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Everton 'in talks' with Barcelona over Todibo

| Tuesday, 28 April 2020 76comments  |  Jump to last
Jean-Clair Todibo has emerged as the latest player to be linked with Everton, with the MailSport claiming that the Blues have opened negotiations with Barcelona.

The report claims that the two parties are in talks over a potential €20m transfer of the centre-half who has spent the second half of the current season on loan at Schalke, reputedly after Everton missed out on capturing him in January.

Barça are said to be willing to sell the French U20 international and Everton are known to be looking at central defensive reinforcements this summer.

A move for Gabriel of Lille has been consistently mooted in the press for the past few weeks but the lack of clarity over the end of the Premier League season and the opening of the transfer window means that there has been no concrete news on that front.

Reader Comments (76)

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Bob Parrington
1 Posted 28/04/2020 at 07:45:59
Give me another one just like the other one, do...oo!
Sam Hoare
2 Posted 28/04/2020 at 07:49:43
This would be something of a coup. The majority of Barca fans were happy to let Mina and Gomes go; not so Todibo.

He's pretty raw still. Decent in the air but needs to strengthen up a bit. Very quick and very composed on the ball. Can dribble and pass well.

He's only 20 and is not as developed or polished as someone like Gabriel but could in time become an elite centre-back. He has the attributes.

I think £18M 6 months ago would have have been a bargain but hard to know where prices are or should be in this current world.

He's right-footed predominantly I believe but could be an alternative to Gabriel. Or Barca could be using us to draw out offers. Can't believe we'd be going for him and Gabriel. Though that pairing in 4 years time could well be world-class.

Robert Tressell
3 Posted 28/04/2020 at 08:33:08
One of many exceptional young french centre-backs. Barca were expecting him to be their Pique replacement I think but they probably need someone more first team ready.

Not convinced he'd be ahead of Mina or Holgate (possibly even Keane) at this stage – but does have the potential to be very good indeed. Prefer Maghaeles really as more first-team ready and a good left foot to provide a bit of balance.

Vijay Nair
4 Posted 28/04/2020 at 12:09:03
Take it all with a pinch of salt but we are also being linked with another young centre-back, Malang Sarr from Nice. 21 years old and a left-footer. Unlike Todibo, he will be available on a free as his contract is ending.
Martin Berry
5 Posted 28/04/2020 at 12:23:18
I am very pleased that we are being linked with exciting young talent as we build for the future.
Steve Shave
6 Posted 28/04/2020 at 13:38:10
I know very little of the lad, my research into Gabriel makes me think he would be the more polished of the two and built like a tank. If Tobido was on loan at Schalke this season does anyone know how he performed?
Sam Hoare
7 Posted 28/04/2020 at 13:47:49
Steve, he didn't get a lot of time there, about 400 minutes total, but did well for the most part.

You're right, he's certainly not as polished as Gabriel (who himself is a touch raw) but may have a higher talent ceiling.

Robert Tressell
8 Posted 28/04/2020 at 13:49:46
I think Todibo was very good at Schalke (and may well be Kenny's latest BFF?). He's also built like a tank and has a bit of Virgil van Dijk about him. Just a touch younger than Maghaeles and very right-footed, albeit classy on the ball). Probably got carried away saying Keane could possibly be better.
Sam Hoare
9 Posted 28/04/2020 at 14:01:24
Robert, I know what you meant in that Keane would probably make less mistakes next season than Todibo. Think I know which player we would both prefer in the squad though over the mid/long term.
Robert Tressell
10 Posted 28/04/2020 at 14:56:50
Well construed, Sam. Having not thought it through initially, I agree that's what I must have meant. 👍
Mike Gaynes
11 Posted 28/04/2020 at 15:58:42
Wow, great info, Sam and Robert. Here I am a Barca fan and I never knew, in the one glimpse I've had of Todibo at Schalke, that he was actually a Barca loan. I also never knew we were actually in for him in January. Marcel must really like this kid.

(Come to think of it, Robert, how did you get an impression of him? He's only played 267 league minutes for Schalke!)

Anyway, somebody's gonna get him. Schalke can't afford the €25M, and their request to continue the loan was rejected by Barca, which urgently needs to sell players. Transfermarkt says our offer is actually €20 million plus €5 million in performance-related add-ons, but Barca is expecting more offers from Premier League clubs. They paid almost nothing for him, so it'll be pure profit, and damn do they need it.

Sam Hoare
12 Posted 28/04/2020 at 16:16:02
Any day Mike. I have a dream where we end up with Gabriel, Mina, Holgate and Todibo as our centre backs. With Gibson to cover. Reckon that would have us covered very well for the next decade almost!

I am hoping this will be the transfer window where it all comes together for Brands. Though who knows how to price players at this point?

Tony Everan
13 Posted 28/04/2020 at 16:47:53
Are we firing a few warning shots to Gabriel and his agent? ‘Make your mind up as we have other options.’
Robert Tressell
14 Posted 28/04/2020 at 17:19:05
Might be right, Tony. And keeping the price keen too.
Derek Knox
15 Posted 28/04/2020 at 19:36:12
Robert @8, we've had a few built like tanks over the years, and some who have played like septic tanks, and stunk the place out. I just hope we eventually get a decent squad of Ancelotti's choice, not remnants of previous Manager's cock-ups on silly contracts.

