Rodrigo De Paul appeared set to join Leeds last summer, before a high asking price from Udinese scuppered the move. Now, six months later, the 26-year-old is back in the news – this time linked with defending Premier League champions Liverpool.
The Argentina international has spent the past four-and-a-half seasons as Udinese’s attacking linchpin between mid-table and relegation. His name is never far from the lips of those living within the borders of Friuli, but de Paul can be something of an unknown.
Here’s what you need to know about it.
DePaul suffered an early setback on his debut for Valencia/Biel Elino/Getty Images.
Go ahead of Jonathan Woodgate, DePaul could hold the record for the worst debut hitting streak of his career.
In his first league outings for Argentine club Racing and Serie A side Udinese, DePaul’s side suffered 3–0 and 4–0 defeats respectively. Nevertheless, those defeats paled in comparison to his disastrous debut for Valencia. DePaul’s debut lasted just 63 seconds as he was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Sevilla’s Aleix Vidal after a second-half substitution.
If he moves to the Premier League, don’t expect him to hit the ground running.
De Paul has scored 17 Serie A goals from open play for Udinese, more than half coming from outside the box / Alessandro Sabatini/Getty Images
At 18, DePaul had already stumbled upon his own party trick. In his second start for Racing (which was much better than his first appearance), De Paul cut inside his right foot, and behind the outstretched arms of the helpless San Martin de San Juan goalkeeper. Ripped off a quick effort.
Perhaps this successful effort reinforced the idea in DePaul’s mind that he had the ability (and the right) to take aim from wherever he saw fit.
Nevertheless, this hair-trigger shooting style has seen him hit nine league goals from outside the box for Udinese despite the expected goal return for those long-range efforts being around five. Basically that means DePaul scored four more goals than the average player based on his opportunities outside the area.
Of De Paul’s 24 league goals in La Liga and Serie A, only one has been scored with his left foot.
As we’ve established, DePaul doesn’t shy away from even the slimmest chance to pull the trigger. However, those attempts have always come from his favored right boot – of the shots DePaul has hit with his left boot over the last six years (more than 300) in European league football, according to Understate. Is.
Similarly, StatsBomb’s Footedness metric shows that DePaul finds teammates using his strong right foot 96% of the time. Only eight outfield players in Europe’s top five leagues recorded a higher ratio last season.
DePaul doesn’t contest many aerial balls, but he’s largely unsuccessful when he does / Sylvia Lore / Getty Images
Standing between 5’10 and 5’11, De Paul – who began his career on the flanks but was deployed almost exclusively as one of three central midfielders in the 3-5-2 last season was – hardly the smallest player in his position.
However, while he has many other strengths – set pieces, chance creation, long-range shooting (obviously) – DePaul’s ability off the floor is sorely lacking. Argentina only won two aerial matches last season with a disappointing 15% success rate.
Rodrigo De Paul got into racing at the age of eight after tagging along with a friend who wanted to join / Rodrigo Valle/Getty Images
During his playing days at Racing, DePaul spent much of his free time visiting his former youth team Deportivo Belgrano, imparting some of his experience on the 12- to 16-year-olds when he himself He was also a teenager.
Paul told Argentine publication El Grafico: “I go often, I want to be able to share with the boys and teach them something.”
Leeds have the youngest team in the Premier League with an average age of 24.7. Along with making an impact on the field, the 27-year-old DePaul could be able to help out some of the younger members of the squad.
*Statistics correct for the start of the 2020/21 season.