When Everton first signed Sandro Ramirez from Malaga, we at RBM speculated that he’d fit well as a wide forward in Ronald Koeman’s system. The idea was that his tendency to drift out wide to receive the ball, and then cut inside to shoot would fit the Dutchman’s system well. Sandro had a history of lethal direct free kicks, and a willingness to shoot from long range - both concepts missing from last year’s team.
Then the season started, and Sandro’s usage by Koeman simply made no sense. First we saw Koeman try to lead the line with him, which is clearly not the role he is best suited for because of the aforementioned tendency to drift wide and his less than compelling size. Then he was put up top in a pairing with Wayne Rooney, and they both drifted wide, so again, no one held down the middle. Then we saw him get strange substitute appearances before finally disappearing completely.
All of this happened to a player who scored 14 goals in La Liga last year. Now, for many English Premier League fans, this is the part where people try to scoff about the quality of the league that sends a wider variety of teams to Europe than any other on earth and has not only owned most of the silverware in both major European competitions over the last eight years (since the reorganization of the Europa League 09-10, 11 out of a possible 16 trophies), but has by far the best record in head to head matchups against other leagues in those competitions.
Think what you want about which league is the best in the world, but the EPL and La Liga are very close to one another in terms of overall quality.
With Sandro, Malaga finished 11th in La Liga and averaged 1.29 goals a game. Without him they sit in 18th and are scoring 0.76 goals a game.
Please understand that Sandro is an extremely high quality young player, and Everton are wasting him. He has yet to be used in a role that suits his talents, and as a result both he and the team have suffered. He’s been linked with a return to Spain, and who could blame him? Both managers he has played for so far this season have refused to play the man in the position that suits him best.
So that I can’t be accused of calling a problem without showing a solution, there are two immediate ways he could be used to success for Everton.
First, as part of a striker duo with either Oumar Niasse or Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Both DCL and Oumar do good job of holding down the center of the opponent’s defense and this would allow Sandro to do what he does best - roam to receive the ball.
The other option is simply to play him as an out and out winger, and given the absolute refusal of Ronald Koeman to play real wide attackers and the inconsistency of our wide attackers in the so-inept-it’s-baffling schemes of David Unsworth, the fact that he hasn’t been given a fair run out in a scheme and position that plays to his strengths is a real shame.
Some of you are probably scoffing at this point, deriding the man’s quality and perhaps still cracking jokes about La Liga despite the facts mentioned above, but in Sandro’s career so far it’s been very simple: when he’s used in ways that play to his strengths, he scores goals. When he doesn’t, he has a year like this year.
Why buy a player if you aren’t going to use him correctly?