Recently signing for West Ham for £4.3 million, the Spanish central midfielder has had a wonderful couple of seasons playing for Italian side Sampdoria. Appearing 139 times for the Serie A outfit since his breakthrough season of 2010/11, he signed from Atletico Madrid for a mere £89k in 2008.
The 23 year old has appeared five times for the under-21 Spain team, with that itself being a major feat amid the vast amount of talent in the Spanish under-21 midfield. This season, Obiang has played a major role in Sampdoria’s extraordinary season, helping them finish seventh in Serie A, whilst also developing into a much improved box-to-box central midfielder.
Obiang possesses great stamina and energy enabling him to get around the pitch with ease, especially as a box-to-box midfielder. He is known for his terrific work rate, which is a key attribute for any central midfielder to have. Moreover, his natural fitness is of the highest quality, without sustaining any major injuries throughout his professional career to date.
At the height of 6”1, Obiang can be easily compared to a player such as Manchester City’s Yaya Touré, since their roles are fairly familiar. Obiang has a strong build, therefore making it hard for any player to push him of the ball. Though, for a large player, Obiang isn’t necessarily slow which enables him to make meaningful runs from his own half and well into the opposition’s half. As well as this, Obiang has a good tackling ability, again making him a dependable option as a box-to-box player.
Capped five times by the Spanish under-21s, and of Equatoguinean and Gabonese descent, one of Obiang’s best traits is his great passing ability, ranging from little “one-two’s” to the more optimistic medium to long-range passes. This is one reason why the Spanish youth setup employed the midfielder as a deep-lying playmaker during his time with the team, since he possesses a good passing ability, as well as being able to closely dribble with the ball – not necessarily surprising for a footballer who grew up in Spain.
However, even if Obiang does have an abundance of qualities in the central midfield, there are some areas of his game which could be improved. One of these areas is his free-kick taking ability, or the lack of it. As a midfielder, scouts would expect him to possess an adequate shooting ability from range, though this seems to be one area of his game which needs work. Alongside this, another area Obiang needs to improve is his general knack of goal scoring. As a box-to-box midfielder, and sometimes a deep-lying playmaker, he needs to be looking up at players such as Touré and Lampard who have the knack of creeping into the box. The statistics show this, with only 4 goals in 139 career appearances, with the same potentially being said regarding his lack of assists, with a total of 10 to his name.
Many spectators of Obiang’s would see the £4.3 million paid by West Ham for his signature and call it a bargain, especially with his abundance of attributes. Most probably, he will go straight into West Ham’s side as a straight swap for the outgoing Alex Song, returning to Barcelona from a season-long loan at Upton Park. He will certainly provide the spark West Ham were missing during the second half of last season, providing that the central midfielder adapts well to life in the Premier League, which I’m sure he will, given that he already knows the English language as well as already possessing a certain physicality to his game.