Gonzalo Montiel is one of the players who has evolved the most under Marcelo Gallardo at River Plate. He has already caught the attention of several teams, including some notable ones in Europe, with his performances in the Argentinian Superliga, and at 23 years of age, his best years are probably still ahead of him. A transfer looks almost certain pretty soon, and so River Plate will need to plan ahead and scout for his replacements.

So, in this data analysis, we are going to try and look at the data to come up with a list of players who could potentially replace Montiel if he was to leave the Monumental.

The role of Gonzalo Montiel at River Plate

As we can see in the image, Gonzalo Montiel has a very important role in River Plate’s tactics, since when playing with a 3-5-2 system he is the only player who covers the right side of the pitch, as the wing-back.

Montiel

The possibility of playing with three defenders gives Montiel more freedom to constantly attack. This role that Montiel plays makes him a fundamental piece in Gallardo’s tactics since the offensive game of River Plate is usually played on Montiel’s side.
His position on the field of play can be as an auxiliary winger at times, as he positions himself very high up the pitch.

Montiel

As we can see in this analysis, Montiel is of great importance to the offensive game of River Plate, as he allows them to stretch the play while the team moves forward through passing combinations in central areas. This stretches the opposition’s defensive line as well and creates more space in the centre. Montiel’s impact can be seen by the fact that he has notched three assists so far this season, and also has the most crosses of any River Plate player, illustrating his attacking role in the side.

Defensive role

Although with River Plate, he can be seen attacking for most of the game, his defensive output is just as good. If we review the stats of the current season, River Plate are one of the teams with the fewest goals conceded with 18 goals conceded in 23 games, while their xG against is also the lowest at 20.3 expected goals conceded

Gonzalo Montiel’s role in this phase of the game is essential since he gets back to defend his flank, and is extremely successful at that as shown by his defensive duel success rate of 70.2%, which is one of the highest for full-backs in the Argentinian Super League. However, Montiel is not only effective when his team are in a low block, but also during moments of transition as well as when pressing high up the pitch – he often prevents the opposition from playing the ball quickly into dangerous areas.

Parameters to analyse

Seeing these characteristics of Montiel, we will now narrow down some of the characteristics his replacement must have in the form of certain key statistics, to show who could potentially be the best fit at River Plate.

Therefore these parameters are divided from offensive to defensive.
– Passes per 90 and its % accuracy
– Forward passes per 90 and its % accuracy
– Crosses per 90 and its % accuracy
– Offensive duels per 90 and its % accuracy

From the defensive point-of-view, these parameters were taken into account:
– Defensive duels per 90 minutes and their % accuracy
– Aerial duels per 90 minutes and their % accuracy
– Interceptions per 90 minutes and their effectiveness in defensive actions per 90 minutes

After carrying out the data analysis we see that five players come closest to Montiel’s profile – Fabricio Bustos, Nazareno Colombo, Ángelo Gabrielli, Tomás Guidara and Alex Vigo

Another thing to add is that this analysis was carried out only on the right-backs in the Argentine league that have played at least 10 games in order to find more accurate data.

Passes per 90 and its % accuracy

Montiel

The River Plate style of play is characterized by being an aggressive style, where the team seeks to be the protagonist and be dominant in the game. River usually dominate possession, so having players with a high rate of accurate passes is important.

Taking Montiel as the base reference, he has 43.8 passes per 90 minutes and 78.4% success rate, making him an offensive player who is very important to the team.

As seen in this data analysis, Colombo, the right-back of Estudiantes de la Plata, with 47.6 passes per 90 minutes and 81.0% of accuracy, along with Bustos, the right-back of Independiente, with 50.0 passes per 90 minutes and a 78.9% accuracy, come closest to Montiel in this regard, actually doing better than him on both metrics, although Guidara, Velez’s right-back, approaches Montiel’s stats in terms of accuracy of passes (78.0%) but with a smaller number of passes per 90 minutes (31.7).