I still wish we could find some of these players before they get into the £20M+ category.

Alan J Thompson
16 Posted 29/04/2020 at 05:54:30
How old is this French U-20 lad and what does it do for players like Holgate, Gibson, Feeney and Branthwaite? I'm all for signing better players but why is it we seem to get a rush for one position as we seem to be overloaded at right-back and central defender albeit some may not make the grade and others are getting near their best before dates?

Or is it not just Chelsea, who don't seem to need to reduce their wage bill, that will have a lot out on loan? I suppose I can hope that this Manager will be here for some time and, at some future date, there will be some time between new faces in a winning team.

Sam Hoare
17 Posted 29/04/2020 at 11:44:08

Todibo is 20. He is quite a bit ahead of the likes of Gibson and Branthwaite.

I don't expect Feeney to make it at Everton I'm afraid. Could be wrong but he is not super mobile and may be more suited to teams with a lower block. More Shane Duffy than Mason Holgate.

I think we have Mina and Holgate as first-choice defenders. Keane is okay but again more suited to lower block. he has 2 years left on contract and ideally would be sold to help meet FFP.

We need at least one more first-team ready centre-back(probably Gabriel) then if we get a second one like Todibo it allows us to send the likes of Gibson and Branthwaite on loan. But I expect we will only get one.

Assuming we play 4-4-2, I think we'll see Mina and Holgate rotating alongside Gabriel (or whoever new centre-back is) with Gibson retained as 4th choice backup.

Peter Gorman
18 Posted 29/04/2020 at 11:46:19
Everton have not had a truly flawless centre-half since Carl Tiler.
Robert Tressell
19 Posted 29/04/2020 at 13:07:20
Gbamin can also fill in at centre-back (if he recovers)...

On an unrelated note, just seen (possibly bollocks) a report that we've put together a wages proposal to James Rodriguez. If he goes for it (less than £160,000 he is currently on), then Real might let him go for free (because they want the £160,000 off their books). This might hint at the future of transfer arrangements.

Also reinforces the idea that we could have one or two established stars next season (Coutinho, Rabiot etc) if we can cut a deal in wages. Not a bad thing in my book. Don't want a load of mercenaries turning up but one or two decorated but still motivated players will be good for lads like Holgate and Calvert-Lewin and Kean to learn from.

Derek Knox
20 Posted 29/04/2020 at 20:06:42
Robert @8, on a serious note for a change, if either or both, Gabriel and Todibo, have anything of Virgil van Dijk about them, as much as it pains me to say it, we would be transformed at the back.

Virgil has made a huge difference at the RS, and he never seems to get injured either. Even if we do shell out the alleged amounts, it would still be a bargain in today's silly terms, and a fraction of what they paid across the park.

Si Cooper
21 Posted 29/04/2020 at 20:19:54
I got a view of Branthwaite against Watford U23s. He looked pretty good to me (hard to really tell against limited opposition) and I'd expect him to be seriously challenging in a couple of years.

He had one 40- to 50-yard carry of the ball and very nearly played someone in at the end of it.

I'd be a little surprised if we were looking to bring in a load of young centre-backs... though decent competition for places is always welcome.

Robert Tressell
22 Posted 29/04/2020 at 20:24:58
Todibo in particular has that arrogance on the ball and confidence in his physique that Virgil has. But he's not at that level yet. Still, it's good to be linked with this sort of player. Feels likely one of these very promising deals will come off.
Darren Murphy
23 Posted 29/04/2020 at 22:20:25
Bob from down the road is willing to play too, he's 60, built like a brick shit house, and hmmm... about 6-ft odd.

MG – I left you a message on the other thread man.

Peter Warren
24 Posted 02/05/2020 at 08:28:13
Sam #2,

How do you know the majority of fans were sorry to see Gomes and Mina go? Do you live in Spain or know a lot of Barca fans?

Genuinely interested and I don't know any of their fans but, given those players were bit-part players and Barca have many excellent players, I was surprised to hear that.

Robert Tressell
25 Posted 02/05/2020 at 10:06:02
Peter, I think Sam meant it the other way around. Barca fans not sorry. Gomes had lost his way badly and Mina had barely played. So on the same page as you.

Barca fans now see Pique as over the hill (if the crappy news stories that fill my phone are anything to go by) and see Todibo as a good fresh start.

Conor McCourt
26 Posted 02/05/2020 at 10:19:00
Sam @12,

I can't believe your comments today. Last week, in an exchange, you were telling me that we didn't have a centre-back at the club who was good enough. If we replace Keane with Gabriel and add Todibo, who can't get a kick at Schalke, then this becomes your dream centre-halves?

Personally, I rate Holgate very highly but he's still relatively lightweight and inexperienced. I'm all for youth but I would want an experienced left-sided defender to partner him, with the only exception perhaps being Upamecano because he's so good.

