Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has confirmed that the club will sign Fiorentina defender Marcos Alonso on loan as the January Transfer Window opens to provide the Black Cats with a further stop-gap to solve their long-standing problem at left-back.
Alonso, who turned 23 on Saturday, joined the Viola on a free transfer in the summer after spending three seasons at Bolton Wanderers – joining the Lancashire club from Real Madrid. He’s made just three appearances for Fiorentina this season in Serie A (one start), with a further five Europa League starts. This compares well to his time at Bolton, with very little playing time in the Premier League over his first two seasons before becoming a regular starter in the Championship – impressing Fiorentina in the process.
In terms of statistics on Alonso, the total number of minutes that he has spent on the pitch between Bolton and Fiorentina in the Premier League that we have is small as he’s played a total of 850 minutes – so a sample size that is too small to judge. Still, he’s averaged 3.49 tackles, 2.33 interceptions and 6.56 clearances on a per 90 minutes basis over that spell, winning possession 1.80 and 2.01 times per 90 minutes in the defensive and midfield thirds respectively. His passing accuracy has been just 66.94% – dragged down by his first season with Bolton (57.53%). To sum up, he’s put up solid defensive numbers and below average passing statistics. However, he has been better in the Europa League this season, averaging 3.40 tackles, 3.40 interceptions, 4.00 clearances per 90 minutes, with a much stronger overall passing accuracy of 79.83%.
Defensive statistics are difficult to judge on an individual basis, given that they can be inflated by a player’s role, his team’s tactics and the overall quality of the side, so whether Alonso will provide an improvement remains to be seen. What’s clear, however, is that Sunderland manager Gus Poyet does not really trust the club’s only recognised left-back prior to bringing in Alonso.
Andrea Dossena joined Sunderland on transfer deadline day in a deal that appeared to be more of a panic addition due to Director of Football Roberto De Fanti’s inability to acquire an alternative throughout the summer. Dossena’s Sunderland career has been stop-start in nature, beginning with an injury, delayed by a suspension, and has been in-and-out of the side throughout – with midfielder Jack Colback and right-back Phil Bardsley all seeing time on the left side of the defence.
As a result, Dossena has played just 407 minutes for Sunderland after making his debut in the 2-1 win over Newcastle, making five starts and a further appearance off of the bench in the Premier League. He’s made 1.99 tackles, 2.21 interceptions and 1.33 clearances on a per 90 minute basis, winning possession between the defensive and midfield thirds 2.65 times per 90 minutes – with an overall passing accuracy of 64.29% – so overall, he’s not done a lot for the club (with the sample size also playing a role). Furthermore, Dossena has been beaten by opponents on nine occasions – matching his number of tackles made this season.
Sunderland have a total shots ratio of 0.43 in the four games that Dossena has started and completed (so excluding the Hull match in which the Italian saw red), conceding 16.00 shots per match – statistics that are almost mirrored over the course of the season (16.63 shots conceded per match with a 0.42 TSR – so 58% of shots taken in Sunderland matches are by their opponents). Only Fulham (19.0) and Cardiff (17.8) have conceded more shots on a per match basis, with just Fulham (41) conceding more than the 32 goals conceded by Sunderland this season. What’s clear is that Sunderland need to improve defensively as a unit, with left-back being an area that the club have now targeted to strengthen.
Marcos Alonso has joined on loan for the remainder of the season, so the solution at left-back is temporary (much like Danny Rose was last season). Whether Alonso is the right man for the club on an immediate basis will be seen going forward, with tightening up at the back an obvious need in Sunderland’s survival hopes. Nonetheless, Andrea Dossena has not solidified a position in the starting XI for Sunderland – so there should be the opportunity for Alonso to receive playing time at the top-level on a regular basis for the first time in his career.
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