Speculation linking Juventus left-back Alex Sandro to Manchester United has been gaining serious traction in recent weeks and it might not be long before we see the Brazilian defender in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to bolster his full-back armoury with converted wingers Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia edging closer to their twilight years.
Porto’s 19-year-old right-back Diogo Dalot has already been recruited by the Portuguese tactician, and Sandro could soon follow him through the door as the Red Devils look to put up a serious title challenge in an effort to dethrone the blue half of Manchester next season.
Sandro has acclimatised to Serie A football immensely since joining the Old Lady from Porto in 2015, as his technical proficiency on the ball and tenacious workrate embody the Massimiliano Allegri philosophy in Turin.
With that being said, the 27-year-old could prove to be an astute acquisition for Mourinho, but how does he compare to the Premier League’s best left-backs?
Deployed as a wing-back in Chelsea’s 3-5-1-1 formation, Alonso has license to thrust forward down the left and assist his teammates in the final third. A dead-ball specialist, the Spaniard is renowned in west London for his propensity to score stunning goals, and not just from free-kicks such is his versatility.
Defensively Alonso completed the fourth-highest number of tackles in the Premier League of any left-back with 49, while Sandro could only rank eighth in Serie A from left-back albeit it with 49 as well, but with a better success rate (75%) compared to Alonso (70%). The archetypal modern full-back must be an accomplished dribbler, and Sandro epitomises this as he enjoyed 44 successful dribbles last term compared to Alonso’s 16.
In terms of assists and chances created, Sandro registered four and created 25 while Alonso could only muster two assists but he did create a credible 34 chances. One further point is Alonso’ aerial threat, at 6ft 2in the Spanish full-back has a serious height advantage over Sandro, and he successfully won 61 headers last season compared to Sandro’s 38.
On the periphery of first-team action at the start of the season, Robertson burst onto the scene after an injury to Alberto Moreno and he acquitted himself expertly in Liverpool’s starting XI from there. His relentless running and dogged style of play is brilliantly tailored to suit Jurgen Klopp’s high-octane brand of football.
The Scottish defender likes to get stuck in, but despite playing more minutes at left-back than Sandro, he could only muster 31 tackles (with a 68% success rate) to the aforementioned 49 of Sandro (75% success rate), while the Juve full-back also intercepted the ball on 27 occasions to Robertson’s 26.
Further forward the Scot created fewer chances (21) than Sandro, although his five assists was the second-highest tally of any Premier League left-back.
With the recent form of Davies, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino will be having a managerial headache trying to accommodate both the Welsh full-back and the once highly-coveted Danny Rose. Unfortunately for the England defender, Davies has been insatiable since making the left-back berth his own.
In comparison to Sandro, there is not much to split the two defenders with Davies just two completed tackles shy of the Brazilian. One noteworthy point is the Turin defender’s foul count with 44 committed compared to Davies’ 24, which could pose a considerable problem for Mourinho in terms of conceding free-kicks in dangerous positions.
The Welshamn flourishes in the final third and completely trumps his South American counterpart in an attacking sense, registering the most assists of any left-back in the Premier League with six (to Sandro’s four), while further creating a staggering 47 chances to Sandro’s 27.
Mourinho is perhaps taking a leaf out of Pep Guardiola’s book by strengthening his full-back options. The Catalan coach quickly identified, after his first season at the Etihad, that the ageing legs of Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta would not allow his high-press system to thrive – step up Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker.
It is a shame the former Monaco man endured a season on the sidelines, but the 23-year-old is guaranteed to make headways next season. Known for being a ruthless tackler, Mendy averaged 52.75 tackles a season during his four-year stint in Ligue 1, as well as averaging 30 chances created, which would place the French full-back above Sandro’s tallies from last season in a defensive and attacking perspective.
Unlucky to have been left out of Gareth Southgate’s final 23-man England squad for the World Cup, Bertrand – a former Champions League winner – has been an ever-present in the Premier League since making a breakthrough in the Chelsea team six years ago.
The 28-year-old is the very definition of a modern full-back, combining a high defensive work rate with an ability to surge forward. Bertrand won the fifth-highest number of tackles of any left-back in the league last term with 48, just one below Alonso, one above Sandro and also one above Davies, ranking all three left-backs in close proximity.
The Saints man is more at home further forward as he created 36 chances last term – nine more than Sandro – and equalled the Juve defender for assists with four.
The Leeds graduate was once irreplaceable in north London, and Pochettino would have been sweating after Manchester United declared an interest in the Englishman. Injuries have since derailed the 28-year-old’s progress, however, athough when fit he is still one of the best full-backs in the league.
For the past six seasons in the left-back role Rose has averaged 53.5 successful tackles, which incidentally places him above Davies’ tally for last season, while further sitting him above Sandro. However, Rose has only averaged 18 chances created a season from left-back, albeit from only playing nine matches last campaign.
With injury problems and a lack of first-team action at White Hart Lane, Mourinho would be wise to swoop for Sandro rather than reignite his interest in the Tottenham man.