Oihan Sancet: Can Lezama’s Latest Product Lead Athletic Club to European Football?

One of the most intriguing transfer policies in football is at Athletic Club. Only players born in the Basque Country, those who have progressed through the team’s youth system, or those who have played for another Basque football club may be signed by the club. This ultimately makes the historic team very reliant on integrating outstanding young players who are capable of contending in La Liga into the first team. Just a handful of players who have passed through Athletic Club’s academy system during the past ten or so years include Aymeric Laporte, Iaki Williams, Unai Simon, Ander Herrera, and Kepa Arrizabalaga.


Another youngster who is well-regarded in Spain as having a bright future in football has lately made headlines at the Basque club. Oihan Sancet, an offensive midfielder, is pictured here. In an April 2019 1-0 victory over FC Barcelona, Sancet made his Gaizka Garitano debut. After almost three years, the 21-year-old is an important member of Marcelino Toral’s squad and has participated in nearly all of the league games this year. The youthful superstar has created so much buzz at the San Mamés that Real Madrid has even been said to be interested in the player. In this analysis piece, we will look into the player’s strengths, and weaknesses, and how he fits into his side’s system of play.


Player Overview


Sancet is a fairly strong player. The academy graduate is clearly a presence on the field and a handful for opposing defenders due to his height and rather honed body. The player is 6 feet 2 inches tall, or 188 centimeters for those who prefer centimeters over feet and inches. He weighs about 158 pounds or 72 kilograms, which is roughly equivalent to 11 stone and 4 pounds.



Sancet is quite adaptable for managers because he can play a variety of roles. He has mostly been utilized as a second striker under Marcelino, replacing the ailing Raul Garcia, and teams up with the quick Williams, making for a potent duo. Upon which we will look into the player’s heatmap from the last season (2022-2023) to see how much of an impact he has his in his area of play.



It is very evident that Oihan is very handy in the midfield area, especially on the right-hand but he is not a box-to-box midfielder as he doesn’t drop into the defensive 3rd. We will delve into his stats in the visualization will be highlighted in gold for easy identification. This ideology will be applied throughout the analysis piece. Players having played more than 25-90s will be taken into account for comparisons. 


Attacking Analysis


Having made his Spanish top-flight division in 2019, Oihan Sancet got into the spotlight in the 2022-2023 season, having made 12 Goal Contributions (10 goals and 2 assists) and he played a very important role in helping his team finish eighth that season.



We are 11 games into the ongoing (2023-2024) season and Sancet has scored 2 goals this season, but his 36.7% shot on target percentage over the past four seasons nevertheless shows that he doesn’t take risks in front of goal in terms of shooting. His decision-making in front of the 18-yard box is an area of concern for the 23-year-old, and his off-the-ball positioning goes off the mark at times, as he either drives too far or gets too close within the range, as it creates a void of space left out that might turn into a counter for the opposition. This is also a reason why he is not been able to be as impactful in the attacking box, as the ball either does not reach him or he gets himself in the way of a defender.



Having over 2.0-xA/90, the Spanish international is a very threatening player and a defender’s nightmare when left with one-on-one situations. The player’s ability to draw defenders and make them go out of position has been a very good attribute making it very difficult for the defenders to keep an eye on him.



Having scored only 40 goals last season, Athletic Club has spilled out multiple chances in front of the goal because of their poor finishing. Sancet is physically strong, his pace along with decision-making with the ball at his feet helps him move around and open the field of play for his teammates to make forward runs. He has been a constant threat with his ability to scan the pitch for open spaces.



Sancet might not take risks in front of the goal but he is a player that is ready to take multiple risks with the ball at his feet. He often looks to go forward without the help of his teammates making him the player to be dispossessed the most. His first touch has been a major problem when it comes to keeping the ball down at his feet making it difficult for him to turn or look around for options to keep the ball with his team.


Midfield Analysis


To begin with, we will look into a scatter plot for the player’s carries into the final third vs touches in the final third.



Oihan Sancet is any manager’s dream player when it comes to involving himself in the counters and build-up play. He has made over 70 carries and 500 touches in the attacking third, Sancet loves to make those quick runs into open spaces making the build-up more effective and efficient for his team to perform in the attacking third.



The Spaniard has a style of play that pulls the defender out of his position which creates space for his teammates to make quick runs and start counters, he is very quick and in control at tight places and uses his pace to get out of tight spaces. 



Sancet is a physically imposing player and he is very quick with and without the ball, He has a conversion rate of 60% when it comes to dribbling past a defender. His decision-making of when to release the ball is another reason that makes him just another normal player defying his ability to be among the best. 



His first touch has to be improved a lot because it restricts him from making swift turns that would help him shift the game of play helping his team to hold on to the ball and try to penetrate from the other side of play. His ability to scan the positioning of his teammates and opponents gets limited as he looks to just the side of play his first touch takes him, which is why he has a very low rate of switches played.  


Defensive Analysis


The Spanish international has been a very good prospect up top in the field but does he help his team defensively? Let us take a look into the scatter plot for tackles in the middle third vs tackles in the final third.



Oihan Sancet involves himself in every possible attacking situation but as of football, with the ball all of the players are attackers and without the ball all the players are defenders. The Spaniard goes way too up in the field which makes it incredibly hard for him to drop back when his team needs him.


He finds himself out of position due to the lack of awareness in his off-ball movements which makes it hard for his team to stay in their formation. He is a very hardworking player when it comes to pressing up-top the field and his ability to scan and steal the passes that his opponents try to make it a very big boost in his game.



Playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Sancet is often seen taking in the number 10 role that eases of game in the central area but when he drifts wide, he plays as a false 9 which makes him go up top making it almost impossible for him to drift back into the defending 3rd when his team needs him. When playing as a false 9, he has to go out of position leaving and when the opponents have the ball it creates a void in his position making it hard for teammates to fill in and work in an organized manner.



The 22-year-old Spanish international stands tall at 6’2,” making him very dangerous in aerial battles, He has a staggering conversion rate of over 50 % in his aerial battles. Even though he finds it incredibly hard to fall back he works very hard to help his team defensively. The Spaniard has made 31 clearances + tackles showing how much pressure he applies on the opponents. His presence puts more pressure on the opponents than it looks as his agility to fight in order to win the ball back helps in recovering the ball back for his team.



As the stats indicate, Sancet is on the list of most fouls committed, as he made 140 recoveries last season and won more than 65% of his tackles made. Interestingly, he received 6 yellow cards and was sent off once last season but with only 9 games into the season, he has been shown the yellow card and has been sent off twice which shows that he still has a lot to learn to use his effectiveness in the best way possible. 


After kicking off October with a 3-0 win against Almeria, Athletic fell to a 1-0 loss to Barcelona before drawing 2-2 to Valencia and beating lower-tier Rubi in the Copa del Rey, they sit sixth in the table, one point behind Real Sociedad, five behind Barcelona, and one above Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano. They’ll be looking to pick up an away win on Sunday at Villarreal before facing off against Celta de Vigo.


By: Sive Vishwa / @Sive_vishwa

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Sam Barnes – Sportsfile / UEFA