Part of the disaster of Brands's approach last summer was that he assigned youngsters with filling key roles, ie, Gbamin as our fulcrum, Kean as our striker while losing key players which killed our season.

I haven't seen enough of Gabriel but to expect him to come in and hit the ground running, we need that position to be strong would be fanciful. I would much prefer to purchase Zouma and trade Keane. This is not an area to be taking gambles.

Robert Tressell
27 Posted 02/05/2020 at 13:03:06
Personally I think 4 centre-backs next season would be Holgate, Mina, Keane and one of Maghaeles or Todibo. Gibson then goes on loan.

As you say, Connor, Holgate is very good but still learning. Mina and Keane have their faults but are a bit more experienced and steady (and potentially pretty good in a more settled squad with a proper manager).

Maghaeles and Todibo look to have more quality than either (and Zouma for that matter) but might need a season or two to really bed in (as did Vidic and Evra at Man Utd for example).

Zouma will make us better, quicker – but Todibo / Maghaeles (esp the former) are players that can really take us up notch beyond Zouma but it may take time.

Conor McCourt
28 Posted 02/05/2020 at 13:30:26
Robert 27,

Before Zouma came to us, I wasn't his biggest fan but he is a solid quick centre-half in the mould of Distin and is tried and tested. If your analysis is correct, then I also think we could trade Zouma for Keane without a huge monetary difference and have Gabriel for competition and potential to be a cut above.

I disagree with you that Ancelotti will improve both Keane and Mina to a higher level than before. Last season, Keane produced his best ever season under Silva while Mina's form has suffered since the Italian's arrival. We can blame Silva for many things but their performances wouldn't be high on my list.

This summer, we need to at least ensure that we can put out an eleven we can trust and then build around. Man Utd would be a good template in that they bought Maguire and Bissaka to give them a solid base and they can then bring youth into each required position and build from there.

Robert Tressell
29 Posted 02/05/2020 at 15:50:06
I agree, Zouma is good. He's basically a better version of Mina and similar to Distin. But there's a reason Chelsea don't value him and Arsenal, Spurs etc wouldn't want him. He's just a bit limited on the ball.

With Keane and Zouma, the defense was very good. But it drags the whole team down if the centre-back pair can't use the ball well. That's why I like the idea of Todibo as he's extremely graceful with the ball.

Holgate is good too. As a pair, they'd be very young, too young and inexperienced for the Premier League. But, in a year or two, we might have a pairing that is Champions League standard – which Zouma falls a bit short of.

Personally I'd rather we reinforced midfield and right-wing before centre-back but, if we get a centre-back in, I'd ideally like it to be someone with real potential.

Sam Hoare
30 Posted 03/05/2020 at 11:04:34
Conor @26, which comments are you taking about?! I didn't make any yesterday!

I don't think I ever said we don't have any decent centre-backs, I think Mina and Holgate could be a very decent pair if given protection. I think Gabriel and Todibo could both be very good but both would need time, which I said. I rate Zouma highly and would happily get him if an option but he began to play for Lampard near the end so not sure it is.

As for Brands last summer, you really can't compare Gbamin and Kean. The former had played a lot of first-team minutes and established himself as was one of the best DMCs in Germany. The latter was a risk, a kid with seemingly great potential. If Gbamin had stayed fit I think he could have made a really big difference on our team once settled.

I'm with Robert in that I'd rather get players with high ceilings and great resales to blend in with a more experienced squad in an ideal world.

Sam Hoare
31 Posted 03/05/2020 at 11:23:20
Conor, I somehow missed the @12 bit in your post. Sorry.

Yes, I think a quartet of Mina, Holgate, Gabriel and Todibo would be superb. Perhaps the latter two may take time to settle or perhaps they hit the ground running. Who knows?

But, as Robert says, I think within a season or two that is a Champions League level of centre-back options and that's surely what we have to be aiming at? A mixture of power, pace, ball playing and smarts.

Perhaps risky to rely on younger players and that's one reason it won't happen. But I'd be excited and confident if it did!

Tony Everan
32 Posted 03/05/2020 at 12:04:40
We're being linked with Jesse Lingard today, probably his agent inventing stuff to survey the options, and there is nothing in it. I sincerely hope there's nothing in it anyway.
Tony Everan
33 Posted 03/05/2020 at 21:08:42

Being linked with a ''cut-price'' deal for one of your boys...

Everton are being linked with a cut-price deal for Toulouse midfielder Ibrahim Sangare.

France's Ligue 1 was ended last week due to the coronavirus pandemic which means the French side have now been relegated to the second tier.

i would imagine he will definitely move on and there will be quite a few clubs interested.

Sam Hoare
34 Posted 04/05/2020 at 08:08:06
Tony, Sangare will certainly move on. High chance he comes to the Premier League. I really hope it's to us!

