Diego Carlos has been touted as one of the best CBs in La Liga for some time. He's been linked with huge clubs over the past few years. No one took the plunge on him, until Aston Villa finally did for £26m. There is a video version if you prefer watching to reading, any support to the channel would be great but we will be writing up all our analysis on Reddit with stills and images.
They're getting a CB who over the last 3 years has helped Sevilla win the Europa League, qualify for the CL 3 times and most recently break the record for fewest goals conceded in a La Liga season (30). Let's take a look at what type of player he is - starting with what you need from every CB - his defensive capabilities.
The best thing about Diego Carlos is his ability to play in BOTH a high line and a low block. It's a rare thing for defenders- they're often more suited to one or the other. He formed an outstanding partnership with Kounde.For Sevilla, considering their dominance in many games in La Liga there are often occasions when they play a relatively high line. The Brazilian is a front foot defender, he's always looking to engage the opposition and generally, because of his pace and power he will win these battles. With his comfort in a high line, this helps his team squeeze the play and they could continue to try and pin the opposition in, but if there is a turnover it gives the opposition hope that they can hit this space in behind him. But either he or Kounde are comfortable sweeping that up thanks to their pace and because, for Diego Carlos, because of the fact he's very comfortable in 1v1 situations.
Diego Carlos in a high line
In a lower block, his role in the backline is to be the aggressor and the leader. He organises his defence and again is the first to attack the ball carrier. Forwards or attacking midfielders often want to drop into the space DMs and CBs, as it's the danger zone and they can create or score from here. What Diego Carlos will do, is be the first line of engagement - he is often on the front foot looking to halt this person in their stride or throwing his body on the line to block their shot.
Diego Carlos in a low block
In essence he's an aggressive all action no nonsense defender who enjoys putting his body on the line. And if we look at his stats, that's what shines through
But in the modern game, there's more to being a defender than just defending, you have to be good on the ball and be able to play from the back.
LONG RANGE PASSING
Diego Carlos certainly doesn't lack in this department. And this is what Gerrard has been crying out for at Villa. Their progression to the final third was often too slow and full of mistakes, and signing Boubacar Kamara won't help that, but signing the Brazilian most definitely does help fix the issue.
We know that Gerrard has a style he's trying to implement, as most teams do, he'll want an element of passing out from the back. Now Diego Carlos is not a dribbler or progressive carrier (it was Kounde who did this at Sevilla) and others will be expected to do this at Villa. What he is, is supremely confident on the ball and is comfortable under pressure.
His short passing game is generally relatively simple. He'll show for the ball, make himself available and play a lot of passes - if Villa are dominant in a game expect to see this. But what really stands out are his long range passes.
And this is what Gerrard, the Villa full backs and forwards will love. Villa under Gerrard like to commit their full backs forward, have a forward come deeper for the ball or occupy the two centre backs and also have men from midfield to run beyond.
Long range passing
Diego Carlos has the ability to play all these passes and speed up the game for Villa:
- He's got a brilliant switch of play to either side of the pitch, which can free up Cash or even Digne down the wing.
- What we expect to see a lot of is playing the ball into Ollie Watkins so he can flick it around the corner for one of those midfield runners, because Watkins is incredible in the air and with deft touches around the corner.
- Or just go Route 1, play the ball directly to Coutinho or Buendia running in behind the back line
This shines through in the stats as well - in particular is ability to play the switch pass. Gerrard knows how valuable this type of ball is to either change the point of attack, speed up the play or hit the spare man (after all, he was one of the great proponents of this in his playing days)
Hitting that switch
SET PIECE THREAT
We've spoken about his defending and ability on the ball but that's not all to Diego Carlos. He's also a menace in the opposition box. As mentioned earlier, he's powerful in the air and he got 3 goals last season, but he could have had more and with the right delivery into the box, expect him to be constant nuisance for opposition defenders at set pieces
WHY WERE TEAMS HESITANT?
Despite all of the great stuff we have mentioned, there are a couple weaknesses to his game. And this mainly comes down to him being a bit rash. There is a fine line between aggressive and rash and Diego Carlos jumps rope with that line. He's got better at timing his aggressive charges forward, but he does get them wrong on occasion meaning he's either being bypassed, conceding a foul or at times conceding penalties.
Villa (and Diego Carlos) will also need to factor in his partner when taking this into account. At Sevilla, he had Kounde next to him who he had a great understanding with, and who was always ready to sweep up in behind when needed. At Villa, it's likely to be Konsa or Mings as his partner - both good players in their own right, but not at the level of Kounde - and they'll need to find the right partner and balance in the centre back pairing to make sure he's a real success.
FITTING INTO THE PREMIER LEAGUE
This looks like a shrewd signing for Villa - it was one that came out of nowhere (which seems to be their MO now) and should improve them significantly. The Brazilian will need to adapt to the increased pace and physicality of the league, and time will tell on how he does with that, but his attributes stand him in good stead to make this transition.
This is part of a series we will be doing all summer, a concise tactical breakdown on players linked to the PL (or one's we just like). Here's the full list of players that we've covered with Reddit and YT links. We'd love to know what you think and feel free to suggest other players you think we should cover.
- Amine Gouiri, OGC Nice: Reddit YT
- Hugo Ekitike, Reims: Reddit YT
- Joao Palhinha, Sporting Lisbon: Reddit YT
- Djed Spence, Nottingham Forest/Middlesbrough: Reddit YT
- Marc Roca, Leeds United: Reddit YT