This week a former Athletic striker with more than 445 matches played in La Liga, Ismael Urzaiz, stated that Aritz Aduriz has been the club’s player “with more impact in this century”. At Driblab we are not going to discuss that phrase, but we want to go deeper into this figure who has given so much to talk about in Spanish football in the last decade. Although it took him a while to explode, Aduriz had good goalscoring figures in all the teams he played for. And he has performed at a very high level up to the age of 36 or 37. But what was his real zenith? What was the best season of his career?
If we talk about offensive production, there is no doubt that the most prolific campaign of the forward was 2015/16. By volume of shots (119) and by the effectiveness he had in them. It’s true that in some other seasons, such as 2014/15, he shot more times for 90 minutes and averaged a slightly higher number of expected goals (0.52) than that year (0.50). But for completion purposes there is no comparison. That year Aduriz scored 27 goals (excluding penalties) with shooting situations which accumulated 21.6 xG.
As we can see on the shooting map on the left, Aduriz selected his attempts well, which had an average probability of 0.18 xG. In addition, he stood out for generating chances for other team-mates. If during the eight years of his second stage at Athletic he has contributed very little in this sense, with only 0.57 open play key passes per 90 minutes, in 2015/16 he generated 0.84, which placed him above the average of the position. He finished with 6.9 expected assists (xA); averaging 0.16 in every 90 minutes.
Aduriz was a key player in the team designed by Ernesto Valverde, which got a ticket for European competitions three times in four seasons. One of the reasons why he was so important was his strength in the aerial game. We’re talking about a forward who has always excelled in this aspect, with percentages almost always above 50%. In 2015/16, Aduriz won 55.4% of the 352 aerial disputes in which he took part. Historically, Athletic has always had very strong forwards at these tasks, with whom they could use long balls and force second plays.
Aduriz was important to his club for many things, but above all for his constant influence on the final metres. Since his return to Athletic in 2012 he has averaged 5.22 touches in the opposite box and 0.44 goals per 90 minutes (excluding penalties). And in the season we are analyzing these were 5.54 touches in the opposite box and 0.50 goals, respectively.
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