Like Gabriel (and especially Todibo), he would be raw and would require a little patience. But he has all the qualities we need. He's big and powerful, he tackles frequently (had the 4th most tackles in Europe last year), he passes forward (the most passes into the box in France I believe this season), and he can dribble forward with the ball. His decision-making needs work and he'll benefit from better coaching and better teammates but he has the capacity to be a very complete midfielder.

He really could be our Yaya Toure and dominate the middle of the park. And all for £15m!

Tony Abrahams
35 Posted 04/05/2020 at 08:19:35
Connor @28, but Silva never got the sack last season, mate. One of the main reasons he got the sack this season, was because his centre-halves were all over the place.

He even ended up trying to play the three of them at the same time, which resulted in Everton shipping five goals in a Merseyside derby.

Brian Murray
36 Posted 04/05/2020 at 08:44:31
Tony @33. Doubt we would fall for the Man Utd nearly men again. It's a case of 3 times bitten twice shy. Stay safe. Null and void.
David Thomas
37 Posted 04/05/2020 at 09:16:54
Hi Sam,

I presume you watch Toulouse play regularly to suggest he could be like Toure?

Dave Abrahams
38 Posted 04/05/2020 at 09:24:54
I have never seen any of these proposed centre-backs that Everton might be interested in. They are all deemed to be a risk by fans who have seen them. Why spend money on these players? I'd sooner take a risk on one player we have got, Gibson and send Branthwaite, another player on the books, out on loan.

I think money is going to be scarce in the transfer market for the next couple of seasons and will not be spent on risky deals and I think free transfers and swap deals will be more prevalent.

Dave Abrahams
39 Posted 04/05/2020 at 09:35:11
Ah hey Lyndon he’s bleedin’ done it again BRAITHWAITE, I’d get his P45 and his comics ready if I was you.
Sam Hoare
40 Posted 04/05/2020 at 11:25:25
David @36; I've been following Sangare for about 2-3 years. Obviously there's a lot of players who ‘could' be the new Toure, or Messi, or whoever and the vast majority will never get close but I think for the reported price he looks a very sensible transfer.
Sam Hoare
41 Posted 04/05/2020 at 11:30:25
Dave @37,

I think Gibson may well feature next season. But I think as a regular starter he's even more risky than the likes of Gabriel and Todibo. His only first-team experience is less than 10 games in League One.

I think probable is that we bring in one new centre-back, possibly shift Keane if a good offer comes in (less likely now) and start the season with Holgate, Mina, new guy and Gibson as 4th choice. With Gbamin able to play centre-back potentially as well.

Dave Abrahams
42 Posted 04/05/2020 at 12:15:38
Sam (41), fair enough. I've never seen Gabriel or Todibo so I'd trust your judgement. I've got to say, though, Sam, that 10 games in League One is better than 40 or 50 games in the U23s and will have learned him a lot about the physical side of the game. Thanks for your post.
Conor McCourt
43 Posted 04/05/2020 at 12:15:46
Sam 31- It was on the Gabriel thread "we barely have one useful CB or CM. Or RM. Or RB for that matter" and you stated in the discussion that these were your priorities. I'm not getting at you but it just shocked me that bringing in those two youngsters would have had such a dramatic change in your thinking.

I don't doubt either Robert's or your judgement on the players nor on Zouma's limitations which I agree with, but I feel that the Mina Holgate partnership isn't strong enough and really want to see Mason moved to his more natural side with a strong partner.

It seems to me that yourself and Robert are being a little idealistic rather than practical. I personally don't think that Carlo can afford to wait a year or two for these players to acclimatise and develop and some never do i.e. Bakayoko at Chelsea.

Tony 35- Ancelotti may improve Keane from this seasons form, indeed he already has but my point is that Silva didn't make Keane the limited player that he is. Mina I have a lot more belief in but his form has dipped under Carlo and we haven't exactly stopped shipping goals since Silva has departed. I think having a three of Zouma, Holgate and Mina would give us a stable platform to build from for the next few seasons.

Tony Everan
44 Posted 04/05/2020 at 12:16:13
I am concerned about Gbamin's fitness and that he may break down again during a long hard season. Sangare could be a very necessary backup at a realistic price and would push to be a starter anyway. Everton could be a good match for him at this stage, to get games and develop his talent to the full.

Seems strange the transfer window still opening June 10th as far as I can see, with a quarter of the season left! There will be a lot of head scratching going on as to the implications.

Sam Hoare
45 Posted 04/05/2020 at 13:36:53
Conor @43, yes I think it was more in comparison to our centre-forward position, where I feel we are pretty well stocked with Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin being two very decent forwards and Kean (possibly not now?) having potential to build upon.

In descending priority, I'd say we need central-midfield, right-midfield, centre-back and then right-back.

I think Robert and I are being idealistic but there is some evidence of such idealism working with clubs like Dortmund and Leipzig. Or possibly Spurs in the Premier League.

The best way to build a team able to compete at the top is often to buy younger players with the potential to improve hugely with a mix of more experienced professionals; Spurs did this to a degree 5 or so years back with Eriksen, Son, Alli etc mixing with Vertonghen, Aldeweireld, Trippier etc.

