Manchester United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho has been very public and very long. The latest reports are that Borussia Dortmund will not part with the England star during this transfer window and that the Red Devils should look elsewhere.
Time isn’t on their side and there’s now just a few days before the summer window closes. The Premier League outfit should not be deterred, however. There are alternatives out there and using the Twenty3 Discover tool, we’ve been able to narrow the list down to four.
The tool allows users to select one player and then choose what you deem to be their key metrics. You can then refine by age, league they’re playing in as well as dominant foot if you really want to go granular. You then get a list of players with similar output in the selected areas.
In the case of Sancho, we felt dribbles attempted, shots assisted and touches in the box were the best statistics to help really paint a picture of him as a player. The England international is all about output and, unlike some attackers, his best work is done with the ball.
Goals and assists could’ve been added to this list but they’re the outcome. We wanted to find players that fit the process part of things. Shot assists will eventually lead to assists, for example. A high number of touches in the box combined with a high number of dribbles is the perfect storm for a goal threat, so that was the thinking behind selecting those particular stats.
First on the list is Leicester City’s versatile forward, Harvey Barnes. The 22-year-old initially impressed on loan with West Bromwich Albion during the first half of the 2018/19 campaign before being recalled. He appeared in all but two Premier League matches for the Foxes last term and finished with six goals and seven assists.
His expected numbers weren’t too dissimilar, with the wide forward having an expected goals total of 7 and an expected assists tally of 4.11. However, an intriguing part of Barnes’ game is his post-shot expected goal metrics that show he’s adding real value to his efforts due to his finishing. He attempted 5.29 dribbles and completed 67 per cent while averaging over four touches in the opposition’s box per 90.
The Frenchman was one of the stars last season for Borussia Mönchengladbach. The Bundesliga side signed Thuram from Guingamp and made him a key part of Marco Rose’s new-look attack. Adept at playing anywhere in attack, the 23-year-old blossomed into a sustainable goal threat for Die Fohlen.
When comparing Thuram’s shot map to Sancho’s, the former’s actually looks better despite the latter scoring more goals last term. Sancho finished the campaign with 17 goals to Thuram’s ten, but in terms of expected goals, the Italian-born France U21 international was a clear winner. Furthermore, the Gladbach No.10 averaged more touches in the box, attempted more dribbles and had a higher completion rate than the Manchester United transfer target last term.
A former Chelsea player tearing up Serie A. No, we aren’t talking about Mohamed Salah but Jeremie Boga. The 23-year-old could’ve had his own goal of the season competition last term and his performances resulted in him being linked with moves away from Sassuolo.
The once-capped Ivory Coast international still calls the Mapei Stadium home but if he hits the heights of last season again, Europe’s elite won’t be able to resist. He’s an explosive player who thrives in one-on-one situations in wide areas. During the 2019/20 campaign, Boga was attempting over ten dribbles while averaging close to four touches in the box per 90.
The one-time Birmingham City loanee isn’t as productive as Sancho but he is a moments player. He’ll make things happen for himself and team-mates and if United wanted that sort of player, one to cause chaos others can thrive in, then he ticks that box.
The Fiorentina man has a bit of everything. He scores, he assists and he’s diligent defensively. He’s quicker than Sancho and he thrives when there’s space to attack. During the 2019/20 season, Chiesa didn’t attempt as many dribbles as the Dortmund man but his success rate was 75 per cent compared to Sancho’s average of 58 per cent.
Chiesa didn’t grab as many assists and his expected assist average was half of Sancho’s, but the shot assist map shows he’s used to getting the ball into the penalty area from wide areas, usually in open-play. A key weapon in the BVB No.7’s arsenal is the ability to pick out a pass instead of just crossing the ball into the box and Chiesa shares that trait. Another similarity is the number of touches both have in the area (4.6).
All the graphics and visualisations in this article use Wyscout data and were produced in the Twenty3 Content Toolbox.
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