Comparing West Ham’s talented right-back targets – Stats reveal who is the better choice for Pellegrini

West Ham opinion: Rafael vs Valencia – who should the Hammers sign?

West Ham United have had an up and down campaign in the Premier League so far this season. Manuel Pellegrini’s side overcame a terrible start to the season with a string of fantastic results, but the Hammers have been poor in recent games.

A place in the top-7 looked realistic a few weeks ago but a recent dip in form has seen them drop out of the top half of the table. West Ham should now focus on summer incomings to strengthen their squad.

An area of serious concern for Pellegrini is at right full-back. Pablo Zabaleta’s future at the club is still unclear as the Argentine’s current deal with the Hammers expires in the summer.

West Ham have been linked with ex-United stars Rafael da Silva and Antonio Valencia.

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Both Rafael and Valencia’s deals with their current clubs expire in the summer and the duo would be available for free. But how do the two former Premier League winners fare against each other in terms of numbers? Let’s find out using statistics from last season.

Defensively

Valencia was a mainstay under Jose Mourinho last season and had an impressive season for the Red Devils. He averaged 1.8 tackles, 1.5 interceptions, 1.9 clearances and 0.7 successful aerial duels won in the Premier League. (WhoScored)

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Rafael, on the other hand, averages 2.1 tackles, 1 interception, 1.4 clearances and 1.2 successful aerial duels for Lyon in the Ligue 1 last season.

Rafael made only 14 appearances for the club compared to Valencia’s 31. The Ecuadorian’s consistent numbers make him a better bet for the Hammers. (WhoScored)

Verdict: Antonio Valencia

Offensively

Valencia scored 3 goals and picked up an assist last campaign for the Red Devils. He averaged 51 passes per game; of which 2.4 were long balls, 0.7 were key passes, 0.5 crosses; all with an impressive passing accuracy of over 85%. (WhoScored)

Rafael, despite playing less than half as many games as his former teammate, has the same number of assists. However, the Brazilian’s numbers when compared to Valencia in each of the above-mentioned categories are considerably inferior. (WhoScored)

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Verdict: Antonio Valencia

Conclusion

Antonio Valencia’s stats suggest that he is superior to Rafael, both defensively and offensively. However, Valencia will turn 34 in the summer, which could prove to be a massive factor in West Ham’s decision to sign the right-back.

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However, Valencia’s experience over the years would be invaluable to the squad and with the veteran coming in for free, West Ham will gain a lot by signing him for a season.

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Written by Shamanth Jayaram

24-year old Electrical engineer turned football writer, born and brought up in Bangalore.

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