Like I said I think Mina and Holgate are decent. I agree they are not an ideal partnership. I would expect (hope) Gabriel to hit the ground running and be an excellent, left-footed partner for either of them (depending on the opposition). And Todibo has some outstanding qualities that would make him a good 4th choice.

I'd expect that quartet to be pretty good next season and extremely good in a few years time. But I'd also happily take Zouma (or possibly Tomori) if he was available, he's a lower risk option and I'm a fan. We certainly need some more pace at centre-back and I don't see a lot of available options that fit that bill in the Premier League or Championship (though Ben White is an interesting option).

Sam Hoare
46 Posted 04/05/2020 at 13:41:45
Dave @42, yes, strongly agree. I sort of hope he gets another loan at top of league one or even Championship. I think that would be much better than waiting around for some games with us. If he could get 30 odd games next season for a mid-table team that allows defenders to pass it a bit (like Swansea) then that would be absolutely ideal for his development I reckon.

Conor McCourt
47 Posted 04/05/2020 at 14:18:07
Sam that's a bit more like the answer I was hoping for regarding Gabriel as we need someone ready asap. I was fishing for you to tell me he was the next Beckenbauer so I needn't worry.

I think you perhaps don't understand my thought process because of my posts on this thread. I am for the strategy you are suggesting and I much preferred how we tried to develop the squad under Martinez and Moyes than the Koeman and Allardyce model.

However where your argument falls down is that Spurs even with their young squad had the experience of Alderweireld to match the youth of Vertonghen and his presence was vital. We both agree that Holgate should play on the right so I feel a slightly more experienced player is necessary for their knowhow and leadership. The Bundesliga and the Premier League are totally different animals especially for Centre Backs.

I really like Tomori and feel he will be some player but would prefer Zouma for reasons outlined. Once we have an excellent first eleven then perhaps next season we could look at a fourth younger type that has the potential to eclipse Zouma if Gibson doesn't progress as hoped.

Harry Wallace
48 Posted 04/05/2020 at 15:54:00
Would be a fantastic signing.
Sam Hoare
49 Posted 04/05/2020 at 16:02:33
Conor, yes I agree. A blend of youth and experience is preferable in an ideal world. That's what I meant about Spurs buying the likes of Aldeweireld, Trippier and Wanyama, they bought some players who were Premier League tested (though all with their best years ahead of them). Zouma falls perfectly into this category, he's played a lot of games in the Premier League but he's still only 25. If he were available, he'd be right up there with Gabriel for me. Perhaps ahead.

But we do need talent. And pace. And ideally someone left-footed. So if you were asking me to decide between Gabriel and let's say Lewis Dunk (who's a very good defender), I'd pick Gabriel. I suppose Ake would be a more experienced option but neither him nor Holgate are dominant in the air. I guess its about how many boxes you can tick; I think Gabriel could tick quite a few. But hopefully Brands has a much better idea than me anyway!

Conor McCourt
50 Posted 04/05/2020 at 16:15:11
Good stuff, Sam.
Jay Harris
51 Posted 04/05/2020 at 16:58:49
I'm sure I read somewhere that Todibo has had a few injury problems, which is a bit of a concern at his age.

I think all our centre-backs will be transformed by a top-class defensive midfielder.

David Thomas
52 Posted 04/05/2020 at 17:30:40

Vertonghen is older than Toby.


Without wanting to be rude, have you ever seen any of these players play or are you just going off what you have read on other teams forums and websites?

Sam Hoare
53 Posted 04/05/2020 at 18:22:36
David, I've not watched Toulouse play live no. But I have watched quite a few extended highlights and the odd 90 minutes. I've also read a fair few reports on him, some by amateurs and a few by professional scouts. I've also looked a lot at his statistics for the past few seasons and how he rates compared to his peers on a wide variety of sites and analyses.

I'm definitely not a scout or anything (though I have considered it). But I think I have read and seen enough to give at least a minimally informed opinion.

David Thomas
54 Posted 04/05/2020 at 19:04:36
Sam, to be honest, I just find that, whenever we are linked with someone, however, whether it's a household name or someone who has played a handful of games in an obscure league, there is always someone on this site who starts giving a detailed analysis of a player when it's quite clear all they have done is just gone on Google, typed in the name of said player, and read a few articles.

