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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Everton Should Be Looking To Sign This Chelsea Winger…

I think Everton should be considering a loan deal for Chelsea’s 20-year-old winger, Callum Hudson-Odoi.

In just two games Everton have already benefitted from playing with genuine wingers, with Demarai Gray particularly standing out. Gray’s potential impact was analysed here:https://www.toffeetvefc.com/how-demarai-gray-will-improve-everton-analysing-evertons-new-signings/. We’ve already seen how his pace, and ability to carry the ball gives Everton’s attack another dimension, and certainly something that was lacking last season. The attributes of Gray look integral to the team’s style-of-play, and so much so, that Everton should be looking to add a similarly pacey, and direct winger to further improve the attack.

Besides Gray, Everton only have Andros Townsend, Alex Iwobi, and potentially Richarlison to play on the wing. Other than the seemingly departing James Rodriguez, Richarlison is Everton’s best player and so should be utilised more centrally, where he thrives. Although Iwobi provides good link-up play, and Townsend offers solid defensive work and accurate crossing, neither really provide the pace and direct running of Demarai Gray.

Callum Hudson-Odoi would offer similar attributes. Furthermore, with the abundance of Chelsea attacking options, the 20-year-old is likely to be behind around six players in the pecking order for Chelsea’s front three. Romelu Lukaku, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and Christian Pulisic all appear to be more favoured by Thomas Tuchel.

Hudson-Odoi has been played at right-wing-back, but even here, Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta are going to play more. With Hudson-Odoi playing the equivalent of just under twelve 90 minute games in the league last season, it would make sense for Chelsea to be looking to loan the player out, before selling for a big fee; a business model they’ve become very familiar with.

Everton have loaned players from Chelsea recently (Kurt Zouma and Romelu Lukaku) and a player of Hudson-Odoi’s ability would receive regular minutes, consequently benefitting both clubs. With Everton seemingly unable to spend big because of FFP restrictions, the club are likely to look for loan deals and more free transfers before the window ends.

Unfortunately for Everton, the player is supposedly on around £100,000 per week after signing a lucrative new contract last year. However, with the players Everton have offloaded, and with potentially more to come like the presumably high-earning, James Rodriguez, it seems likely that funds for wages will be available. A scenario in which Chelsea and Everton share the cost of the player’s wages could happen as it’s unlikely that any club would happily pay six-figure wages to loan Hudson-Odoi.

Through analysing statistics, we’ve evaluated Callum Hudson-Odoi’s attributes. Statistics from this article are from the FBRef website. The graphs incorporated combine data from the 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22 Premier League seasons.

Gray’s ability to run past players, and then cross the ball has been a noticeable benefit to Benitez’s Everton in their two opening games. Hudson-Odoi also boasts these attributes, and even more so than Gray. Last season, out of players who played more than 1000 Premier League minutes, Hudson-Odoi registered the most progressive carries per 90 minutes, with 13.6. This edged the likes of Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva, and Adama Traore.

As seen in the graph below, the Chelsea winger progressively carries the ball far more often than Everton’s current wide options.

Furthermore, Hudson-Odoi averages more crosses than Everton’s existing wingers, with 4.44 per 90 minutes. This frequency of crosses could really benefit Dominic Calvert-Lewin especially, who scored the most headed goals of any Premier League player last season.

In fact, when analysing wingers and attacking midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the last year, Hudson-Odoi ranks in the 98th percentile for progressive carries, and the 91st percentile for crosses.

As well as carrying the ball and putting crosses in, Hudson-Odoi also likes to carry the ball into the penalty area and be creative. The 20-year-old has registered 4.78 shot-creating-actions per 90 minutes over the last couple of seasons; far more than Iwobi and Townsend in particular. This is outlined in the graph below.

This creativity is perhaps helped by his willingness to progress the ball into dangerous areas; a skill largely absent from Everton’s attack last season. Hudson-Odoi ranks in the 99th percentile (for wingers and attacking midfielders in top five leagues) for carrying the ball into the penalty area.

This ability to run into the penalty and create also contributes to Hudson-Odoi registering a good number of expected assists. He ranks in the 79th percentile for this, as well as outranking Everton’s current wingers.

Despite this, Demarai Gray averages around double the amount of goals. Hudson-Odoi often operating as a right-wing-back under Thomas Tuchel may have contributed to this lack of goals, as he probably isn’t getting in to goalscoring positions. His xG being in the 19th percentile perhaps highlights this, although his goals per 90 are in the 58th percentile, which shows a good finishing ability.

This more defensive position that Hudson-Odoi has occupied under Tuchel may have helped him become a better defender. The young winger’s defensive statistics suggest he could operate within Rafa Benitez’s hard-working and occasionally pragmatic style-of-play. Over the last year, Hudson-Odoi (for attacking-midfielders and wingers in the top five leagues) ranks in the 96th percentile for percentage of dribblers tackled, as well as the 95th percentile for percentage of successful pressures. Aside from the percentages, he shows high frequencies for a wide range of defensive work, but this will be impacted by him played at wing-back and so defending more often.

Regardless, the data suggests that he’s defensively capable; a much-valued consideration if being recruited to play in this Rafa Benitez Everton side.

Hudson-Odoi could contribute significantly to Everton’s creativity and general attacking play, providing similarly exciting attributes to Demarai Gray. It’s a deal that probably won’t happen (his wages could provide an issue), but I’d definitely like to see it.

Let us know who you think Everton should sign.

Make sure to check out the Toffee TV YouTube channel for more Everton content:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGW8QX7RCU_UBKKcDRN0Dgg

More Toffee TV articles are available to read here:https://www.toffeetvefc.com/

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