Reported Everton and Tottenham Hotspur target Baptiste Santamaria models his game on two Anfield legends with Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso acting as inspirational figures for the Angers ace, speaking to France Football.
He might be known across the Channel as the second coming of N’Golo Kante but, interestingly enough, Chelsea’s terrier-like enforcer was conspicuous by his absence as Santamaria lists the players that he hopes to emulate on the pitch.
With 3.3 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game, it is clear to see what the tireless Frenchman brings to the table. But the other side of Santamaria often goes unappreciated.
A man who has been linked with Everton, Leicester and Spurs via The Express also boasts an impressive passing range from his favoured ‘number six’ role in front of the defence.
This is a player who prides himself on his ability on the ball as well as off it, so it should be no surprise that he sees himself as more of an Alonso, a Lampard or a Gerrard than a Kante or a Claude Makelele.
“When I was little, I played higher (up the pitch) so I really liked watching Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and of course (Zinedine) Zidane. To speak about players who play or played at the position which is now mine I would say Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso (are my inspirations),” Santamaria explains.
“I also liked (Andrea) Pirlo a lot. These are the profiles I prefer.”
Santamaria, who arrived at Angers as a replacement for the Wolves ace Romain Saiss, does admit that he hopes to improve his distribution in the years to come.
He is not the finished product just yet but, at £13 million, he is certainly a risk worth taking.
“It’s time to continue my progress with a new challenge. It is the logical continuation of the things,” he told Telefoot recently.
“Playing for a top European club? I prepare for it every day. Inevitably, I have this ambition and this desire to continue my progress like that. We’ll see how it goes, but I really want to (test myself at a higher level).”