Sam Hoare
55 Posted 04/05/2020 at 19:40:40
David, that someone is probably me! No doubt I like to appear more knowledgeable than I actually am (a lot of us do) but I figure that, even if we know something tiny of the player, it may be worth passing it on to those who can't be bothered to google!
Tony Everan
56 Posted 05/05/2020 at 17:20:07
Sam, I would rather hear a solid Evertonian’s opinion of a player than read some google report. Anyway when you flag a player like Sangare, who sounds like he could be an asset to our midfield, it makes a few of us do a bit of research on him too.
Sam Hoare
57 Posted 05/05/2020 at 17:32:25
Thanks Tony! Been keen on Sangare for a while. Think he'd be a bargain now Toulouse are relegated though he's not without flaws and there are some other excellent all round midfielders out there. Rabiot and Zakaria are high up my list. Will probably do one my transfer articles in a few weeks.
Ray Said
58 Posted 05/05/2020 at 18:10:36
Tony (56) I agree with you. Some of those fans have 40-50 years of blues watching under their belt and know an 'EFC type' player better than most of the highly paid scouts and data analysts. Those same fans have quickly spotted that some of the players those highly paid scouts and analysts have recommended were crap and a poor fit for the club. Trust your eyes and not what some statistical graph shows.
David Thomas
59 Posted 05/05/2020 at 19:37:18
I agree 100% with trust your eyes rather than what some data shows you. The point is there tends to be a lot of people talking about players that they've never seen and they are simply looking on websites saying he had a lot of shots, or he had a lot of assists etc, so he must be good. Not taking into account the quality of that league the quality of opposition etc etc.
Ray Said
60 Posted 05/05/2020 at 19:53:16
David (59) good point and I did mean that you must have seen the player a few times to make the assessment valid.
Sam Hoare
61 Posted 05/05/2020 at 19:59:19
Ray and David, the scouts who I know and respect believe its 50/50. The eye test is very important but equally can be prone to being mislead (especially with regards to your own team). The right statistics and comparisons (and there are alot of wrong, unhelpful ones) can also be very useful.

The RS have been one of the PL pioneers recently in terms of trusting statistical analyses to a greater extent and it's worked out very well for them. But of course it has to be balanced with what you see.

This was an interesting blog that I read on that balance:

Football is constantly adapting. As research into science, medicine, and technology continues to push the boundaries in terms of what we previously knew and understood, football has been a beneficiary. Or, has at least gone with the times.

Whether you prefer the robotic, tactically disciplined, athletic nature of the modern day game compared to previous generations is down to you and how you see the game.

However, no one can argue that sports science and data hasn’t had a huge effect on how the game is played, coached and observed.

But has it gone too far? To the point where data is so heavily relied upon that it actually misconstrues the capabilities and stylistic suitability of a player for a team, league, and manager etc.

This article isn’t looking at data, and how it’s used to assess players specifically, in a negative manner. More, simply looking at how data is used.

Data used to assess players and their suitability as a potential new signing is a welcome and necessary addition to player evaluation.

Research and technology has become so advanced, you can quantify data to find the perfect player that hits every target you are looking for. At least, that’s what the data tells you.

That is where the issue can lie. Data that is available is so detailed nowadays that players can be bought and sold almost purely based on the findings through a computer screen.

Think ‘Moneyball’. Except Billy Beane never won the world series.

Now it is important to preface this that the vast, vast majority of those involved in professional football won’t make, often multimillion pound decisions, purely off of what figures tell you when you open a document.

Football is ever improving in how it departmentalises staff and expertise. Clubs will appoint data analysts, many of whom are purely focussed on quantifying data.

This has a huge benefit as it can really narrow down the search for the profile of player you are looking for. In simpler terms, it is incredibly unlikely that a player can go under the radar, providing the professional club has the monetary resources.

That data will then be presented to, perhaps, a head of recruitment for example, and then the eye test will be conducted to ensure the data matches up.

This is the way player analysis should go. But we are already seeing the scales tipped towards an over reliance on data; mostly from people on the outside of professional clubs who don’t have the financial capability to ‘do it all’ when assessing a player.

The influence of people with opinions outside of professional football clubs is ever-growing. And quite often, to great effect. Football looking towards those who didn’t necessarily play to a high level of the game for employment is becoming a more common occurrence.

And there is nothing wrong with that concept. I didn’t play professional football, however my track record of improving professional’s and academy players despite being only 25 years old is something I am incredibly proud of.

However, you have to take the rough with the smooth. And a lot of people are now getting roles in football due to their ability to analyse in microscopic detail, much of the time due to their access to data. And that can lead to an ever-growing reliance on data to assess players. Data shouldn’t be relied upon. It should be used to quantify and support the eye test. But the eye, and social/emotional test should always take precedence.

One of my roles in football is as an analyst. But not a data analyst. I assess players based on what I see. And I do so in microscopic detail. Some may say that I can afford to do this because I’m not signing multi-million pound players for a team. But I am pushing those players towards clubs so I have to make sure my analysis and belief that the player fits the club is strong.

If you want to look at specific examples of where data can be misconstrued in providing analysis, lets focus on a few players.

For example, Davinson Sanchez has averaged 1.9 tackles per game in the league this season. Virgil Van Dijk has averaged 0.8.

Is Sanchez a more dominant centre-back than Van Dijk? No of course not. Those figures are largely misconstrued due to a number of factors. Sanchez has far more tackles to make due to Spurs being far more open than Liverpool. Van Dijk is also a master in the art of jockeying; shepherding opponents away from danger to avoid needing to make the tackle.

Now of course, this is just one, rather basic piece of data that is being looked at in isolation. However, if we look at another piece of data, Sanchez has tackled players who try to dribble past him 35.4% of the time. Harry Maguire stands at 37%, reasonably similar.

