How Matěj Valenta became one of the best number 6 in the Fortuna Liga
Making a smart move in the middle of the pitch, Ceske Budejovice dramatically improved their defence in the 21/22 season.
During the first half of the 21/22 season, České Budějovice had problems defending the middle of the field, where their opponents easily penetrated them with passes and runs. After Matěj Valenta became a regular member of the starting squad, the defence of this space improved significantly. It was above the Czech league average after the second half of the season.
Thanks to this, České Budějovice started to concede fewer goals, and in terms of the xGA (expected goals against) metric, they ranked among the league average, even though they were the third worst defence in the fall.
Blue colour = success rate of passes and runs into the zone is lower than the league's average, Red = higher
Valenta came to Budějovice during the 20/21 season on the recommendation of 11Hacks as a free agent after being one of the best number 6 in the second league a season earlier, playing for Ústí nad Labem. He stood out defensively, creatively and with his contribution in the final third of the pitch in a team that finished 7th.
Although he was only 19 years old, he had a high success rate in defensive duels on the ground, was winning many balls in dangerous spaces and read the game well. For his age, he produced a truly exceptional defensive performance, moreover in a very physically demanding competition.
According to the "goal probability added" metric, his runs with the ball dramatically increased his team's chances of scoring, and he was not afraid to play difficult passes in the final third of the pitch to create dangerous shooting positions for his teammates.
After he adapted to the Czech top tier and made it into the starting eleven, he became one of the best defensive midfielders in the league.
His performances have earned him the attention of the top Czech clubs and from abroad, and if he leaves, Budějovice will receive a significant transfer fee for a player they brought in for free two years earlier by combining data analytics with traditional scouting methods.