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Piero Hincapié: Bayer Leverkusen Add Further Value To Defensive Core

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 16, 2021

“We have specific profiles for each position,” Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said at a media roundtable last Wednesday. “Then we check from the data. But we also use videos. Then we say: ‘Okay, which player could be interesting for us and what was their speed.’ But of course, you don’t need speed for each position, so we have a ranking area for each position, and then we check availability, and then we scout the player.” One player that caught the eyes of Leverkusen scouts some time ago is Ecuadorian defender Piero Hincapié.

On Monday, Leverkusen announced that they had signed Hincapié from the Argentine side CA Talleres. According to Transfermarkt, the defender joins in a deal worth $8.8 million. In Piero Hincapié, we have signed a young, exciting defender and confident defender, who has already collected international experience,” Rolfes said in a club statement on Monday. “Of course, we have scouted him for some time. His performances against world-class players at the Copa América stood out. We believe that Piero has a very promising future ahead of him.”

Hincapié is unlikely to be the last signing. Sources suggested that the club is also in advanced talks with Union Berlin to sign Robert Andrich. But while Andrich is supposed to add significant experience in midfield, Hincapié joins a young and extremely talented defensive line. In the currently injured Edmond Tapsoba, Leverkusen already had one of the most exciting center-backs in the world on the books—the 22-year-old was heavily linked to Chelsea in the summer, but Die Werkself’s demands of €80 million were considered too steep. The Bundesliga club also added Odilon Kossounou from Club Brugge in a deal that cost Leverkusen up to $33 million, including bonuses. 

“It is a great feeling for me that a club like Bayer 04 Leverkusen tried so hard for me,” Hincapié said in a club statement. The Bundesliga and Bayer 04 have an excellent reputation in my home country and throughout South America.” Indeed, Leverkusen has long been considered the first destination for many South American players who want to break into the European market. 

That reputation likely helped Leverkusen to sign Hincapié. The Ecuadorian played himself in the notebooks of scouts of several European top clubs at the Copa América this summer. There Hincapié played in all five of Ecuador’s games and, despite a red card in the quarterfinal against Argentina, was one of the tournament standouts. 

The 19-year-old, who primarily plays as a left-center-back, ranked highly in several defensive categories throughout the tournament. Hincapié was fourth among all players at the tournament when it came to blocked shots and 12th when it came to total interceptions (28). Hincapié, however, was not just signed for his defensive qualities alone. The defender also ranked second with 68 progressive passes played. Together with Thiago Silva, Hincapié also completed the most ball progressions (5.16 per 90 minutes). Finally, he was fifth when it came to the most progressive runs per 90 minutes (119.78).

 When compared with Bayer Leverkusen’s current defenders Koussounou, Tapsoba, and Jonathan Tah, Hincapié also stands out. Using the last calendar years as the framework, Hincapié leads the four with 9.14 interceptions per 90 minutes and also in successful sliding tackles (61.9%). In comparison, Kossounou’s numbers were 6.63 and 38.46%, Tapsoba’s were 8.45 and 33.33%, and Tah’s were 7.87 and 61.54%. 

Hincapié also leads the four with 7.5 long passes played per game. The 19-year-old’s pass completion rate (86.83%) was the lowest of the four. Tah led with 91.93% completed passes ahead of Tapsoba (91.87%) and Kossounou (87.92%). Those numbers, of course, come with the caveat that they were produced across different competitions. Furthermore, Hincapié’s lowest numbers are not significantly below Bayer’s current crop of defenders. Overall, Leverkusen has signed a fantastic young ball-playing defender, who without a doubt has the potential to increase his market value in the future significantly. 

Manuel Veth is the editor-in-chief of the Futbolgrad Network and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth 

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