Sanchez is also 188cm tall, and weighs 77kg. Maguire is also 188cm tall and weighs 79kg.

All of this paints the picture of Sanchez and Maguire being physically imposing players who can dominate their opponents in duels. According to data.

However, the eye test shows you that Magure is far more physically imposing than Sanchez is.

For example, Sanchez has rather pinched in shoulders and a wiry, narrow frame. This can lead to a likelihood of him getting rolled by strikers he tussles with. On a few occasions for Spurs now, Sanchez has overstated his own strength and physical prowess. He has tried to regain possession by outmuscling his opponents. However, due to his pinched in shoulders and narrow frame, as well as his tendency to tip slightly forward when he runs, this means he can struggle to stabilise himself when challenging, and have issues with widening his body circumference to shield opponents away from the ball. Instead, strikers have used his weight against him, secure themselves, and rolled away to then take advantage of the space Sanchez has left.

This doesn’t happen to Maguire, a much broader and sturdier frame. If Maguire uses his body, he is going to come out on top.

The data used here hasn’t highlighted these major differences between the two, but the eye test certainly has.

This isn’t a dig at Sanchez. He is an excellent young centre back with a lot of potential and if he can learn how to use his body correctly and steady himself, could go on to become a mainstay in the Spurs backline for years. This is purely looking at how data alone can misconstrue certain attributes when assessing a player.

There are plenty more cases worldwide where data can present an inaccurate image of a player if used in isolation.

Ibrahim Sangare is one of the most talented young number 6/8’s in Europe. If you profile his data you get a defensive and athletic monster who is also an excellent ball progressor over longer distances. And this is true, the eye test also backs that up.

But what the eye test shows that data doesn’t is the aura of Sangare. He is incredibly dynamic, which data shows, but also often chaotic in terms of style. It is harder for data to show that.

This style would suit plenty of sides. But what if the team is looking for a more measured presence. A calming screener. Data can of course highlight this with regards to heat maps and other detailed statistics, but the eye test is what confirms how perhaps a Zakaria is the more measured approach compared to Sangare in terms of mentality, aura and style. Sangare has a progressive first touch to evade pressure, as does Zakaria. Data shows that. But Zakaria has a deftness in touch. A subtlety and calmness that brings peace to the situation around him. Data can not quantify that, or the effect that ‘style’ has on his team mates for example.

Two excellent young players, two similar profiles regarding data in many respects, however completely different with regards to aura and style.

Data is a positive and necessary addition, and the vast majority of professionals use it correctly. However, there is no question that we are heading towards a game that is becoming far more data orientated and if used incorrectly, that can have a devastating effect on clubs and players.

Robert Tressell
62 Posted 05/05/2020 at 21:56:08
Always good to string out a rumour. For what it's worth, I think Sangare has a lot of good attributes. Some of those attributes he shares with Gbamin - big unit, fast, breaks play and decent technical skills.

Sangare appears to be more of a hunter of the ball (as was Gueye) than a defensive screen (as is Gbamin from what I have seen). But still doubt they'd line up well together due to similarities. Either of Sangare / Gbamin + Gomes in a midfield 2 might work.

My preference would be a midfield trio of Gbamin, Gomes and (I know I keep mentioning him) Rabiot. Nice blend of skill, dynamism, composure, discipline and physicality. Rabiot alternatives include Marc Roca of Espanyol, Hojbjerg of Southampton, Tolisso of Bayern, possibly Ndombele of Spurs and then more obscure players like Eggestein, Arambarri and Almendra. To me this is the most important signing as we won't score / defend goals until we get the midfield sorted.

Tony Everan
63 Posted 06/05/2020 at 12:26:38
Wouldn't be surprised to see both Zakaria and Sangare in the Premier League next season. Man Utd rumoured to be interested in signing Zakaria so we may have a fight on our hands if we decided to go for him. Transfermkt have him valued at €33M but I bet Borussia would be after more.
Sam Hoare
64 Posted 06/05/2020 at 13:41:45
Robert, I agree midfield is a priority. I think Sangare and Gbamin could be a great partnership potentially. There are similarities but also crucial differences. Gbamin is a better sitter and has very decent long ball distribution whereas Sangare drives forwards with the ball much more and completes alot of short passes into and around the box. Neither has the technical skill of Gomes but I don't think there's many midfields that would relish playing against Gbamin and Sangare.

I think Rabiot would be really great but like Zakaria, he will probably have more glamourous options than us. I like Roca and Hojberg though both could do with a little more pace. Tolisso is great and I rate Ndombele highly but again I'd be suprised if we could bag either. Eggenstein is a very interesting option. Not heard of Arambarri or Almendra; thanks for that.

Sam Hoare
65 Posted 06/05/2020 at 13:43:31
Tony, yes I fear Zakaria may have better options than us. And will likely cost north of £30m. But perhaps we could offer a better guarantee of first team minutes which he'd not be as likely to get at United, Liverpool, Bayern etc.
Robert Tressell
66 Posted 06/05/2020 at 13:53:31
Arambarri is part of a very effective 2-man centre-midfield at Getafe with the Serb Maksimovic. Both are hard runners with quality. Hard to find much footage of either but a few articles /or stats etc and Getafe have had a tremendous year.

