Monarcas Morelia have exceeded expectations in the Liga MX Apertura this 2019. They recently got knocked out by Club America in the semi-finals but not without a fight. One of the key assets to this campaign came from defending. In particular, straight from Chile is Sebastian Vegas. Here is a scout report.
Born in Santiago, Sebastian Vegas started his career at Audax Italiano. He made his debut in the 2013-14 season in which he was only 16 years old.
Around this time, he was also a part of Chile’s U17 setup and participated in the U17 Sudamericano of that year. Chile failed to qualify but he did play and even managed to score a goal against Uruguay. He was called up to the U20 national side two years later and played in the U20 Sudamericano based in Uruguay.
In Chile’s top flight, he had won himself a spot at Audax Italiano and played in the centre of defence. He was pretty consistent over three years he had spent at the club as a professional.
After impressing in his home country, Monarcas Morelia signed him on loan in 2016. They were about to go in a potentially tough season as they were last in the relegation table for most of 2016/17. They had made several signings to attempt a great escape such as Sebastian Sosa, Gabriel Achillier and Raul Ruidiaz.
Since he was young, he didn’t get the go immediately. In the middle of the Apertura, he got the go and played for most of the rest of the season.
Since they saved themselves from relegation, he’s been an important part of Monarcas Morelia’s defence and has become a key player for the team. Now regarded as one of the better centre backs in the Liga MX.
Monarcas Morelia under Guede have been playing a possession system that has players build up their attacks from their own half. In other words, playing the ball out of defence.
Sebastian fits into this mould perfectly. He is great at playing it out and arguably the best in defence at getting the ball into the other half with class. His dribbling ability isn’t fantastic but instead he uses his strength and confidence to get forward. He also makes sure he is being covered in the case he is dispossessed.
As any central defender, he also has a duty to defend regularly and this is the case when out of possession.
Here is an example. Vegas who is on his way forward to play it out of his own half is well covered by 3 other defenders sitting in a rather narrow formation to close down on the potential space. Of course, it’s not all secure but it’s close enough to take the risk.
When the team is in possession, he almost acts as a holding midfielder to get attacks going more often and hold the ball more often.
This is his heatmap against Leon, same match as the other example. You can see he mostly spends his time at the back where a CB should be and roaming out of position and into the midfield.
Here is another example. This one in a 6-1 win over Juarez perhaps shows less motive to get forward due to usually being in the lead, but you can still see him pushing up.
Taking a look at his overall heat map, you can see how much time he spends in both areas of the pitch. However you can also see he is primarily a left centre back and doesn’t play at all on the right. This could be one weakness due to being mostly left footed. He is still a pretty complete CB and is very good at holding possession in a progressive manner.
As a comparison, let’s take a look at his teammates heatmap
This is Gabriel Achilier who is Morelia’s other CB. You can see he’s played as a Libero and on both sides as a centre back, but very few times he’s pushed forward at least when compared to Sebastian Vegas.
Vegas has great anticipation to begin with, which is arguably the true secret attribute to defending. Especially a CB who often pushes up and would counter press after losing the ball.
He has 5.4 interceptions per game. In comparison, Club America’s Bruno Valdez has only 5 per 90 and a similar CB in Cesar Montes has a bit more in 5.83.
In total, Vegas has more interceptions than anyone else in the league besides Monterrey’s Nicolas Sanchez. He has 120 interceptions total and is 2nd in the league.
As mentioned, he’s a strong central defender and that’s what he uses to get forward and play it out of the back. He averages more progressive runs per game than Valdez and Montes, who are rather similar central defenders. He has 0.79 per game compared to Valdez’ 0.64 and Montes 0.44.
He is also 4th in shots blocked, which tells you he is good at last ditch defending. Not only is he classy in winning the ball back regularly, but also at stopping certain attempts at goal.
He also has high bravery and isn’t scared to get himself in front of a shot, another example of good last ditch defending.
As America is about to shoot at goal, Vegas dives in front of the shot and knocks it the other direction.
Finally, he gets in more sliding tackles per game than most other CB’s. He puts in 1.23 sliding tackles per game. Anything over 1 is above the average. Bruno Valdez, Gabriel Achilier and Cesar Montes all have below that.
He does get stuck in a lot but only has one red card all season, which shows he is able to take the risk without the worry of getting sent off for the most part.
Sebastian Vegas is 23 years young and still has plenty of time to make an impact with a club in a top 5 league in Europe. He has every chance to make it that far and his only real downfall is the lack of an EU passport.
It is more likely he’ll go as far as a mid table club in Europe. Your Bournemouth’s, Real Betis’. He could also realistically play for a giant in the America’s like Boca or River and make an impression.
As for the National Team, he’s definitely going to be in the side for year to come. While he’s not Medel, he is one of the best coming up for Chile and will lead the defence in the future. Along with the likes of Pulgar, he is the future of La Roja.
Vegas has a bright future with his national team and at club level. He is a very progressive and complete central defender and a very disciplined player. He won’t be the next Elias Figueroa, but he’s still a very exciting player for Chile’s future and has shown a lot at both his clubs.