Statistical Analysis

Hot-shot Belotti best placed to fill Costa’s boots at Chelsea

Thu, 13 July 2017, 8:48

Antonio Conte must have a real transfer headache.

His plan to bomb out star striker Diego Costa and replace him with Everton's Romelu Lukaku fell apart when Manchester United hijacked the move and landed the Belgian – the only trouble being this came after Conte had already told Costa by text that he wasn’t wanted next season.

With a reconciliation with Costa seemingly out of the question, Conte now has to find a man to lead the line for the Premier League winners, with the added stresses of a Champions League campaign to contend with next term

So, who are the runners and riders to step into Costa’s boots at Stamford Bridge?

Seemingly it’s between three – Torino’s Andrea Belotti, Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, and Swansea’s Fernando Llorente.

Llorente is the only one with Premier League experience, having impressed in the Swans’ relegation battle last season, netting 15 times to keep his side up.

His CV is impressive too, with World Cup and European Championship medals for Spain, as well as three Serie A title wins when playing for Conte at Juventus.

The 32-year-old’s age may count against him, however, as will his stats compared to his rivals. The only category he comes out on top in is aerial duels, and his low score in take-ons per game may see him overlooked.

Morata was expected to end up at Old Trafford, but United’s surprise swoop for Lukaku shelved any plans to sign the Madrid man.

He too has spent time at Juventus, and was part of Real’s Champions League winning squad last season, but a relative lack of action in Spain (he only started 14 matches) means he is on the lookout for a new club.

His stats are impressive despite this, however, scoring 20 times in all competitions last season, and boasting a clinical shot accuracy of 60%.

However, the best statistics belong to Torino’s Belotti, who enjoyed a breakout year in Serie A last term.

Netting 26 goals at an average of 0.74 per game, he was also a real creative force for Il Toro, laying on 1.20 chances per game for his team-mates.

Impressively, he makes 0.69 tackles per game too, nearly three times as many as Costa – perfect for Conte’s desired all-action striker to lead the Blues line.

At just 23, the Italian could improve even further, especially when moving from a team that came 9th in Serie A to the English champions.

These stats show he might not just be able to live up to Costa last season – but he might even surpass him.

Of course, Lukaku himself has plenty of pressure on him to replace a star striker.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted 28 times as United won the League Cup and Europa League, as the legendary Swede won the hearts of the Old Trafford faithful.

Lukaku himself scored 26 times for Everton, and given his more impressive goals/game, shot accuracy, and take on stats, could well be set to emulate the big Swede.

There still could be work to do, however. Lukaku ranks well below Zlatan for shots/game, with the oft-said criticism being that he goes missing at times in matches.

He also lagged behind for aerial duels won and chances created per game – something Jose Mourinho will be keen for him to improve in a Red Devils shirt next term.

Another striking transfer that has already gone through is the £52m signing of Alexandre Lacazette by Arsenal.

The former Lyon striker has been brought in to bolster a faltering forward line, led by fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud.

And looking at the stats, it’s clear to see why.

Lacazette clearly outranks his international team mate in goals, shots, chances created and shot accuracy – enough for Arsene Wenger to dip into his pocket to land the highly coveted striker.

While this may have been in the relatively weaker Ligue 1, Arsenal fans will certainly hope they’ve upgraded on their French striking options.

That might not be the only transfer business conducted at the Emirates this summer.

The Gunners are seemingly in the market for another attacking-midfielder, and look to be choosing between Thomas Lemar and Riyad Mahrez – something that could be quickened should Alexis Sanchez leave.

Mahrez won the PFA Player of the Year award in 2016 but certainly underachieved last season, leading to Lemar’s stats outranking the Leicester man.
21-year-old Lemar led Monaco to the Champions League semi-final and Ligue 1 title last term, and certainly looks the man for Wenger to go for.

However, if the Lukaku saga shows us anything, it’s that nothing is certain until a player puts pen to a contract – and there could be a few more twists and turns before the transfer window slams shut.

Statistical Analysis discovers hidden trends and values in major gambling events by deciphering both contemporary stats and historical data. We derive our probabilities from history, not just betting odds, so you don't have to.

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