spent last season on loan in Switzerland joined the club permanently in a deal for around 4.5 million just a few days ago from Brazilian side Palmeiras but Leeds are said to be interested in him as their search for a striker goes on. With Michy Batshuayi linked over the last few days, could Arthur Cabral provide Leeds with a potentially cheaper, younger alternative?
Arthur Cabrel in total played 2681 minutes in all competitions last season, scoring 18 goals. On average he took 2.95 shots per 90 and a very respectful goal conversation rate of 20.455%. For those lovers of xG, he did manage to outperform his xG, with his expected goals being 17.3. If you take a look at his shot map below, you can see that all but 3 of his goals are scored within the penalty area, something we will come onto in the eye test section.
As we know in a Bielsa system you are required to work hard and bring others into the game. He has a relatively low 2.79 defensive duels per 90, but he isn’t required to contribute defensively in the system that FC Basel play, so you would expect that any move to Leeds would see that figure rise. He averaged 16.25 passes per 90 at a success rate of 78.1% with 3.09 of them being forward passes. His success rate of forward passes however is disappointing, completing just over half of the passes he makes. He did however average 0.27 key passes per 90, which is slightly more than current Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford averaged last season, who averaged 0.23 showing he does have the ability to create chances for others.
Arthur Cabrel’s primary position is as a striker and in FC Basel’s formation, normally a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1, he plays as the only forward. As you can see from his heat map, he’s very active in box as well as outside of it. This shows that he’s good at being involved in the build up phase as well as being in the right place at the right time in the box. During his time in Brazil, he did at times play as a number 10 due to his tendency to drop deep however as his goal record suggest, he’s much more comfortable playing as a number 9.
The first that stood out in the numbers was his ability in front goal and knack for being in the right place at the right time. His ability to find space and shoot with power and accuracy is really impressive. He really comes alive in the box and a calmness about him when in goal scoring positions. At 6ft 1 he also provides an aerial threat with 6 off his 18 goals coming from headers, as the example below shows, combining his ability to find space with his ability to score using his head. Even with two defenders around him, he points where he wants the ball delivering and manages to head unmarked. Although the defending was pretty poor, he still did well to time his run and head past the keeper.
Arthur isn’t overly quick in terms of his speed however, he also isn’t slow. Due to his movement in and around the box, he still finds himself in shooting positions a lot. If you combine this with his dribbling ability and quick feet, this helps him work room to gets shots off at goal. This is perfectly highlighted below, with 4 defenders around him, he manages to cut inside before cutting back on himself and prods the ball past the keeper.
He often varies his runs in terms of running in behind and coming short, but more often than not does the latter. His link up play is very good, dropping deeper to find space and open up a passing lane for his teammates to find him easier. He’s comfortable in wide positions and with his back to goal. When he does drop deep, if the defender goes with him, he has the strength to hold off the opposition, planting his feet and using his arm to keep distance between him and the defender.
As his passing stats suggested, he is heavily involved in most of his team’s attacking plays, even when he’s not the one scoring the goal. If the ball is played into his feet or his chest, Arthur has a good first touch and looks after the ball, which is important for any team that plays with only one striker. Once he has received the ball and passes it off to a teammate, he normally spins and attacks the space left behind by the defender moving out of position to try and prevent him getting the ball in the build up phase. This is showcased in the example below.
As you would expect with any player that comes from Brazil, he can produce fancy flicks and outrageous goals. As the two examples below show, one producing a beautiful back heel assist and the other him scoring an overhead kick, showing that he has the ability to produce a bit of magic when required.
Despite Arthur Cabral being an impressive goalscorer as well as looking after the ball well with the use of his strength and awareness, there are areas of his game that he needs to work on if he’s going to become a more well rounded forward.
Areas for improvement
Although he links up play very well, his passing in the final third can lack at times, particularly the passes that are forward. He plays with his head up which is encouraging and more often than not makes the right passing choice, just doesn’t execute the pass. Below is a good example off that, after doing well to run the channel and turn inside, he looks up and sees his teammate making a good run however over gets too much power on the pass and it runs out for a goal kick.
The pass was difficult to make and the example was probably extreme but it shows that he does have the potential to make them sorts of passes with his vision being good, just needs to work on the execution. He can also be guilty at times off trying to play difficult passes when there are better options but like the previous example, its encouraging to see with plenty of years ahead of him to improve the final ball. Out of the 18 goals he scored last season, only 1 one of them was with his left foot, that being from two yards out, so easier to score than to miss. He does look uncomfortable when having to taking a shot with his weaker left foot, lashing at the ball meaning he puts its high and wide. The passage of play below shows him with a good chance to chip the ball over the keeper with an empty net at his mercy, however under no pressure he slices it over the bar.
As previously mentioned, Arthur doesn’t really press and look to win the ball back high up the pitch. This I believe based on the games I’ve watched is more down to the style of play his current team FC Basel play, rather than him not having the attitude to do so. He has showed signs that he is more than capable of doing so, but something worth noting given the demands Bielsa has when it comes to his striker pressing. At 22 and having only played one season in Europe, he has plenty to improve and fine tune his skillset.
The step up from playing in Switzerland compared to the intense, full throttle of the Premier League is massive. However, at a price of around 15 million, Arthur Cabral could well be worth the gamble. FC Basel have a good track record of producing young players and improving them, with Mohammed Salah, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri all starting their career with the Swiss club. His ruthlessness in front of goal combined with strength and determination would stand him in good stead if the move to Leeds United happens. He fits the profile of what Leeds are looking for, young, hungry and room to improve. With the likes of Ollie Watkins and Michy Batshuayi also being linked with Leeds, Arthur could well be a cheaper, less known alternative to the two.
Written By Thomas Wilson.
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