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Lucas CastroRumours abound that Massimo Cellini’s Leeds United are in the market for another addition to their ever-growing ‘legiona stranieri’ with eyes being turned towards Argentinian midfielder Lucas Castro who played last season with Catania, recently relegated from Italy’s Serie A. During his 2 seasons playing for Catania, after his 2012 transfer from Argentinian top tier side Racing Club for a fee of €2 million, Castro has accrued exactly 4,000 minutes of top-tier Italian football (equivalent to 44 games) over the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons. Over these two season with Catania, Castro also brings 7 goals at a rate of one every 571 minutes of football action.

When thinking of Leeds United midfield players, perhaps the most ‘attack-minded’ midfield player on the books is £1 million signing Luke Murphy. This leave a pertinent question being this; ‘Just how does Castro’s contribution stand up against that of Luke Murphy?’

Table comparing Lucas Castro and Luke Murphy – passing

Per 90 metrics Attack Successful Passes Passing Accuracy Key Passes Chances Created Assist
Lucas Castro 2012/13 24.89 32.9 80% 1.06 1.32 0.26
Lucas Castro 2013/14 9.55 23.83 74% 1.55 1.65 0.09
Luke Murphy 2013/14 6.95 24.02 72% 1.33 1.39 0.06

 The per 90 metric gives an idea of what a player is capable of over the course of 90 minutes worth of football and gives a fairer comparison between players where there is a disparity of time played (Castro 2013/14 – 1968 mins; Murphy 2013/14 – 3039 mins). The above table indicates that Castro’s 2012/13 performance is, in parts, better than Luke Murphy’s 2013/14 season at Leeds United: he has more succcessful passes per 90 (31.9 vs 24.02), a higher passing accuracy (80% vs 72%); whereas Murphy comes out on top with more key passes per 90 (1.33 vs 1.06) and slightly more chances created per 90 (1.39 vs 1.32). What is worth noting, however, is Castro’s improved performance in two key areas where Leeds United are currently lacking: key passes and chances created. Castro created 1.65 chances per 90 last season and made 1.55 key passes. Whilst Luke Murphy’s 2013/14 production isn’t that far of Lucas Castro’s 2013/14 marks, his (Murphy’s 2014/15 figures are much more comparable – albeit over only 4 games (350 mins) of play. This season, Murphy has ‘key passes’ per 90 and ‘chances created’ per 90 figures of 1.54; only marginally down on Lucas Castro’s returns from last season.  Going on the above figures does seem to indicate that Leeds would not be gaining a significant upgrade with the loan/purchase of Lucas Castro. One interesting number that Lucas Castro returns, which I didn’t include in the above table (due to not having a direct comparison with Luke Murphy), is the number of ‘final third’ passes per 90 that Castro makes. In the 2012/13 Serie A campaign, Castro made 17.2 final third passes per 90 (71% accuracy); in 2013/14 this number dropped slightly to 16.7 final third passes per 90 (66% accuracy). This area is one area where Leeds United are currently lacking, that ‘killer ball’ in the final phase of passing.

Table comparing Lucas Castro and Luke Murphy – shooting

Per 90 metrics Shots Inside Area Outside Area Accuracy
Lucas Castro 2012/13 2.34 1.32 1.02 41%
Lucas Castro 2013/14 1.88 1.23 0.64 50%
Luke Murphy 2013/14 1.07 0.27 0.80 27%

What is obvious, and as stark as the early morning sunrise, is the following: Lucas Castro gets himself into more shooting positions than Luke Murphy and pulls the trigger with greater accuracy. Castro’s greater ‘shots’ figures per 90 for both his seasons (2012/13 – 2.34; 2013/14 –  1.88) is much more than the shots per 90 mark of Luke Murphy from his 2013/14 Championship campaign (1.07). Also of note, Castro prefers to get into the opposition 18 yd area to take his shots at goal and this returns ‘inside vs outside’ shot ratios of 0.57 (2012/13) and 0.66 (2013/14) vs Luke Murphy’s 2013/14 ‘inside vs outside’ shot ratio of 0.25. Castro’s willingness or skill to be in shooting positions inside the area accounts for his superior shot accuracy over that returned by Luke Murphy.

So, it’s a bit of a mixed bag really if Leeds are to sign Lucas Castro. They are remarkably similar in their passing comparisons; each one possessing strengths the other lacks but Lucas Castro does show a high proportion of passes in the final third of the field. However, it is shooting that seems to set both players apart with Lucas Castro returning much more significant figures than those of  Luke Murphy.

If Leeds are going to bring a player in to address current weak areas, then Lucas Castro does certainly fit the bill.