Norwich have signed forward Milot Rashica ("hra-SHEET-sa") from Werder Bremen for €11m. We've been following him since 2015 – and he hasn't been as productive lately as he was in 2018-19. Let's find out why not.
Stats at a Premier League standard:
As you can see above, Rashica has played mainly as a striker for Werder Bremen, with great skill in 1v1s but declining attacking output. His style hasn't changed much, but his passing has gotten less aggressive and his dribbling has declined a little bit:
The share of Rashica's ball progression contributions from receiving doubled since 2018-19, while the share from passing is about the same. The remainder is his individual actions – so he's not taking the ball forward and winning as many duels as he used to:
THREAD: Ryan Gravenberch gets the start today for the Oranje. The 19-year-old Ajax phenom and smarterscout young prospect had an amazing breakout season. Apart from aerials in open play, there's not a bad number on here. Stats at a #UCL standard: 🔥🙇♂️🚀
Gravenberch operated mostly on the left for Ajax, and we'll expect to see him working there in a two again today. He's got a wide range of passes but is a storming dribbler up the left channel. He takes corners from both sides, too. Multitalented, you might say...
Oh, and Gravenberch can score from outside the box in open play, too. He's 19 years old, people.
The British-born #USMNT youth player has left Southend for QPR. Last season was tough for Southend, and Kelman didn't get on the end of many balls in the box. At 1.69m he can't do much in aerials, either. Second striker might work better.
Kelman's involvement in Southend's most dangerous moves was rather low for a central striker, though he did take decent chances on average. He was active in both channels, a bit more on the left, usually linking up the play but also dribbling on the corner of the box.
Here are Kelman's shot maps. He scored a couple of longer shots from open play. From dead balls it looks like he wasn't always around the six-yard box, which isn't surprising given his height. Again, second striker looks best for him.
Rhian Brewster is reportedly close to a move from Liverpool to Sheffield United. At first glance, the 20-year-old's stats from last season with Swansea don't look too impressive at a Premier League standard. But read on...
Brewster was involved in a surprisingly high share of Swansea's goals while on the pitch despite being part of less than 40% of its shots. One reason was his finishing, which was well above par and partly made up for his low underlying output in attack.
As Brewster's smartermap shows, he was active all over the attacking half for Swansea and got into good positions to shoot. He liked to shoot head-on from the GK's right and at more oblique angles from the GK's left. Overall he was more active in the right channel.
Rúben Dias has moved from Benfica to Manchester City for €68m, @DuncanCastles reports. Here are his stats at a Premier League standard – good attacking output and ball retention, great defending quality, awesome tackler, good in the air on dead balls:
But what's really exciting about Dias is his attacking. He was involved in 45% of Benfica's goals last season, which is huge for a RCB. He generated even more ball progression expected goals from receiving as from passing, too, taking high-quality shots (and finishing them):
Here's our smartermap for Dias last season. He got deep into the attacking half for Benfica, leaving room on the flank for the RB, and with Manchester City he should have opportunities to do the same. He even took some of those good shots in open play!
Leeds may be signing Utrecht's Gyrano Kerk for around €10m. He improved last season and is an average attacker by a Premier League standard, a great finisher, but his ball retention was low – he's a big dribbler who may lack skill to beat PL defenders:
Kerk is a rare winger (at least for the Premier League) in that he likes to dribble the ball forward from deep. He can hug the touchline or come inside and has an unpredictable mix of actions near the corner. His style at RW bears similarities to Sarr, Zaha, and Sterling.
As the smartermap in the previous tweet shows, Kerk gets into good positions to shoot – better than average for a winger. That may be a bit more difficult in the PL, but he's still an outstanding finisher. It's part of why he was involved in so many goals for Utrecht:
At smarterscout.com, we use a unique algorithm calibrated to a decade of debuts in Europe's top five leagues to spot young talent. Premium users can see the young prospect badge, and Pro users can use it to search. Here are a few from the EFL:
Bryan Mbeumo – flagged 2018-19 in Ligue 2.
Already close to average in attack for the Premier League, good in the air, great tackler, amazing finisher. That's why stats-driven Brentford let him take shots like these in open play. Scores from dead balls.
EFL League One:
Luke Woolfenden – flagged 2019-20 in League One.
Already an average defender at RCB for the Premier League, great tackler. Quality at LCB as well, though lower ball retention. Look at the Premier League RCBs with a similar style to Woolfenden's. Great list.
So De Boer probably has little effect on attacking either way but may improve a club's defending. It's notable that he was unlucky at Palace, where his squad created close to 5 xGF and didn't score. These metrics gauging just one aspect of his coaching ability, though.
We haven't heard great things about the other aspects of De Boer's coaching ability, but it seems like (a) he's not as bad as advertised, (b) expectations for him may be too high because of his playing career, and (c) the KNVB could still do much better than an average dude.
Zardes's shot quality is the same, on average, as last season, but his conversion rate is through the roof. We think some of it is sustainable, though probably not all, since these numbers are just wacky (in a Zardes kind of way):
So what happened? Well, take a look at Zardes's shot maps from open play in 2019 and 2020. We've switched off the headers. It seems like he's taking a higher proportion of his shots from the left side. Could it be as simple as that?
Nelson Semedo may go from Barcelona to Wolves. At RB, he's lately been a great defender, great in duels, with awesome ball retention as you'd expect. But he's never been a strong attacker, which could be an issue if he has to play further up at RM/RWB.
To explain why Semedo's attacking output isn't higher, we can look at his smartermap. He didn't get many touches close to the box at Barça, and his passing was fairly timid in the attacking half. It's been tough to fill those size 43 Dani Alves boots.
