Manfred Ugalde has been hailed as the wonderkid of Costa Rica by fans and pundits alike. Not only that but with Costa Rica being one of the earlier leagues to restart amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, new viewers have also been impressed from abroad.
Here is a scout report on the young forward at Saprissa
This one is a bit hit and miss. Manfred can hit the ball quite well. Whether he’s shooting at goal or putting in a cross.
There’s not too many statistical examples to prove his crossing is good. He puts in 0.37 crosses a game and 16 total in his professional career, succeeding 43% of those. While the sample size is to small to even bother judging, the crossing is very composed.
As for his shooting, he’s quite accurate. He shoots 2.51 shots a game with a 48% success rate. Not only that but his xG is a staggering 0.53!
His strongest asset though surprisingly is his heading. For someone only 171 cm tall, he bites his taller opponents with bullet headers. Despite that, he’s not got a ton of headers as goals. Only 3 of 20. However, he wins 4.23 headers a game and wins 34% of those. Not a bad number for someone quite short.
To make things clear, Manfred is a goalscoring machine. He’s got 20 goals in about 35 games (all competitions) and he’s only 18 years old.
Here you have an chart of the Costa Rican’s shots at goal total. There are more shots on target and goals than chances missed.
In terms of style, Manfred Ugalde is a poacher. He’ll score loads of goals and be an effective finisher (as summarized by his xG of 0.53) but he isn’t going to hold up the ball and create loads of chances. He’s more a Gabriel Jesus than a Sergio Aguero. In fact, he’s very similar to Gabriel Jesus as he also drifts wide often and can be effective on the wing.
His off the ball movement is great, as a poacher should be good at. His through ball ability isn’t too evident. He’s got decent passing overall but it’s more that he plays it safe rather than try risky and creative moves. Though he does try the odd one. He puts in 0.37 through balls a game, similar to his crossing. He succeeds in 37% of those.
He’s a composed finisher which a poacher should be, again. His teamwork is tough to judge because he’s very safe in his passing and he usually arrives to finish off loose balls or beat the offside trap to later beat the keeper.
Finally, his anticipation is excellent. He knows how to time a run.
Below you have an example of Manfred Ugalde’s most common type of goal.
As Manfred Ugalde’s teammate takes a shot, the Costa Rican youngster finds open space and waits for any potential rebound, or perhaps in a position to receive a pass to potentially first-time the ball into the net.
Ugalde makes no mistake and is able to convert his chance into the back of the net, which resulted in a goal.
This is perhaps his weakest area. While he’s determined and has strong leadership for his age, his winning mentality does seem a bit lower than usual. This is probably because of his role however. He doesn’t get the ball a lot and doesn’t always ask for it. Jury is out on this. Given his age, it’s harder to judge.
Manfred Ugalde is decently fast. His anticipation is what helps him more than anything, but his acceleration and pace are where they need to be. He is still not that strong for a striker, but that will come with age and more training. Right now it’s evident he needs to learn a bit more in Costa Rica or a feeder league with better facilities. He’s very balanced though. He wins a lot of fouls but otherwise, he stays on his feet most of the time.
Manfred Ugalde has a bucketload of potential. 20 goals in almost 35 games is a lot for someone his age. He’s got a few areas to work on but it’s not too hard to forget he just turned 18 a few months ago. His xG is very high and he’s also got a relatively high number of assists despite his low xA. Sitting at 5.
Being only 18, Manfred Ugalde has performed at the right time as European teams will surely come knocking due to his age. He was actually due to move to Club Brugge but didn’t happen thanks to the pandemic.