McNeil, Chukwueze, Hwang, Bailey: Analysing Everton’s Transfer Targets

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Evidently, Everton need more pace in the squad. The absence of progressive dribblers seemingly dictated the way in which they played last season, with the side struggling to create due to the lack of such players. Sound technical individuals are (almost) in abundance throughout the squad, however, players such as James Rodriguez, Lucas Digne, and Gylfi Sigurdsson need pacey players playing alongside them in order to make the most of their passing abilities. Breaking teams down becomes much harder when your players are static upon receiving the ball, and Everton found this out last season, particularly at home when dominating possession. Along with an attacking right-back, Everton need pacey wide players who can run at the opposition and be creative through the chaos they cause.

Much to fans’ delight, ‘The Athletic’ recently linked Everton with three exciting attacking players. The club are reportedly interested in Leon Bailey, Samuel Chukwueze (below), and Hwang Hee-Chan. Following this news, the club were then linked with Burnley’s highly-rated winger, Dwight McNeil.

All four players appear to be good options for the blues, but who should Everton prioritise in this transfer window? Using ‘FBRef’ these players have been statistically compared. The analysis also included current Everton “wingers” Bernard and Alex Iwobi to use as a benchmark. All data is from league matches from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

As previously mentioned, Everton need players who can progressive the ball through their dribbling. This commits opposition players, creating space for others, and therefore making it easier to create chances.

As seen in the graph, Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey, and Villareal’s Samuel Chukwueze rank as the best dribblers and progressive carriers of the six players. Over the last two seasons, Bailey averaged 7.24 progressive carries per 90 minutes, and 3.62 successful dribbles, whilst Chukwueze averaged 9.42 progressive carries per 90 minutes, and 2.88 successful dribbles. This ability to commit players and progress the ball contributes to them having the highest levels of creativity out of the six. This is represented in the graph below:

The superiority of Bailey and Chukwueze in regards to dribbling and creativity highlights that they should be the best options offensively out of the four rumoured players. However when analysing attacking output, Bailey is clear of Chukwueze:

Therefore, it can be argued that Leon Bailey should be the player who Everton try to acquire this summer because of his strengths in progressive dribbles, creativity, and attacking output.

When comparing expected assists and non-penalty goals, Hwang ranks very highly.  This is probably because he plays primarily as a centre-forward. Currently at RB Leipzig, the 25 year-old South Korean can also play as a winger, but is far more experienced as a striker. Everton will probably be looking to sign a striker as back-up to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and so Hwang could be a versatile option to cover both the striker and winger roles. However, the winger acquisition should be one of Everton’s biggest priorities in the transfer window, and so Everton should favour a more natural winger with better creativity and dribbling.

Playing in such a hard-working Leipzig side, Hwang (above) does boast defensive capabilities that could be useful for an Everton side who could look to replicate their impressive defensive solidity of last season. As shown below, the current Everton players, as well as Hwang and McNeil tend to work harder defensively than Bailey and Chukwueze (who are better offensively).

Leipzig’s high-pressing style leads to Hwang making 26.9 pressures per 90; the most of the six players. Although the hard-work and defending would likely be appreciated by new Everton manager, Rafa Benitez, such high-pressing football probably won’t be played. It’s likely that Everton will defend deeper, much like they did last season, and much like Dwight McNeil’s Burnley do every season. McNeil’s pressures and defensive contributions are similar to that of current Everton players, Bernard and Iwobi. Furthermore, unlike Hwang, McNeil is actually a winger. The 21-year-old Englishman is a good crosser, helping to utilise Burnley’s two big strikers’ heading ability. This is something that could be replicated at Everton due to the aerial threat of both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. In terms of being used to Everton’s likely style of play, being used to the league, being younger than the other three options, and having a crossing ability that could bring the best out of Everton’s forwards, McNeil (below) would be a decent option.

However, as previously established, Leon Bailey appears the most impressive when analysing creativity, dribbling, and output. Furthermore, over the last two seasons Bailey averaged the most crosses of the six players analysed, with 3.87 per 90 minutes. This was even more than McNeil, who was second with 3.43.

This further indicates that Leon Bailey (below) could be Everton’s best option out of the four rumoured players.

Because he’s so good, the 23-year-old Jamaican would be expensive. Despite only having two years left on his contract, he would probably cost around £35/40 million. Along with the right-back position, this role is where Everton should prioritise and so should spend big if necessary and if able to do so.

Let us know who you think Everton should sign, and make sure to check out the Toffee TV YouTube channel for more Everton news:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGW8QX7RCU_UBKKcDRN0Dgg