By Alexander Brazier Rymek
Atlético Ottawa’s first new signing for the 2024 season would have come as no surprise to anyone with their ear on the ground or a modicum of league-wide knowledge. As early as November ATO fans knew that Fernando Lopez had initiated talks with de Brienne and his agent, and thus as soon as Valour announced he was leaving, the obvious assumption was made. The next day, he was announced as an ATO player for the 2024 season, however this article is not meant as a simple transfer hype piece. My goal today, and for every subsequent intra-CPL ATO signing, is to take a look into said player’s 2023 CPL stats using analytics, as well as their CPL career as a whole. My process is broken down here, and if you are unfamiliar with this model I suggest you read that first. de Brienne is a special case, as he was included in my list of potential ATO acquisitions around a month ago, and thus his card and profile were seen by those who read said article. Therefore, most of this isn’t new data, however I will look a little deeper into relevant points, as well as seeing how he improved from 2022.
Matteo de Brienne’s general profile and rating distribution was a little all over the place, considering he played essentially every position on the left side of the pitch. Thus, he didn’t have the opportunities to put up blinding statistics in the categories relevant to one position, and instead had his impact distributed across the spectrum. It does make analysis like this difficult, however there are some very noticeable strengths and weaknesses here. Considering his versatility and Carlos Gonzalez’s tendency to play with players' roles, I will first highlight his attacking statistics before focusing on the defensive.
Going forwards, he scored and assisted much more above average (74.9 and 82.6 respectively), and was also in the 87th percentile when it came to Chance Creation. He was a dynamic weapon in terms of offensive impetus, something ATO lacked last season, and even more so considering he spent half his season playing defence. His dribbling stats are decidedly average, however still markedly better than Atlético’s winger options in 2023. Another category he will bolster is crossing, which has historically been a weakness for this club, highlighted by a 30th percentile mark from Jean-Aniel Assi last season.
He played as a defender to start the season, which is partly why his interceptions are so high (98.8). This is volume stat, however it is still much higher than most Full Backs, and is a skill that can be applied anywhere on the pitch. He is also good at duelling both in the air and on the ground (91.4 and 77.2), both of which are success-based metrics and are similarly useful everywhere. One of the reasons I would like to see him playing forwards is his lack of tackling ability and his mediocre Pass%, two success metrics which as a forward is acceptable but as a Full Back with little margin for error, can naturally be extremely costly.
When looking at a player’s profile when they played more than one position in a season, one must decide whether the distribution of ranks is suppressing the true statistical impact in one position or not, and if so, whether it would come out as better or worse if they stuck to one position all season. Most of the time the answer to the former is yes, and here it applies, but even so Matteo de Brienne’s strengths shine through, and he indeed could have been much more dominant in those limited categories than he was. This can apply to both forward and defensive roles, however as outlined above I think it would be more beneficial for club and player to play him at forward, a position he also occupied during his time at Carleton. Whether or not this would require a formation change is to be determined, because in the 5-3-2 Gonzalez favoured in 2023, the only position for him would be at Left Wing Back. LWB is technically a hybrid between the two positions de Brienne can play, again however I think for him and the team, having him in a much more defined attacking role is preferable.
Once again, de Brienne playing multiple positions wreaked havoc with my model. In comparing year over year statistical improvements, he increased his ranks in 12 of the 18 categories from 2022 to 2023 in almost double the minutes, most of which to a substantial degree, however only a few came in those significant to his positionally-graded weighted score. Thus, his WPA only increased by 2.5, even though his profile by comparison is much more robust, and the subsequent graph is a little deceptive. If he had stuck to one position like he did in 2022, he could have seen a much larger jump. This is of course where the eye-test comes in, and anyone who saw enough of de Brienne can see that he was a threat everywhere he played in 2023, and well deserved his U21 Player of the Season award.
As mentioned previously, statistical analysis with a player like him is tricky, but hopefully this article outlined some of his strengths and weaknesses. Overall, he made massive improvements on the pitch, and considering he will still be 21/22 when the season kicks off in 2024, has much more room to grow. Simply judging by stats it’s hard to say where he can improve, but if there was one category in particular I believe his dribbling could do with some work. If he is to play forward next season, it is crucial for him to create his own chances, even if his mark in 2023 was better than most if not all of ATO’s options up top last season. Even if his ability does remain static next season, his dynamic talent already adds a presence at that Left Midfield/Wing position that ATO desperately needs. Given his age however, he is almost sure to improve, which will be nothing but a boon for the club both on the pitch and even in the transfer market, if they choose to sell him onto the MLS or even Europe. ATO’s transfer market started off strong with Matteo de Brienne, and hopefully Fernando Lopez can continue to bring in players of his quality over the coming months.
When he isn't busy playing or watching sports (or going to school at uOttawa), Alexander is busy managing his Atlético Ottawa database, which he started in 2020, and tracks everything you can think of about the club and its players. He also runs a Twitter account dedicated to analyzing and rating CPL players using statistics, CPL by the Numbers.