Edson Alvarez and Ibrahim Sangare offer Everton alternative to € 100million transfer

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In his first interview as director of football, Kevin Thelwell explained that Everton’s transfer recruitment policy was going to change, but with manager Frank Lampard wanting to revamp his midfield, just what sort of target should the Blues be looking at?

This correspondent examines the issue in today’s Royal Blue column given that the ECHO revealed earlier this week that Everton and Tottenham Hotspur have held talks over a deal for Harry Winks while Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko remains an alternative / There is also support among many in the fanbase for Lampard to utilize his connections at Stamford Bridge and try to bring in Conor Gallagher in a potential part-exchange deal if Chelsea act upon their interest in Richarlison.

Explaining how Goodison Park chiefs would now be trying to be a different kind of player, Thelwell said: “In terms of how it works going forwards, it will be very collaborative. We’ve got a good department, we’ve got some good people and so we’re going to harness the expertise that they’ve got there and then get Frank and the coaching team to be heavily involved and heavily included in terms of player search, and then understand how Frank wants to play, and how we see the team playing going forwards, and be very clear about what we recruit from this point on. So hopefully we build a team that’s a bit more consistent, a bit more stable and is also very clear about what their roles and responsibilities are on the pitch. ”

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Many supporters already have their opinions about the aforementioned names on Everton’s radar but if the Blues were to cast their net across Europe, adopting a scientific, statistics-based approach to their scouting as made famous by the film Moneyball in which Brad Pitt played Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team – who Liverpool owners FSG unsuccessfully attempted to lure to their Boston Red Sox franchise – who might they unearth? First of all some relevant parameters would have to be established.

Only players with 14 or more successful defensive actions per game are considered given that such figures would place the candidate among the Premier League’s leaders such as Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi (18.31); Brentford’s Christian Norgaard (14.24); Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate (14.21) and Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips (14.05), who is on the verge of signing for Manchester City. For context, Everton’s Allan averaged 13.07 last term to finish eighth in the division while Abdoulaye Doucoure had 11.15.

As similar approach was sought for interceptions, requiring six or more per game to tally with the Premier League’s best of Imran Louza of Watford (7.03); Ndidi (6.65); West Ham United’s Declan Rice (6.22); Manchester United’s Scott McTominay (6.12) and Norgaard (6.11). Again, Allan was seventh on 5.69 with Doucoure down on 4.4.

Ball recoveries – picking up possession when neither side has the ball – is also a prized skill in the engine room so at least six per game was needed to rub shoulders with the Premier League leaders of which Manchester United’s outgoing midfielder Nemanja Vidic (7.04) leads the way followed by Manchester City’s Rodri (6.65); Rice (6.58); Ndidi (6.53) and Norgaard (6.44). No current Everton midfielder even makes the top 10 on this list with Allan 15th on 4.96.

With Lampard telling his players to “enjoy the ball”, only midfielders who averaged more than 50 successful passes per game (numbers that would get you in the Premier League top 10 unlike Allan in 40th on 30.44 or Doucoure 42nd on 29.49) were considered, while finally in an attempt to identify young players who might improve and retain a potential resale value, candidates had to be under the age of 25.

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When sticking all these filters into the Recruitment Shop feature on Comparisonator, only three players from European top-flight football came up. One of them was Monaco’s 22-year-old French international Aurelien Tchouameni.

During 2021/22 he averaged 15.31 successful defensive actions per game; 6.23 interceptions; 7.45 ball recoveries and 53.23 accurate passes. Sound impressive? It should do… He’s agreed to join Real Madrid and officially makes his move to the Bernabeu next Friday in an € 80million transfer that could rise to € 100million with add-ons.

So who hasn’t been snapped up then? The other pair meeting such requirements both ply their trade in the Dutch Eredivisie.



Edson Alvarez and Ibrahim Sangare's statistics from the 2021/22 season: Offensive parameters (left);  Defensive parameters (center) and passing / duels (right)
Edson Alvarez and Ibrahim Sangare’s statistics from the 2021/22 season: Offensive parameters (left); Defensive parameters (center) and passing / duels (right)

Ajax’s 24-year-old Mexican international Edson Alvarez is a holding midfielder who can also operate as a center-back. He averaged 18.08 successful defensive actions; 7.36 interceptions; 8.46 ball recoveries and 56.83 accurate passes.

Unsurprisingly he’s already been linked with a potential switch to Manchester United where Erik ten Hag, his boss in Amsterdam for the past three years, has just gone. Which leaves just one.

PSV Eindhoven’s 24-year-old Ivory Coast international Ibrahim Sangare. He averaged 16.38 successful defensive actions; 6.85 interceptions; 7.24 ball recoveries and 63.87 accurate passes.

Interestingly, Everton were linked with him back in 2020 but he ended up leaving his French club Toulouse for PSV in a deal worth just £ 8million. A report in the Express at the time claimed that the Blues – along with Premier League rivals Newcastle United – had their scouts tracking him for 18 months and had considered signing Sangare as a potential replacement for Paris Saint-Germain-bound Idrissa Gueye the previous summer .

However, they ended up landing Sangare’s fellow Ivorian Jean-Philippe Gbamin for £ 25million instead. Given that the injury-plagued flop spent the best part of two years on the treatment table before looking well off the pace during his five Everton outings last season, subsequently being loaned out to CSKA Moscow, perhaps former football director Marcel Brands – now back at PSV – could facilitate a move to Goodison for Sangare as an apology for the recruitment disaster his compatriot has turned out to be?

  • Comparisonator is a football data comparison tool from 271 professional leagues around the world which compares players and clubs by utilizing over 100 different parameters. Click here for more details.

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