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Basque star in making

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Athletic Club have one of the most interesting transfer policies in world football. The club can only sign players who were born in the Basque Country, who developed in the team’s academy system or who came through at another Basque football club. Aymeric Laporte, Inaki Williams, Unai Simon, Ander Herrera and Kepa Arrizabalaga are just a few of the names who have come through Athletic Club’s academy system over the past decade or so.

Another such player to have risen through their ranks is attacking midfielder Oihan Sancet.

Oihan Sancet joined Lezama – Athletic Bilbao’s famous youth academy in 2015 from Osasuna. After a very successful 2017/2018 season with Athletic U-19, it was announced that Oihan will spend the preseason training with the first team. He hasn’t looked back since and is already a star in Ernesto Valverde’s setup.

Sancet scored the first hattrick of the La Liga season. It makes it successive seasons in which Sancet has scored hattricks in a match, one of many impressive assets to his game. Such has been his form that the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool are looking to bring him to their respective clubs this summer. So how good really is the young Spaniard?

How good is Oihan Sancet?

The 22-year-old has been one of the best players for Ernesto Valverde’s side this campaign and his stellar form has caught the attention of the elite clubs in Europe. Sancet has been a key player for Ernesto Valverde’s team this season having already registered seven goals in 20 La Liga appearances so far.

Sancet is quite a robust player. Very tall and with a rather refined physique, the academy graduate is certainly a presence on the pitch and a handful for opposition defenders. The flamboyant midfielder was the first player to score a hat-trick in the 2022/23 La Liga season as he bagged three goals in Athletic Bilbao’s 4-1 win over Cadiz. He has made over 100 appearances for his boyhood club till date while scoring 16 goals and producing seven assists.

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Sancet can play a number of different positions which makes him rather versatile for managers. Under Marcelino, he was primarily used as a second-striker, in place of the ageing Raúl García, and played alongside the speedster Williams which made for a formidable pairing. Although under Valverde this season, Sancet has been put in the middle of the park which has got out the best of him.

 

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Oihan Sancet stats

Sancet might be a player with a huge frame but that does not affect his contribution in the final third which is reflected by his high number of touches and passes per game. the 22-year-old is always determined in the defensive phase with good anticipation to provide key interceptions, clearances and tackles.

Sancet’s record in front of goal has been profoundly wonderful. Looking at all of his shots, the midfielder hits almost half of his shots on target which is exactly 47%, making it purely phenomenal for a player who is not a natural centre-forward.

Sancet’s xG is currently at around 0.35 per 90 while his actual goal tally stands at 0.48 per 90, showing that the player is actually outperforming his xG statistics by a margin of 0.13, an impressive record.

This season, he has averaged 0.84 key passes per 90, 1.01 through passes per 90 and 2.58 passes to the final third. However, these statistics could still be a lot higher considering how many times he is passed the ball between the lines. The young attacker’s expected assists per 90 stand at merely 0.19 too.

 

Oihan Sancet scout report

A box-to-box midfielder who is a confident and skilful player with good technique, aggressive dribbling and good reading of the game. The Spaniard is also very good with his off-the-ball movements and vision to make through passes to the teammates providing dynamism to the team’s last offensive third plays. One big asset about him is that he often likes to shoot from distance. The Basque born possesses high stamina, energy and the ability to go on lung-bursting runs through the middle of the park which has given him comparisons to Bayern’s Leon Goretzka.

Sancet is a very versatile midfielder who can play in various positions such as central-midfield and in a more advanced role. He is technically gifted and has an excellent range of passing. He is also a brilliant ball carrier and thanks to his frame of 6 ft 2 in, he is physically quite adept as well. Such a unique profile makes him highly regarded in world football and he could be a solid addition to Liverpool given their midfield struggles this campaign.

 

Oihan Sancet transfer news

Sancet’s impressive form has led to linking him with a move to Manchester United and Liverpool in the summer. Sancet’s contract expires in 2024 and he is rumoured to be negotiating a new contract. The 22-year-old has a release clause of around €45-50m, as per multiple reports. Bilbao are known for being difficult negotiators, and should talks over a new deal with Sancet break down, then Sancet will likely be forced to see out his contract.

Sancet is very much still a raw player and has a lot to learn in the game. The defensive side to his game has been highly-impressive under Valverde as the 22-year-old shows a real willingness to help out the side and a clear tactical understanding of football. The young midfielder is one to keep an eye on and could have a massive future in football if he can continue the same path that has already led to success.

 

Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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