Joining in the January transfer window for a club record fee of €23 million from Borussia Dortmund, Paco Alcacer’s move to Villarreal has been a top piece of business so far.
Wanting a move away from Signal Iduna Park after only starting nine games this season, the Spanish striker knew he had to leave to get the minutes he craved. In addition, the fact BVB signed sensational youngster Erling Haaland would’ve only strengthened his thinking that leaving was the best option.
At his unveiling, Alcacer’s delight at finding a new home with the Yellow Submarines was evident. “The feelings are very good. I have to thank the club for the effort it has made for me to be here,” he insisted.
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“I don’t have to do it with words but to thank it with facts on the pitch. But if a player is comfortable, everything is better. It means a lot that a team is so interested. I wanted to come and it’s getting noticed in these early days. I wish it had been before and not so late.
“There are times when returning home is very important for me and for the family. La Liga Santander for me is the best and I think I don’t wrong to make this decision.”
Starting well by registering two goals and two assists in his first six league appearances for Javi Calleja’s men, he’s settled in nicely, with him illustrating many of the characteristics why he’s such a wonderful forward.
To start with his movement, and the former Barcelona and Valencia marksman’s so good in this regard, with his anticipation, instincts and awareness of nearby markers being great to see. Recognising when to attack the front or back post, hold his run at the edge of the box to be an option for the cutback or occupy spaces near the penalty box, he’s a real menace for opposition back lines to keep tabs on.
Quick to read the play and the ball’s flight, there has been many instances where he’s altered his runs and body position depending on the ball’s trajectory, as he reacts rapidly.
Alcacer’s also a threat when embarking on runs in behind from withdrawn starting positions. Tailoring his runs smartly to exploit the gaps between defenders and when they are preoccupied, he pounces to gain an edge on his man. Awake to his surroundings, this means he times and angles his runs coherently to supply a fantastic option for his colleagues.
Moreover, when it comes to dropping deep to link play, his timing and use of double movements has enabled him to gain separation to receive between the lines. From here, he can either turn and face goal-wards, switch the play, combine intricately with teammates using lay offs or flicks or hold up play while an option arises.
To further look at his technical qualities, and his solid first touch and control mean he can handle being pressed, dribble up-field or weave away from danger in close quarters. Moreover, while his passing isn’t what he’s known for, the Spaniard’s demonstrated how he can connect play with his aforementioned short game, plus by hitting some incisive through balls, spreading the play or even cutting the ball back soundly.
A lethal finisher, who’s deadly inside the box, Alcacer is a tremendous asset when he gets a chance. Capable of scoring super one touch efforts from range, 1v1s with the keeper, well angled headers, pouncing on rebounds and even the odd showstopper from range, this makes him a tough man to stop. Parlaying finesse, technique and placement, Alcacer’s poaching instincts are a joy to watch and should help the Yellow Submarines massively.
Looking at his numbers from the last five seasons, and his 0.47 goals per game from 0.61 Expected Goals per game, 2.52 shots pg, 80% pass completion rate, 4.02 touches inside the box pg and 0.93 shot assists pg depict what a threat he is.
At still just 26 and entering the prime years of his career, so many conditions, including playing alongside Gerard Moreno and being set up by the majestic Santi Cazorla, appear just right for him to thrive within this exciting Yellow Submarines outfit.
Wanting a fresh start after spending too much time on the bench at Dortmund, switching to Villarreal certainly appears like an ideal fit for him in his quest to get back to his best.