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The ‘Mexican Keane’

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€192 million was what Dutch champions Ajax Amsterdam got after the sale of Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, and Kasper Dolberg in the 2019 summer transfer window. So, even though key players left, Ajax has accumulated massive financial resources. And so, they began building for the future by buying young talent who could be developed into future stars. One of the players signed in the same transfer window was Edson Alvarez. The then 21-year-old was signed for a meagre €15 million from the Mexican club CF America.

Alongside Edson Alvarez, Ajax also signed Ryan Gravenberch and Lisandro Martinez. These players were seen as the future of the club. Three years later, it is safe to say that Ajax’s gambit on all three players has paid off big time. 

Ajax stormed to a record 36th Eredivisie title in 2021-22, and Alvarez played a big part in it. The Mexican played in a double pivot with Gravenberch, which formed the midfield bedrock for Erik Ten Hag. 

After a spectacular season, Ajax are again facing the 2019 summer situation with Chelsea in talks to sign the Mexican. So, will Alvarez find a new club, or will he extend his stay at Ajax? Before we answer this, here is an analysis of Edson Alvarez.

Edson Alvarez playing style 

Playing as a defensive midfielder in Ten Hag’s system requires a player to be physical, a hard runner and an accurate passer. Edson Alvarez ticks all the boxes. His heatmap from SofaScore shows that the youngster covers a lot of ground in a match. Alvarez was the shield for his centre-backs, Martinez and Jurrien Timber. 

The Mexican’s main job is to intercept passing lanes and ensure that Ajax are never caught defensively. For his position, Alvarez is fast and can quickly cover lots of ground which helps Ajax maintain their shape. He is like Thomas Muller in the Raumdeuter role but in midfield rather than attack.

What makes him unique is that despite being a defensive beast, he does not tackle that often. Instead, he blocks the passing lanes to intercept or block the ball. However, he does tackle a lot more in the attacking third, where he knows he can disrupt the opposition’s rhythm and escape punishment from the referee. 

His defensive insight allowed his midfield compatriot Gravenberch to help in the attack. Alvarez goes about his job quietly while the spotlight is on his teammates. This is what makes him a particular player.

Edson Alvarez stats 

Alvarez is a brilliant reader of the game and positions himself defensively according to the situation. According to fbref, Alvarez intercepted 0.32 passes per 90 minutes, among the top one per cent defenders. He also blocks 0.16 passes per 90 minutes, again among the top one per cent defenders. However, he can be the no-nonsense defender, as is evident by his 2.91 clearances in a match, better than 98 per cent of defenders.

The Mexican is also a brilliant passer of the ball. According to Soccerment, he completes 86.4 per cent. Another essential thing to note is that his best passing stats are for medium-range rather than short. This makes him dangerous as an expert medium-range passer playing in the middle of the field; he can be a menace to the opposition. 

He also has a success rate in aerial and ground duels of 66.7 per cent and 60.3 per cent, respectively. His 102 aerial wins are second-best in the Ajax squad behind Sebastien Haller. In addition, Soccerment rated him as the third-best player defensively in the league behind Timber and Martinez.

Edson Alvarez – Scout report 

Playing in an Ajax team, Alvarez has transitioned into a fluid player. This, combined with his pace and stamina, makes him an asset. Furthermore, he has played as a defensive midfielder in one of the most attack-minded systems in Europe. It means that he can easily transition his skills to the top teams in Europe who play similarly to Ajax.

Alvarez is also a player who is a great defender due to his mind than body. His excellent vision ensures that he rarely makes silly mistakes. In his three years in the Eredivisie, he has only made two mistakes that led to goals. 

In addition, Alvarez has played with some of the best young talents in Europe. These players are wise beyond age and a cut above the Dutch league. It will ensure that he will face less difficulty joining any top European club.

While his attacking play still needs improvement, he is an excellent defensive player with impeccable vision.

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Edson Alvarez transfer news 

After an impressive season, Alvarez was bound to attract attention from other clubs. The latest to register their interest are Chelsea. The Blues have had a disastrous start to the new 2022/23 Premier League season even after signing the likes of Wesley Fofana. However, extracting Alvarez from Ajax this summer is not going to be easy. As is a yearly tradition, Ajax have been gutted this season. Having already lost Lisandro Martinez, Noussair Mazraoui, Ryan Gravenberch and Antony among others, they are resistant to letting other players leave.

After a certain point, the issue of an incoming bid takes a backset over remaining competitive. Looks like manager Alfred Schreuder has reached that point in this transfer window. Furthermore, Edson Alvarez was clearly an unheralded part of last summer’s core. Now in a rebuilding team, he can shoot to further prominence, raking in a higher fee next summer. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely Ajax let Alvarez this window. However, if there’s one club that can throw an offer that they can’t refuse, it’s Chelsea. One thing is for certain, whichever team Alvarez leaves for, that team can rest easy about their defensive midfield spot for the next decade.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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