Could Rayo Vallecano centre-forward Joaquin Larrivey emulate Swansea City deep-lying forward Michu's success in the Premier League? Here is a scouting report on Larrivey, a 29-year-old Argentine No. 9.
Larrivey's physical tangibles are similar to Michu.
They have comparable traits: Hardworking, physical, opportunistic and wily late-bloomers.
Also, they share the same simplistic playing style: Capitalising on sloppy positioning from opposing defenders to poach goals.
Larrivey's off-the-ball running is exemplary, so it tells you his positional awareness is excellent.
That skill is perfectly complemented by his exceptional heading—he once scored a hat-trick of headers for Cagliari in a 6-3 defeat to Napoli in 2012—as he is aggressive in the air and throws himself at crosses. Here are a few examples of his heading ability:
Larrivey jumped high to forcefully head a Roberto Trashorras cross past Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas during Rayo's 2-1 loss.
In Rayo's 2-0 win over Celta Vigo, Larrivey was the benefactor of a cross from Rayo substitute Adrian Embarba.
Larrivey took advantage of an Atletico Madrid defensive breakdown to net a header in Rayo's 4-2 defeat.
Another headed goal occurred when none of the Valencia players picked up Larrivey and he nodded home a cross from Rayo left-back Razvan Rat during the club's 1-0 win.
In Rayo's 3-2 win over Real Sociedad, Larrivey won a penalty (which he converted) after being tripped by Sociedad left-back Jose Angel as he got in front of the defender.
Larrivey has also shown signs he can contribute in the team's build-up play, but his passing is still a work in progress:
In this instance he dropped deep, received the ball and made an effortless cross-field pass to Embarba during Rayo's 2-0 win over Celta.
Larrivey is not just a cumbersome centre-forward given that he backheeled Rayo left-back Nacho's pass into the path of Iago Falque.
Larrivey held up the ball against Atleti centre-back Miranda, played the ball to Trashorras, who teed Jonathan Viera up for a goal in Rayo's 4-2 defeat to Atleti.
Larrivey is a one-dimensional player, who is a passenger when crosses are not put into the box, as he has yet to score a league goal from open-play.
Here is a split up of his six goals in La Liga, per Squawka: Four headers and two right-footed penalties (Rayo's 3-2 win over Sociedad and 4-1 win over Malaga).
He does not take on players (0.1 dribbles per game) and he is a liability with a 67.6 pass completion percentage in Rayo manager Paco Jemez's pass-orientated philosophy (Rayo have the third highest possession per game average; 59.3).
This is why Larrivey has been in and out of Paco's starting XI: Larrivey has started 54.2 percent of La Liga games this season.
It remains to be seen if Larrivey's recent hot form is a blip or a trend.
Now back in one of Europe's elite leagues, Larrivey is demonstrating that he is La Liga-standard, however his playing style is more suited to the Premier League or the Championship.
If Michu can score 22 goals in his debut season for Swansea (18 in the Premier League), modest English clubs with a cross-centric modus operandi should consider signing Larrivey in the summer transfer window.
Statistics via WhoScored
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