It’s always the same. Before Christmas, when funds are tight, you can’t stop finding items you want to buy. Then, once a cheque from your great-aunt clears, you become more frugal, wanting to make sure you are making the right purchase.
This is exactly the situation Southampton currently find themselves in. Flush with cash after the £75million deal which saw Virgil van Dijk join Liverpool, the southern side have money to spend, but Mauricio Pellegrino knows he has to make the right choice or his time at St. Mary’s could be over.
Goals have been hard to come by for the Saints, so it’s no surprise to see Daniel Sturridge, Islam Slimani and now Monaco’s Guido Carrillo all linked with a January move to the south coast.
“I think we are on the market ready to try to bring somebody that wants to come. I know that will be difficult because in January it is not easy to bring players,” Pellegrino admitted after he was booed despite the 1-0 FA Cup win over Fulham.
“The market is huge and I think we have some opportunities. We have four, five or six targets, we have got confidence that someone else can come. There are many players that we have got interest but I can’t say anything.”
According to The Telegraph, Monaco have agreed to sell Carrillo to the south coast club in a deal worth a reported £19.1million.
Although he has struggled for game time, four goals in seven league games following a foot injury has helped Carrillo show what he can produce.
Coming off the back of a hat-trick against fourth-tier side Moulins Yzeure in the Coupe de France, his confidence is high and he could relish a move at this crucial stage of his career.
Who is Guido Carrillo?
Born in Magdelena, a small town along the coast from Buenos Aires, as a boy he would join the youth set-up of Estudiantes, finally making his first-team debut in 2011 aged 19.
Two years later, Pellegrino himself would return from his job in Valencia to become first-team coach and spent just over two years at the club.
Carrillo enjoyed his best-ever season playing under the Saints boss, scoring 13 times in 37 league games. It is still the only time he has managed to finish a campaign with double figures.
In the summer of 2015, although there was interest from Olympiakos, Benfica and Inter Milan, he would join Monaco on a five-year-deal worth around €8.8million.
Anthony Martial, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Layvin Kurzawa would all leave before the start of the new season and Carrillo was one of 17 summer arrivals as Monaco began their rebuilding phase.
Some would go on to impress, like Thomas Lemar, but others – Ivan Cavaleiro, Gil Dias and Farès Bahlouli to name a few – wouldn’t hit the mark.
The Argentine forward lies somewhere in the middle. Never deemed first-choice, he has played behind Falcao, Kylian Mbappé and Valère Germain.
In 65 Ligue 1 appearances, he has started just 22 and has 15 goals in 2596 minutes. That’s 173 minutes for each league strike.
To compare, Shane Long scores every 297 minutes he’s played in the Premier League, with Manolo Gabbiadini slightly better at 226 minutes.
What are Carrillo’s strengths?
The right-footed forward is a neat finisher, able to find the corners with powerful shots. However, his best work comes with his movement and heading ability.
You can see from the graphics above, Carrillo uses the anticipation of a cross and his movement to create separation between him and his marker.
First he edges towards the goal, but then when the defender is on his heels, he takes a backwards step to create a yard of space.
João Moutinho whips in the cross, Carrillo reacts brilliantly, uses the space to get the march on his opponent and heads the ball perfectly into the corner.
It’s textbook from the front-man, but something he does so well and makes look simple.
He’ll often look to make intelligent runs behind players, using their blind spot to his advantage. Then, as he is always on his toes, rather than wait for the ball to come to him, he runs towards the space, making it very hard to pick him up.
Carrillo will look to catch defenders off-guard, leaving them flat-footed.
Playing either as the lone forward, or in a two-man attack, he is looking to work off the shoulder of the last defender and uses the runs of his team-mates to find space. He is a willing runner, able to take defenders away, opening up space for others to fill.
It can often be a thankless task, playing up on your own, but he is mobile and hungry, defends from the front and tries to create opportunities when he can.
What are Carrillo’s weaknesses?
All too often, his shot selection can let him down. Trying attempts from out wide, or when defenders are in the way.
It is somewhat understandable though. His chances in the team have been limited, so when he does get on the pitch, there is a case to say he is trying too hard to impress and just wants to make an impact.
He featured for just 564 minutes in the league last term, up to 410 already this season and his shot percentage on target has gone from 45.1 per cent to 46.4.
Make him the starter in an attack and you will give him a chance to settle and improve further.
How much would Carrillo cost?
Contracted until 2020, Monaco are in no rush to sell their forward. He has been playing well as Falcao’s understudy but with Keita Baldé, Adama Diakhaby and Stevan Jovetić also on the books, there is space to let him go if he is offered first-team football.
Any deal over £15million and the Ligue 1 club would still be doubling what they originally paid for the striker and in relation to the impact he has had in France, that would be more than fair.
Why Premier League clubs should make a move for Carrillo
No doubt he is a player Pellegrino knows well and it would make the transition to English football much easier with his manager’s previous knowledge of his strengths and weakness.
Southampton have the players in place to create chances for Carrillo, with Nathan Redmond, Dusan Tadić and James Ward-Prowse all important creative outlets.
The Saints rank 13th in the Premier League at finding the back of the net, but are up in eighth in terms of shots on goal.
The Monaco man is not a forward who creates chances for himself, he’s the man with the movement and intelligence to create space and get on the end of crosses. Help him and he has the potential to score the goals Saints have been missing this term.