Forward passes per 90 and its % accuracy

Montiel

Looking at forward passes per 90, we see that Montiel’s stats drop significantly, while
Colombo and Bustos continue to remain as the players with the most quantity and accuracy.
Tomas Guidara has a number of passes forward per 90 minutes similar to Montiel, but his accuracy is higher (66.4%)

Crosses per 90 and its % accuracy

Montiel

As previously described, Montiel is vital to River’s attack due to his wide positioning. Most River Plate attacks end on the right side since from here Gonzalo Montiel ends the attack with crosses. Per 90 minutes he takes 1.82 crosses with an accuracy of 27.8%.

Players with a similar profile in the end zone, Gabrielli, right-back of Newell`s Old Boys, has the best stats in the Argentine league with an average of 4.8 crosses per 90 minutes and an accuracy of 31.2%. Guidara shows similar stats to Montiel, with 1.6 crosses per 90 minutes and an accuracy of 30.8%.

Offensive duels per 90 and its % accuracy

Montiel

With these statistics, one of Montiel’s weaknesses is demonstrated, which is offensive duels. Having a high win rate is essential for a player of his characteristics since it could provide him with more variety when it comes to contributing to attacks, since he only limits himself to crossing, at the moment. A good alternative, purely based on this metric alone,  could be Colombo.

Defensive duels for 90 minutes and their accuracy

Montiel

Given that River dominate most matches, their defenders get into far fewer duels than those of other teams, which must be kept in mind when looking at these numbers.

Taking this into account, River Plate players must have a high% accuracy of defensive actions, and Montiel fulfils this by having 6.0 defensive duels per 90 minutes and his accuracy is 70.2%.

While these stats make him one of the best right-backs in the league, Guiadara in this respect is very similar having 9.4 defensive duels per 90 minutes, with 72.5% accuracy.

Aerial duels for 90 minutes and their accuracy

Montiel

Having a good success rate for aerial duels is important for any defender, and more so for River who face a lot of teams which play a direct style of football. Montiel is not the best at this metric, with only a 47.3% win rate. Guidara, of Velez Sarfield has an average of 3.7 aerials duels per 90 minutes, with a success rate of 67.8%, which makes him the most accurate right-back in the league in this regard. Gabrielli has the same average of aerial duels for 90 minutes with a 46.8% win rate, very similar to Montiel’s stats.

Interceptions per 90 minutes and effectiveness in defensive actions per 90 minutes

Montiel

 

For the last metric, we looked at interceptions and successful defensive actions per 90 minutes.

As can be seen in the graph, Montiel is surpassed by Colombo with 5.3 interceptions per 90 minutes and 9.5 success def per 90 minutes. Fabricio Bustos with 5.5 interceptions and 8.4 success def for 90 minutes and Vigo with 5.5 interceptions and 10.1 success def for 90 minutes.

Conclusion

Throughout this data analysis, the aim was to compare the main stats that a possible replacement must do well in to fill the role that Montiel plays for River Plate, if he was to leave. Through this analysis, we were able to identify five possible signings to replace him and imagining three possible ways of acting for River Plate.

In the event that River Plate seeks to sign players with a great current performance and characteristics similar to those of Montiel, they should try to sign Bustos or Guidara.

Both footballers showed very similar stats – in the case of Bustos, the right-back of Independiente who was born on April 28, 1996, a couple of seasons ago he consolidated his place in the Independiente team, so he has enough experience to move to River Plate. In his favour is the fact that the style of play between River Plate and Independiente is quite similar.
In the case of Guidara, the right-back of Veléz Sarfield who was born on March 13, 1996, his career has been growing since he has been at Veléz Sarfield since 2019 and his adaptation was spectacular, transforming him into one of the most offensive right-backs of the league.

On the contrary, if River Plate want to move for someone with experience, Gabrielli is a good option.

Another situation that may occur is that they seek to sign a young promising talent with great potential. In this case, Colombo and Alex Vigo would be the best options.
Colombo, the 21-year-old right-back has national team experience and is currently part of the Argentine U-23 team.

Once football returns, it is almost certain that Montiel will leave,  with West Ham, Roma and Real Betis being named as just a few of his suitors. River Plate must figure out a way to replace Gonzalo Montiel, and based on the approach they want to take, any of these five options could be a good solution.