Almendra is one of a lot of quality young midfielders Argentina. He has quality, drive, good technique and physicality to play box to box. The trouble is with these players is thst the standard in Argentina is patchy you don't know whether you're getting the new Redondo for a bargain for or paying over the odds for the Argentine Tom Cleverly.

Maybe Gbamin, Sangare and Gomes would work. It would certainly be hard to play against and would also release the forwards from undue defensive work...

Tony Everan
67 Posted 06/05/2020 at 19:36:56
Robert, Sam It’s really interesting to focus in on the centre midfield. It’s going to be really crucial signing for Ancelotti. I think he will want someone who translates his thinking onto the pitch.

There was a game towards the end were we conceded really soft goals and I remember Ancelotti’s reaction. He was devastated that we could be so loose defensively as a team and so disjointed as a defensive unit. Many of the great Italian teams were built in being mean, tigerish in midfield and aggressive as hell in defence. He has seen our shortcomings first hand and will fully know that he needs that uncompromising midfield unit as a prerequisite. We need a hard as nails leader in there, a solid fearsome player who can make a team tick and inspire confidence in his fellow centre midfielder and central defenders.

I think Brands will be giving Carlo a list of players but to get the guaranteed outcome Ancelotti will want someone he knows. I think he will be after Allen of Napoli as his no1 target. All new managers get to sign a key player regardless of the clubs normal recruiting criteria, I think Allen will be Carlo’s. If not another who he knows will perform.

He will be 29 and on a lot of money and that is contrary to what seems good business, but we have to give Carlo his man and trust him to build the team on his terms.

Mike Gaynes
68 Posted 06/05/2020 at 20:01:40
You guys might enjoy this article, Bill Barnwell at ESPNFC:

Ranking the 50 worst Premier League transfers of all time

Niasse, Krøldrup and Bolasie are on the list, near the bottom of the 50 – Jeffers and Rodwell much higher.

Robert Tressell
69 Posted 07/05/2020 at 09:03:11
Good article, Mike. Some horrors there and we've had our fair share. Some interesting principles come out of it:

1. Beware strikers from weak leagues (about ⅓ of the list)

2. Don't buy players that don't suit your style of play (Veron, Krøldrup)

3. Don't buy someone who is coming only grudgingly and for the money (Di Maria)

4. A good World Cup or Euros showing does not translate well to Premier League form (Brolin)

5. Don't believe the hype about most English youngsters – often deeply average (our very own Jack Rodwell)

6. Check for alcohol, mental health, drugs issues & injury records too (Hargreaves, Mutu, Balotteli)

Not rocket science really.

Sam Hoare
70 Posted 07/05/2020 at 09:31:35
Good article, Mike.

Robert, yes though I wonder if we can think of exceptions to all those rules though.

1. Erling Haland or Jamie Vardy.
2. Hard to quantify... maybe Arteta or Pienaar, players who relied on skill and technique in a mostly workmanlike outfit.
3. Robinho (first season), Yaya Toure
4. Antonio Valencia, Gilberto Silva, Dan Petrescu
5. Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling
6. Cantona, Merson, Gascoigne, Royston Drenthe!

Robert Tressell
71 Posted 07/05/2020 at 09:58:33
The exceptions are how the good scouts earn their money. Some observations though:

- I saw a load of videos of Haaland as a very young kid in Norway. Looked a bit gangly and standard of play defending looked terrible. Looked like he might find his level in Scotland to me. Shows how much I know.

- Arteta had played in Scotland and had shown he could handle the cut & thrust

- Petrescu was a failure at Sheffield Wednesday because they mistook him for a right-back (succeeded at Chelsea because he did suit their style of play)

- I'm convinced Cantona was a happy accident for Man Utd. They wanted Shearer or David Hirst, I think, and turned to Cantona as a wild card 'big lad' who could lead the line.

- Not sure Drenthe fits into the exceptions rule! Although he was briefly my favourite player at Everton.

Darren Murphy
72 Posted 08/05/2020 at 21:36:34
Blah, blah, rumours,

Still nobody enjoyed these and commented sure they didn't.

Cracker Goals:

Excellent Everton Goals

Ian Bennett
73 Posted 16/05/2020 at 15:13:26
Looks pretty average vs Dortmund. Not what we need at centre-back for me.
Alan J Thompson
74 Posted 16/05/2020 at 16:03:59
Bill Barnwell? Why does that bring the name Bill Bothwell to mind.
Ged Mchale
75 Posted 21/05/2020 at 18:07:35
I watched Todibo against Schalke, I wasn't impressed. He was crap. I would be disappointed if we signed him, there's got to be a lot better options out there.
Anthony Dove
76 Posted 05/08/2020 at 17:32:49
I don't know the size of our budget but I feel extra central defenders is not the priority, and that the addition of a calm and experienced keeper would make a big difference.

In any event, the priority is new midfielders.

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