I'm back this week with another profiling exercise related to two recently-reported Celtic transfer targets: midfielder duo Alfa Semedo and Vinicius Souza.

As a quick reminder, this is intended as an exercise to try to ascertain potential relative strengths and weaknesses for players as well as how they might fit within Celtic’s playing style under Ange Postecoglou. Obviously, a comprehensive recruitment process should include far more analysis.

Alfa Semedo

Let us start with the most recent target: Semedo. An analytical choice has been made for this exercise as far as he is concerned. This is to focus upon his 2020-21 season at Reading.

He spent last season playing in Portugal but clocked relatively limited minutes and in a variety of roles and positions, including some at centre-back. For the 2020-21 season, he played as a central and attacking midfielder. Here was his season relative to a peer group sample created for the EFL Championship:

Celtic Way:

Note: for all of these graphics, the players are shown as a percentile ranking for each metric.

Semedo’s profile suggests a player with significant physical attributes who struggled a bit to translate them into production.

For example, his duel, defensive duel, and dribble volumes all rank very highly but his success rates for all are either mediocre or below average. His profile for creativity and passing was weak overall too.

Given this profile, it appears reasonable that Vitória would have tried him out this past season in more defensive roles. Here was his profile relative to the age-based sample:

Celtic Way:  

Here we can see that some of his weaknesses were amplified with this sample, with his success rate in duels and accuracy with progressive passes two such examples. 

Next was his league peer group for last season, where he played primarily defensive midfield with some centre-back minutes:

 Celtic Way:

His creativity understandably took a hit with his role dropping back to be more defensive, but his success rates and overall defensive output generally improved. Passing metrics remained relatively weak.

Vinicius Souza

How about Souza? His pedigree appears to have been higher profile and that is certainly reflected in this exercise.

Here he was last season at Mechelen playing in the Belgian top flight:

Celtic Way:

As referenced when I introduced this exercise a few weeks ago, the two primary questions we are attempting to answer here is whether a player dominated in their domestic leagues and how they performed relative to their age-based peer group.

Relative to domestic dominance, Souza’s defensive output certainly qualified with one caveat: his seemingly aggressive playing style did result in a large number of fouls and at a significant, if reduced, rate.

He played primarily as a defensive midfielder, so his creative and attacking output was understandably low relative to the sample. However, his mediocre-to-low passing success rates, combined with low progressive runs and accelerations, raises questions about his pace and technical passing ability.

Here was Souza relative to his age-based peer sample:

Celtic Way:  

Similar to Semedo, his strengths held up well versus this peer group but his weaknesses were amplified. The confluence of ‘ball progression’ metrics of progressive runs, accelerations and progressive pass success rate could constitute a red flag.

As it pertains to squad needs for Celtic relative to Postecoglou’s preferred style of play, this exercise suggests Semedo may not be so well suited for an attacking midfielder role - but what about defensive midfield or even as a centre-back?

Similarly, it must be said his metrics for ball progression and passing raise potential concerns over his suitability for build-up play and creating from deep versus bunkered domestic opposition in either of those positions.

Souza certainly looks like he would bring a more traditional combative presence to the defensive midfield position but that would raise questions about Callum McGregor’s suitability as an attacking 8 at Champions League level.

Such a skill-set may be overkill in the vast majority of games versus domestic opposition and his ball progression and passing metrics, similar to Semedo, raise potential concerns about his ability to build out from the back as the sole pivot versus pressing opponents at a Champions League level.

Postecolgou’s tenure in Japan included significant use of a dual-pivot in a 4-2-3-1. Neither Semedo nor Souza appears to suit the single-pivot role McGregor played so well in last season.

The profile of players who ultimately sign with Celtic may offer clues as to potential tactical adjustments for the upcoming season.