West Ham have confirmed the signing of centre-back Goncalo Cardoso from Boavista. The 18-year-old joins the club on a five-year deal, with the option of a further year.
The Portuguese Under 19 international has only made 18 senior appearances in his career so far and won’t be well known to many people in the UK. During his first interview, the defender described what type of player Hammers fans can expect:
“I’m an aggressive player, a little bit different on the pitch than off it. I’m calm, and I like to have the ball and build the game from the back. I’m here to work and to help the team reach their goals.”
Here are a few more things about Cardoso you may not know:
1) He is Aggressive (A Bit Too Aggressive)
Cardoso describes himself as an “aggressive” defender and that is borne out in the statistics. During his debut season at Boavista, he averaged 1.42 fouls per 90 minutes, according to Wyscout.
To put that into context, Issa Diop averaged just 0.57 fouls per game last campaign, with Fabian Balbuena averaging slightly more at 0.8, meaning the teenager fouls an opponent twice as often as his new West Ham teammates.
Cardoso will need to learn that he doesn’t need to win the ball in every duel with an opponent.
2) Cardoso is strong in the air
Despite being only 18, Cardoso is already 6ft 2in tall and is very capable in the air. Last season, he averaged 5.97 aerial duels per 90 minutes, which was higher than Diop, Balbuena and Ogbonna.
He wins 53% of his headers, which is better Balbuena (44%) but is slightly worse than Diop (60%) and Ogbonna (61%). It seems as though he will have the right physical attributes to make it in the Premier League.
3) He needs to improve his tackling
Cardoso’s foul count provides a hint that his tackling isn’t particularly great at the moment. He won just 16% of his tackles last season. Compare that with Diop’s 37% and Balbuena’s 45% and it shows the youngster still has a way to go to improve his defensive attributes.
He is still young so he has time to improve, but better decision making will be needed to win more tackles and commit fewer fouls.
4) Cardoso is left-footed
It’s always good to have a good balance between left and right-footed centre-backs. Currently, Ogbonna is the only other left-sided centre-half in the squad, and the Portuguese youth international can provide the team with a different, younger option to the Italian.
Supporters will be hoping that he can develop his game to the point where he can become Issa Diop’s long-term centre-back partner, but he is still a raw talent, as the stats above show.