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Statistical comparison: How does Angel Di Maria fare against Dembele and Raphinha



Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

With Barcelona set to lose out on Ousmane Dembele at the end of the month, they are on the lookout for a replacement for the 25-year-old.

Contract talks with the Frenchman have led to nowhere and the club have grown fed up with the forward and are planning for the future without him. Replacements have been lined up already, with Leeds United’s Raphinha emerging as the priority target.

However, with the Brazilian international proving to be expensive, Barça have also cast their sights on Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria. The 34-year-old is set to become a free agent imminently and would be a financially feasible signing for the Blaugrana.

The Argentine international has proven himself in Spain before during his stint at Real Madrid and his experience and winning mentality can have a positive effect on the young players within the squad.

However, at 34, whether Di Maria can deliver at the same level as Dembele or Raphinha remains the question. A closer look at the statistics of the three players from the 2021/22 campaign may provide an indicator.

Goals and assists

Raphinha scored the most number of league goals among the trio last season, having netted 11 times from 35 league outings. Dembele netted just once in 21 games – the Frenchman missed the majority of the first half of the season due to injury, while Di Maria scored five in 26 Ligue 1 matches.

Dembele, though, dominates the assists list, setting up 13 goals in La Liga, while Di Maria comes in second with seven and Raphinha created three goals for his teammates.

Given the way Leeds United set up, Raphinha operated as their chief goal threat, which reflects in his tally of 2.5 shots per game. Meanwhile, Dembele and Di Maria are not far behind, averaging 2.2 and 2 shots per game in their respective leagues.

A non-penalty xG (npxG) value of 8.2 for Raphinha indicates that he performed exceedingly well in front of goal, netting 11 times. As for Dembele, his npxG stood at 2.8, while he scored just once, whereas Di Maria’s npxG was 5.8, with the Argentine scoring five.

Chance creation and passing

Dembele may have had the most assists among the trio, but the Frenchman played the least number of key passes (46), which is understandable given his lesser game-time. Raphinha had the highest number of key passes with 65 while Di Maria posted an impressive 55 key passes.

Shot Creating Actions (SCA) and Goal Creating Actions (GCA) are good indicators of the effectiveness of an attacker in the final third.

PlayerSCA per 90GCA per 90Completed passes into the opposition box
Angel Di Maria5.200.7148
Ousmane Dembele5.261.0242

As can be gleaned from the table, Di Maria has fared almost nearly as good as Dembele, who was one of the best chance-creators in La Liga for the second half of the 2021/22 season. The Argentine also posted impressive numbers for passes into the opposition box, indicating his ability to find a teammate in a dangerous position.

On the ball

Dembele is a player known for his pace and dribbling ability and anyone replacing him will need to have those attributes, especially in the way Xavi uses the winger in his system.

Dembele completed 62% of his dribbles (57 of 92) last season. Di Maria, again almost matched him with a 60.7% dribble success rate (37 of 61). Raphinha, meanwhile, attempted many more dribbles than the pair but posted a completion rate of just 39.6 (59 of 149).

Di Maria also made 65 carries into the final third of the pitch, with Dembele posting 70 and Raphinha finishing with 36. The Argentine was also dispossessed the second least among the trio (27), behind Dembele (23) with Raphinha losing the ball 52 times.

Defensive actions

When it comes to the defensive actions, Raphinha comes out on top with flying colours over Di Maria and Dembele, although it has plenty to do with the way Leeds operated.

The Brazilian posted very impressive off-the-ball numbers, making 97 tackles and interceptions in 2021/22, while Dembele and Di Maria managed 39 and 48, respectively.

Barcelona’s style requires the players to press the opposition high up the pitch to win the ball back quickly. And, Raphinha excelled in that aspect last season, racking up 193 pressures in the attacking third of the pitch, compared to Dembele’s 85 and Di Maria’s 139.


Di Maria might not be a spring chicken anymore and would not be a long-term solution by any means. But judging by the numbers he posted last season, the Argentine has the ability to be a solid addition for Barcelona.

The Argentine did fairly well in front of goal and excelled in the chance-creating aspects when on the ball. At the same time, he also acquitted him well enough when not in possession.

Stats Courtesy: FB Ref

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