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The Curious Case of Ángel Correa

Without doubt one of Atleti’s finest talents, Ángel Correa has yet to make a significant step forward this season, but, are we on the verge of a breakout?

Club Atletico de Madrid v CD Guijuelo - Copa del Rey Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

The 2016-17 Atlético Madrid season has been somewhat of a mixed bag thus far, with the team romping through the Champions League group stage, but effectively being confined to the race for top-four in La Liga in the process. Initially, it seemed like Diego Simeone would maintain a new, swashbuckling attacking style, which was very good to watch but following some poor results in the league, this was canned.

Following the return to the more defensive version of Simeone’s style, some poor results still remained, and the attackers suffered the most, Griezmann being the most notable, going on a fairly lengthy dry spell. And in a team that suffered from too little scoring, curiously Ángel Correa remained one of the odd men out.

Since signing in 2014, Correa has scored 13 times in all competitions for Atlético in 56 appearances. In La Liga this year, he has already equaled his assist total from last season, with four. The most interesting statistic for Correa is his shot accuracy, with a 69% rate from 13 shots (excluding blocked shots). This number puts him ahead of Griezmann, Carrasco, Gameiro and Gaitán, giving him the highest in the club among attackers.

Granted, he has taken less shots than many of his teammates this season, playing a full 90 minutes in La Liga twice. However, he ranks fourth in total shots taken by Atleti players, though the gap between him and the top three (Griezmann, Carrasco, Gameiro) is significant. Ángel Correa finds himself joint-top with Griezmann in terms of shots taken in the six yard box per 90 minutes at 0.4, indicative of his potential as a central striker.

Interestingly, in terms of passing, Correa’s stats are good there as well, ranking fourth in total key passes per 90, and averaging the same number of short key passes per 90 as Koke, which is very promising.

Given some of these underlying statistics to Correa’s game, if given enough minutes, there could be potential for Ángel to contribute significantly to this Atlético Madrid side. All these stats plus his obviously great fitness and athleticism can make him extremely dangerous to La Liga sides, as well as in the Champions League.

The strike partnership at Atleti has been a somewhat concerning issue this season, Gameiro and Griezmann started strong, but faded as the season went along. Torres is still there doing his thing, but outside of those three, Correa is really the only other recognized striker. One issue could come from his play style of trying to run in behind the backline, so a potential partnership with Griezmann may be redundant, but with Gameiro or Torres, there could be something there.

A consistent issue with this team is the overplaying of Antoine Griezmann, and given the similarities in his and Correa’s game, Correa could be an ideal player to take over in games when Griezmann is tired or injured. While Correa has been mainly used as a wide midfielder this season, long term his home should be as a central striker, and he is more likely to play as a striker, given the depth on the wings at Atleti.