There have been two RBs with a similar style to Semedo's in recent seasons of the Premier League. One is Adam Smith. The other, a closer match, is this guy, who was actually quite a good attacker at one point. So a lot will depend on Semedo's role at Wolves.
Spurs may be close to signing Sergio Reguilón from Real Madrid. He had great overall numbers by a Premier League standard last season at Sevilla, improving his attacking and defending. Very good in the air in open play, but mediocre in ground duels: 🔥
Reguilón was involved in almost half of Sevilla's most productive moves last season, which is quite good for a LB, and another improvement from the previous season:
Looking at Reguilón's positioning, we can see that he cuts a wide swath on the flank, looking for shorter passes. He can come further inside before he gets to the opposition penalty area, and this can result in shots that are rather straighter on goal than for most LBs:
Bertrand Traoré is reportedly close to moving from Lyon to Aston Villa for €19m. At RW last season he was average in attack by a Premier League standard, with excellent ball retention, outstanding as a defender, very good in the air as well. Read on...
Traoré's role changed a lot between 2018-19 and 2019-20. Have a look at his smartermaps for those two seasons at RW. He shifted from short passes further back on the pitch to longer passes, more dribbles in and near the area, and more shots in the box, raising his output:
Despite this, Traoré's involvement in Lyon's goals was low. That was mostly because of his own finishing, which took a turn for the worse in 2019-20. He was more involved in 2018-19 despite the more withdrawn role.
Marcos Acuña has moved from Sporting to Sevilla for €10m. He's almost 29, but that's not a bad price for a guy with these numbers at a La Liga standard. Huge attacking output, good defending, excellent both ways in ground duels, awesome finisher: 🔥
Acuña is an excellent crosser who can make long passes from anywhere along the flank. He can also take corners and free kicks from both sides, as his smartermap shows:
That's part of why Acuña was involved in a whopping 68% of Sporting's goals while playing LB in 2018-19. That figure came down a bit last season, but 43% was still pretty good for his position:
Lazio have paid €18m to Fenerbahçe for Vedat Muriqi. The Kosovar striker is utterly dominant in the air at a Serie A standard but has average attacking output. He's an aggressive defender with subpar ball retention and a weak finisher. But read on....
As his smartermap shows, Muriqi gets a ton of shots in the box. But he also looks for short passes on either side of the penalty spot, so he can create as well as score, especially working with a partner.
One reason Muriqi doesn't have higher output is that he often settles for poor shots. Look at all the red arrows on his shot map in open play – he's ending possessions too early without much chance of scoring.
Milot Rashica may be leaving Werder Bremen for Aston Villa. He's not your typical striker, and his attacking output can change a lot with his role. He's an average dribbler and finisher for the Premier League, with good ball retention. But read on....
Rashica is sort of a converted winger. In 2018-19 he operated on either flank and got into the box for prime shots. Last season he operated more centrally and ended up taking worse shots from outside the box. So he might work best with a central striker as a partner.
Rashica (roughly pronounced "hrashitsa") can finish from outside the box, as he showed last season, but there's a tradeoff with possessions when a player tries so many missiles in open play:
Sheffield United have signed 19-year-old Malian DM Ismaila Coulibaly from Sarpsborg. He'll go on loan to Beerschot, but his numbers suggest he could already defend himself in the Premier League. Great defending, decent attacking, strong dribbler: 🚀
Coulibaly can play box-to-box, using his dribbling to get forward and disrupting opposition moves as a defender. He tended toward the left side most at Sarpsborg:
Coulibaly also took some decent shots in the box, including from dead balls. Belgian First Division goalkeepers will want to watch their left sides in those situations....
After years of being looked at by Premier League clubs, Ollie Watkins may be leaving Brentford for Aston Villa at £28m+. Here are his stats at a Premier League standard – already above average at CF in all the important ratings:
Watkins started out as more of a second striker, and he still does a lot of link-up play in the attacking half, as his smartermap shows:
While Watkins is not a classic target man, he does take really high-quality shots, as you'd expect from a Brentford striker. His estimated average chance of scoring was 20%, which is great. Here's our shot map (you can toggle different types of shots on and off on our site):
Sheffield United have raided Derby for their fullbacks, reportedly for £11m total. Let's start with Jayden Bogle, who was featured in our Ultimate Second-Tier XI a while back: smarterscout.com/articles/champ…
Bogle is a smarterscout young prospect, which means our algorithm flagged him to star at a higher level. Here are his stats at a Premier League standard – already above average in our model ratings at RB, but mediocre so far in duels. Defending quality improved in 2019-20!
Bogle used a lot of short passes on the right flank, but as he got close to the box there were more dribbles and longer passes thrown in. That's usually good for a fullback – cross if the defender steps off, take him on if he's in close.
Newcastle may have 3⃣ new signings soon. Let's have a look at how they compare to the previous players at their positions.
First, Callum Wilson v Joelinton. It's not hard to improve on the Brazilian's output. Wilson gets into the box much more. £20m.
Next, Ryan Fraser. He played mostly a sort of LM for Bournemouth last season. Let's compare to Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almirón (slightly different scales but close). Fraser is a more aggressive passer, as good on the ball as Saint-Maximin. Doesn't defend much though.
Fraser is a free transfer. A question is how the Magpies will use Saint-Maximin if they also want Fraser on the pitch. Here are their smartermaps from their most common positions last season. Saint-Maximin to play centrally, or shift to the right as at Nice, Almirón benched?