Prospecting the Prospects: Guido Carillo

This is our “prospecting the prospects” series, where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game as the transfer window newcomers arrive. This series analyses a selection of these newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using the season’s stats so far (wherever they played) as if they had been in FPL, then providing our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the coming period. We have already looked at Cenk Tosun during the January transfer window.

In this article, our writer Ed (a Saints fan) runs the rule over the newcomer. We have already looked at Cenk TosunAymeric Laporte and Aubameyang during the January transfer window. Article on Lucas Moura forthcoming.

On 25th January, Argentinian striker Guido Carillo signed for Southampton in a deal reportedly worth £19million.

The number 9 is priced at 6.5 in FPL.

After splashing out a club record to secure his services, Carillo arrives at Southampton with a clear role to fulfil. The struggling Saints – who still sit in the relegation zone – have once again been woefully deficient in the goalscoring department, having averaged exactly 1 goal per game this campaign.

With the new forward expected to slot in as the lone target man (displacing the rotation of Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini), will Carillo (priced at 6.5 in FPL) prove a saviour for the Saints, and emerge as a meaningful fantasy asset over the final third of the season?

Prospecting the prospects

Due to a lack of game time, Ed has written this piece using available stats to report on Carillo’s potential.

Carillo, who began his career under the tutelage of current Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino at Estudiantes, presents an interesting departure from the Saints current striking options.

In Long, Southampton possess a leggy pace man capable of stretching defences both vertically and horizontally; whilst Gabbiadini serves more as a box-bound poacher, whose play is often predicated on reacting to defensive errors. Carillo, meanwhile, is a definitive target man in the most traditional sense; tall and deceptively strong for his frame, the Argentine excels at outmuscling defenders for position, and thrives in the air.

At Monaco, his link up play with prominent playmaker Thomas Lemar stands out as being particularly impressive. At the centrepiece of the attack, Carillo would often find himself dropping deeper to pick up long balls; using his strength and hold-up play to lay on passes for deeper runners – most frequently Lemar – behind him.  This was particularly the case from goal kicks and set-pieces, where Carillo was typically used as the first pivot man, picked out by long balls and given the responsibility of flicking onward passes towards more mobile runners in behind the defence.

As a result, Carillo has often sacrificed the role of first-choice goalscorer. When utilised in such a direct manner, Carillo seems heavily dependent: generally relying upon his teammates to put him into goalscoring positions, as opposed to the Argentine generating chances of his own volition. Though his acceleration is not poor, Carillo lacks the top end pace to scare Premier League defenders in one-on-one positions, and seems unlikely to find himself frequently running at defenders from deep.

At Monaco, Carillo’s strike rate has been superficially impressive: despite starting just 7 matches over the past two seasons, Carillo has racked up 11 goals in 1002 league minutes. Though this strike rate of a goal per 91.1 minutes bests the league-leading marks set by Harry Kane (93.2) and Sergio Aguero (94.9), such a number should be taken with a grain of salt – with Carillo having starred in a free-scoring side, enjoying the majority of his minutes playing against opponents chasing a late-game deficit.

Indeed, though his strike rate is eye-catching, Carillo seems far from a natural finisher with the ball at his feet. The forward appears prone to taking an extra touch in an around the box, and lacks the crisp ball-striking skills needed to excel against Premier League defences. His passing play also appears loose at times, particularly with his weaker foot.

With the ball in the air, however, Carillo is a different beast entirely. His aerial skills appear hugely impressive, and it is here that Saints fans will hope to see their new signing dominate opponents. All four of Carillo’s goals for Monaco this season have been headed, and his instincts for anticipating the high point of long balls and crosses appears almost supernatural at times. Carillo’s headed play frequently terrorised defenders in Ligue 1, particularly from set pieces; an observation that will be music to the ears of Southampton’s dead ball experts.

The prospects

It is the partnership that Carillo can forge with the Saints playmakers that will dictate his Premier League – and FPL – value. In Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse, Southampton possess two players capable of unpicking defences – the former from open play, the latter more so from dead ball situations. Indeed, as the mastermind behind Southampton’s corners and set pieces, Ward-Prowse looks particularly primed to enjoy the presence of Carillo.

The two players who might see their fantasy stock raised most by Carillo’s signing, however, may be full-backs Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares. This duo have fired in more than 150 crosses between them already this campaign (78 apiece) – both ranking in the top 10 for crosses from defenders. Though Bertrand has been the more prolific of the two – generating 22 goalscoring chances from his deliveries, as opposed to the 12 produced by Cedric – both appear strong bets to benefit from the presence of a true target man.

Interestingly from an FPL perspective, both players have now experienced significant price drops: Bertrand now sits at 5.3, and Cedric has fallen to just 4.7. With a massively appealing schedule from a defensive perspective (the Saints next two matches are against Brighton and West Brom, and they face Burnley, Stoke, Newcastle and Swansea from gameweeks 28-31), it is here that we would recommend investment as a means of benefitting from Carillo’s presence.

With such a limited resume, the profiling of Carillo remains tough. Though some have compared the newly-arrived forward to former Saints standout Graziano Pelle, the Italian was a far more accomplished player of the ball on the ground. Pelle, however, lacked the positional instincts of Carillo in the aerial game, and was miscast in such a role for the Saints. Rather, as an archetypal pivot forward with strong aerial skills but limited finishing chops, Carillo appears at first glance to be most reminiscent of a (more technically limited) Alvaro Morata; though whether the Argentine can match the early Premier League success of his PL rival remains to be seen.

As for the upcoming fixtures, it will remain to be seen whether Carillo can attract our interest as a third striker. The two immediately good fixtures mentioned in Brighton and WBA might be too soon for the Argentine, but if he does hit the ground running he could perhaps function as a good alternative pick during Gameweeks 28-32 (prior to possibly wildcarding after if you still have that available). However, decent concurrent runs for similar cheap striker such as Callum Wilson at Bournemouth – who is also 0.7 cheaper – could curtail his appeal even then.

Much does depend on him hitting the ground running, though: it may be that he’s one to monitor for the rest of this season and then think about at the beginning of the next. We need more data, basically, meaning that we will have to sit on the fence when it comes to the final rating.

In isolation, then, he may be a bit of a risk, but the fact he could elevate the prospects of other Saints assets in Cedric and Bertrand may the real impact he has for the remainder of this season.  This is especially true if we end up looking for defensive bargains in the light of expensive frontline assets (e.g. Alexis Sanchez) re-emerging.

Overall rating: 2.5 / 5 – An average prospect for FPL 

*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent