Several Mexicans have found success when moving to Europe. When you think of famous Mexican footballers in Europe you are immediately drawn to Chicharito, Carlos Vela or Hirving Lozano. All of these enjoyed European success, and it is not unheard of for players to make the trip across the Atlantic and secure their dreams of playing in Europe’s biggest leagues.
The latest success story from Mexico is the form of Raúl Jiménez. The Mexican made the switch from Mexico, in 2014, joining Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. He then went on to join Benfica before finally settling at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Reports suggest that Jimenez’s Wolves may be looking to add another Mexican to their ranks in Cesar Montes. The 23-year old centre back is currently at Monterrey FC. The Mexican first caught the eye in December 2019 when Monterrey faced Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup. Despite a 2-1 loss, Montes showed promise at the young age of 22. Montes has also drawn interest from a host of Spanish clubs, so a move to Europe seems imminent.
This tactical analysis, in the form of a scout report, will evaluate why Montes is such a sought-after asset. Using statistics and analysis of tactics, we will examine how Montes compares to some of Europe’s biggest leagues. The analysis will use data from Wyscout and will include players from Liga MX, Premier League and La Liga. All players analysed must have played at least 1000 minutes and be under the age of 26. In the analysis, Montes will be marked red, whilst the other leagues will all have their own individual colour. La Liga is marked in grey, Liga MX light blue and Premier League in dark blue.
Long-range passing ability
The role of centre back is always evolving, and the need to be efficient with the ball is as important as ever. Defending is not the only trait required for the modern-day centre back, so the first section of the analysis will examine Montes’ long-range passing ability.
It becomes very clear why Montes is a wanted man. The analysis above shows he has the highest average long pass length with 48.89m. This is way above the average for all three leagues which sits around 38m. There is only one player in touching distance of Montes, and that’s Mario Hermoso. The Spanish defender averages a long pass length of 46.45m
Interestingly, a Wolves player also appears in the analysis in Leander Dendoncker. Granted, he has played a majority of the season in midfield, however, it may suggest a reason as to why Wolves are so interested in the Mexican. Dendoncker only averages a long pass length of 27.59m. Wolves are a team that utilise playing out from the back and aren’t afraid to use long-range passing to move up the pitch. Wolves attempted the fourth most long passes in the Premier League, averaging 50.38 per 90. With Montes’ long-range passing ability, he could be a useful addition.
Montes also boasts an impressive 53.15% success rate when attempting a long pass. This is slightly higher than the average of around 52.5%. However, this completion rate is not as impressive as some other players in the European leagues. Again, Dendoncker stands out, completing 67.61% of his long passes. Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma also completes a large number of his passes, completing 63.24%.
The graphic above shows the type of pass Montes looks to utilise. Playing on the right side of a centre-back two, Montes often looks to switch the ball to the opposite corner. The passing map above show a high number of passes being switched across the pitch.
Montes is very accomplished in these passes, and on average completes around 78% of those. His success comes largely in the range of 20-30m passes, completing 91.9%. He is also very accomplished in passes over 40m, completing 88.9% of the above.
When analysing Montes, this tactic is very clear. Several times a game he will attempt a long-range pass, most noticeably a switch across the pitch. Above shows a prime example of this in a game against Toluca. Only two minutes into the game, Montes is looking to switch the ball. This is more than likely a tactic Monterrey use to spread the play and make the pitch as wide as possible. Having a player with Montes’ passing ability certainly allows them to do this and explains why he averages around 5 long passes per 90.
The analysis so far has focused on Montes’ ability with the ball at his feet. However, as a centre back, he certainly needs to be a good defender also. This section of the analysis will focus on Montes’ success in aerial duels.
The chart above looks at the number of aerial duels per 90 and also the number of aerial duels won. The top right segment shows all the players who attempt a high number of aerial duels and also win a high number. At 6”2, its unsurprising that Montes sits in this top right segment. Last season the Mexican attempted 5.99 aerial duels, winning 60.15% of these.
Only a few players attempted more aerial duels than Montes. Felix Torres, Santos Laguna, and Yerry Mina, Everton, are two of those to attempt more duels with 6.08 and 6.71 per 90, respectively. Mina wins a similar % with 59.68%, whilst Torres wins slightly fewer with 49.38%. One player who really stands out here is Aston Villa’s Kourtney Hause, winning 73.97% of the 7.79 duels per 90.
Montes is very accomplished in the air being the only Liga MX defender to sit in the top right segment. The above graphic provides some more context on how and where Montes wins his aerial duels. In the above, the 23-year old attempts 66 aerial duels, winning 68.2% of these. However, Montes is much stronger in one area. In the above, Montes attempts 26 aerial duels in zone 14. This area is likely to be where Montes attacks the ball from goal kicks or deep passes. In this area the Mexican only wins 14 of these, giving him a success % of 53.8%.
This is very poor compared to the amount he wins in the penalty area. Montes was involved in 35 aerial duels in the penalty area, winning 29 of these, a success rate of 82.9%. This is far superior to zone 14. This would suggest that Montes is much more comfortable in winning aerial duels in his own box. These aerial duels are likely to be from incoming crosses to the box, and therefore may be more important for Montes and his team. Despite, winning a low amount in zone 14, he shows he is very dominant in the air, especially around his own penalty area.
So far, the analysis has focused on what makes Montes stand out, and why European clubs may be sniffing around. However, at 23 he is not going to be the finished product and there are certainly some areas he could still improve in.
Above is a chart examining defensive duels and the success rate, a key trait for all defenders. Again, the charts show different segments using the average for all players. Ideally, players would like to be in the upper two segments, meaning they win a high % of defensive duels. However, we can see that Montes sits in the bottom right segment, suggesting he engages in a high number of defensive duels but, possibly doesn’t win a high %. The 23-year old attempts 5.55 defensive duels, winning only 60.66% of these.
This much lower than the average of all players which sits around 67%. Many of the players sit very close to each other, all engaging in around 4-7 defensive duels. These players are also very similar in their success rate, around 60-75%. These may appear so, due to the high number of defensive duels from Luis Romo, as he engages in 9.75 defensive duels per 90. Apart from Romo, Montes actually wins fewer defensive duels than all the other players analysed from Liga MX.
When analysing Montes’s defensive duels something became very clear. Montes often looks to get in front of his man to try and win the ball. Above is a prime example of Montes attempting this. As an opposition team passes the ball into their forwards, the 23-year old tries to read it early and get in front. This can be a very useful tactic for defenders as it allows them to win the ball back immediately for their team.
In the example above this works perfectly for Montes. However, this is a very risky approach and it shows with Montes on occasions. There are several times where the Mexican tries to get in front of his man but ultimately loses out. When using this tactic, there is a risk of the attacker using his body to shield the ball and coming away with it. This approach shows why Montes may lose several defensive duels.
Despite being an area of weakness, it is something Montes can improve in. Above we look at the number of successful defensive actions per 90 for La Liga and Premier League players. This chart would suggest that Montes is not as poor as first suggested when we consider all defensive actions.
The 23-year old had 8.97 successful defensive actions per 90, sitting above several other players. So, Montes isn’t necessarily a poor defender, he is possibly just better suited to winning aerial duels, interceptions and blocking shots. These are all important aspects for defenders and may suit a team like Wolves who employ a defensive back three.
This scout report looked to examine why César Montes is a wanted man in Europe, and the initial report provides good reasons. The 23-year old is still very young and can certainly keep developing. His main strength seems to be his ability with the ball at his feet. He is very comfortable with a range of passes and this is something that will appeal to European clubs.
He is also very accomplished in the air, winning a good number of aerial duels. His main area of weakness seems to be his ability in defensive duels, however, this is something that will only improve as he gains a greater understanding of his role. Defensively, he is not far behind players in La Liga and the Premier League when we look at successful defensive actions. If the Mexican was to make the move this summer, he would certainly be well equipped to fit right in.