Forget About Ricardo Rodriguez and Focus on Augsburg's Abdul Rahman Baba

Published on: 30 September 2014
Forget About Ricardo Rodriguez and Focus on Augsburg's Abdul Rahman Baba
Baba Abdul Rahman

By Allan Jiang

If major European clubs are seeking a cheaper alternative toWolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, then target Augsburg's Abdul Rahman Baba.

Before you learn about Baba, the transfer stock of left-backs has been inflated after Manchester United spent €38.4/£30 million on Luke Shaw, primarily on upside not productivity.

United legend Paul Scholes said he would spend that amount of money on a "centre-forward who's going to score 30 goals a season," not a left-back.

League Only Abdul RahmanBaba 14-15 Gareth Bale 14-15 Luke Shaw 13-14 Ricardo Rodriguez 14-15
Goals/Games 0/6 4/6 0/35 3/6
Shots Per Goal N/A 3.8 N/A 3.3
Assists 2 1 1 1
Key Passes Per Game 1.0 1.0 1.0 2.2
Dribbles Per Game 1.7 1.0 1.6 2.0
Passes Per Game 34.3 30.2 40 62.5
Pass Completion % 60.7 80.1 79.2 80.5
Cross Completion % 14.8 5 20.4 30.3

ricardo 1

Valued by Real Madrid at €91/£78 million, Bale takes 0.5 more shots to score per goal than Rodriguez, who has added defensive responsibilities as a left-back.

This means Rodriguez is a more efficient shooter than Bale and a more productive creator averaging 1.2 more key passes per game (pass leading to scoring chance).

Completing 32.3 more passes per game than Bale, Rodriguez also functions as a passing outlet.

So far this season from an attacking perspective, Rodriguez is matching Bale.

From a defensive point of view, Rodriguez made 103 tackles last season and has already won back the ball 30 times in six league games this season (13 tackles, 17 interceptions).

Rodriguez is on course for greatness at left-back, a position that is often the Achilles heel of teams.

Backed by €93.77/£73.19 billion-valued automobile company Volkswagen, Wolfsburg have financial clout, per RaphaelHonigstein at The Guardian: "Traditionalists have sneered at VfL[Wolfsburg] ever since their ascent to the Bundesliga in 1997 and were quick to point out that Volkswagen have generously subsidised the team to create an unfair advantage."

Therefore, Wolfsburg are not under financial pressure to sell Rodriguez to the first club that lodges a substantial bid.

Regarding Rodriguez's future, what Wolfsburg should do is hold out for a Galacticos-like transfer fee (this is presuming there is no buyout clause valued at €30/£23.4 million or less).

Rodriguez's transfer value puts him out of range for many European clubs, so this is where Baba comes in as a viable cost-effective alternative.

 

Left-Back Nation Age Height Weight
Abdul Rahman Baba Ghana 20 5'11" 154 lbs
Ricardo Rodriguez Switzerland 22 5'11" 170 lbs

Baba leads the Bundesliga in tackles per game (5.7), 3.5 more tackles per game than Rodriguez.

Baba's performances for Augsburg in the Bundesliga reaffirms why he was highlighted as a key player for Ghana during the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup, per FIFA's official website: "competitive left-sided defender with excellent technique and forceful attacking runs."

Borussia Dortmund can attest to Baba's "forceful attacking runs."

In Augsburg's 3-2 defeat to Dortmund, Baba created more scoring chances (three) than Henrikh Mkhitaryan (one), who was playing on the opposite wing for BVB.

Baba led the game in assists (two).

Both his crosses occurred in the last 10 minutes of the game (82nd and 89th), which shows his high fitness levels.

The ability to take the ball out of defence and into midfield is a trait Baba shares with Rodriguez.

Both complete 80 percent of their dribbles (Baba; 83 and Rodriguez;86).

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Augsburg management took a calculated gamble on Baba who displayed promise after taking over from Heinrich Schmidtgalas Greuther Furth's starting left-back.

"We are convinced that his [Baba's] sporting qualities fit in with our team," Augsburg general manager Stefan Reuter said, per the club's official website (h/t Nathan Quao at Citi FM). "He is a young player who has the potential to develop."

While Baba played for the worst team in the Bundesliga (Furth finished with 21 points from 34 games), he was a more productive ball-winner than Rodriguez was in his first season at Wolfsburg.

Baba won back possession 6.3 times compared to Rodriguez's 4.4.

Also, Baba was more proficient since he completed 3.5 tackles per foul, 0.9 higher than Rodriguez.

League Only Abdul Rahman Baba 12-13 Ricardo Rodriguez 11-12
Goals/Games 0/20 0/16
Shots Per Goal N/A N/A
Assists 0 0
Key Passes Per Game 0.5 0.8
Dribbles Per Game 1.7 0.8
Passes Per Game 27.7 36.6
Pass Completion % 69.3 70.3
Cross Completion % 22 23
Tackles Per Game 3.8 2.8
Tackles Per Foul 3.5 2.6
Interceptions Per Game 2.5 1.6
Fouls Per Game 1.1 1.1

Two years and eight months ago, then-Wolfsburg manager FelixMagath predicted that Rodriguez would become a "pillar" of the team.

It was a bold statement from Magath since Rodriguez was NOT a can't-miss prospect.

The FIFA technical study group opted to select BenjaminSiegrist, Granit Xhaka, Haris Seferovic, Nassim Ben Khalifa and PajtimKasami over Rodriguez as more outstanding players for Switzerland during the 2009 FIFA U17 World Cup, per FIFA's official website.

In early November we were extremely surprised to read in a number of newspapers and spurious transfer frothing websites that Rodriguez had been monitored by Milan and both the Manchester clubs, while also being identified as a long term replacement for Ashley Cole atChelsea.

All this just days after he was dropped at Wolfsburg.

Were we looking at the same player?

Full disclosure: In April 2012, I ranked Zakaria Labyad, Julian Draxler,Iker Muniain, Isco, Thibaut Courtois, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ola John, John Guidetti, Raphael Varane, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and MarioGotze as better teenage prospects than Rodriguez, per Bleacher Report.

Rodriguez's red flags at the time were off-putting and same can be said about Baba: Inaccurate passer (60.7 pass completion percentage) and defensive positioning can be shoddy.

To the all major European clubs that were late to the Rodriguez party, do not make the same mistake with Baba.

He has the potential to enjoy a meteoric Rodriguez-like rise.

 

 

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