Five strikers who might fit the profile for Leeds United based on their similarities to Patrick Bamford

Southampton's current stance on Che Adams' availability is likely to send Leeds United elsewhere in their hunt for a striker to provide competition and back-up for Patrick Bamford.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 4:52 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 4:54 pm
Norway striker Alexander Sorloth (L) has a similar profile to that of Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford (Pic: Getty)

The Saints forward, for whom the Whites have made three unsuccessful bids, is widely regarded as a forward who fits the bill and ticks boxes that Marcelo Bielsa would want to be ticked.

He's powerful, mobile and he can finish, so it's little wonder Bielsa and sporting director Victor Orta have been so keen on bringing the former Birmingham City goalscorer back to the Championship.

A number of high profile frontmen have been linked to an Elland Road move, players like Andre Gray, Jarrod Bowen and most recently French 22-year-old Jean-Kévin Augustin, currently on loan at Monaco, from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.

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But by arming themselves with data and building a profile for the required skillset, Leeds United media channel All Stats Aren't We have identified five other forwards who might take the fancy of the Elland Road recruitment team.

Their starting point was the prototype for Bielsa's team - Bamford himself.

An all-round player, Bamford has earned Bielsa's trust by leading the press, defending from the front, battling defences with his improved upper-body strength, getting into the right place to be on the end of chances and scoring 10 goals.

Like any player, Bamford has weaknesses and finishing is the one that is highlighted most often.

Patrick Bamford's statistical profile based on his season for Leeds United (Pic: @AllStatsArentWe)

So in their search for a second striker, All Stats Aren't We - namely Jon Mackenzie and Josh Hobbs - have tried to find data that highlights his strengths, then added to the profile improvements in the areas where he isn't quite so strong.

They looked at key metrics, like expected goal generation, which shows that his movement and anticipation is creating chances because he gets on the end of passes and crosses.

Other important facets of his play include his passing [77.34% accuracy] which predominantly takes place in the opposition half, under pressure, his dribbling [47.06% successful] which most often takes him into areas of the pitch populated by lots of defenders, his aerial prowess and the impressive number of defensive duels he is involved in, per 90 minutes [3.53].

To refine the search, All Stats Aren't We added further parameters, sticking to players under the age of 25 to guarantee resale value, capping estimated value at €10m due to the lack of wiggle room in Leeds' proximity to Profit and Sustainability limits and considering players who have played 1,000 minutes this season, scoring non-penalty goals at a rate at least equal to Bamford's.

Alexander Sorloth has a similar profile to that of Patrick Bamford (Pic: @AllStatsArentWe)

They also included players only operating in second tier leagues.

All of this threw up a long list of 30 strikers around Europe, which they attempted to whittle down to five realistic suggestions.

But before we come to the results, keep in mind that statistical profiles are impacted by the team a player plays for and the league he's playing in.

If a player looks good, it might be because he's in a good team, or in a poor league.

So to the results.

First up is Luton Town's Harry Cornick, a seven-goal Championship striker this season, on whom All Stats Aren't We had this to say: "When it comes to league effects, the simplest way to avoid unhelpful comparison is to use players from the same league. Cornick started his career at Bournemouth before moving to Luton after a series of uninspiring loan spells.

"In terms of his profile, low non-penalty expected goals [xG] could be explained by Luton’s struggles at the bottom of the Championship table. His 1.98 goals above xG, however, would indicate that he’s been more efficient in front of goal than Bamford.

"Despite a low passing percentage [60.06%], he has good expected assists (xA) and key passes per 90 [0.42]. Add to this a dribbling success rate of around 50 per cent and he could offer a decent back-up for Leeds."

Cyriel Dessers, of Heracles, is a 25-year-old Belgian with a hint of journeyman about him and 12 league goals to his name this season

All Stats Aren't We concluded: "Cyriel Dessers has been putting in a decent showing in the Eredivisie this season.

"In many respects, his profile is very similar to Bamford’s with the exception of his aerial ability. His finishing is not perfect, running just 0.08 above his projected xG figure. But Bamford is nearly seven goals below his projection so anything is an improvement.

"Beyond that, he looks like a brilliant all-rounder with good passing [72.32%], dribbling [45.28] and defensive duels [3.99]."

The youngest striker on the shortlist is Willem II frontman Vangelis Pavlidis.

The Greek international came through the youth system at VfL Bochum in Germany before moving to Willem II in the summer. He's 21 and has nine league goals this season.

All Stats Aren't We said: "Pavlidis’ profile reflects Bamford’s inasmuch as he clearly uses his 6ft 1ins frame in a similar way to Bamford in the air.

"Not as mobile, his dribbling [43.53%] is down on Bamford’s and his defensive numbers are equally deficient, perhaps as a result of his height.

"Pavlidis is running much closer to his xG projections than Bamford, but given that he is creating 0.49 xG per 90 minutes, this wouldn’t be a problem. At this rate, he would be scoring once every two games."

Luis Suarez is next in the list. No, not that one. Real Zaragoza's Luis Suarez is a Colombian striker, on loan from Watford in the Spanish Segunda.

Obviously, this might complicate matters, depending on what Watford are thinking of doing with him. But his numbers, including 11 non-penalty goals in league action, look good.

All Stats Aren't We said: "A similar height to Bamford, Suarez doesn’t convert this to aerial dominance in quite the same way but, encouragingly, his defensive duels [3.62 per 90] are up there with Bamford’s.

"Apart from that, a remarkable similarity between the two exists: good passing and good dribbling. Most importantly, though, Suarez is running 2.68 goals above his xG."

Premier League aficionados will also recognise the next name - Alexander Sørloth.

The Norwegian is on loan at Trabzonspor from Crystal Palace and making a name for himself, with 15 league goals so far.

"His profile is very similar to Bamford’s except for his defensive numbers," said All Stats Aren't We.

"At 6ft 5ins, you might not expect him to have quite the defensive mobility you would want. That said, his dribble numbers [52.94%] show that he is no slouch.

"Other than that, this season, Sørloth is Bamford with better finishing."

Identifying a potential Bamford Mk II is, of course, only the starting point of a long and complicated process.

Clubs watch players in person, they scout them remotely and head coaches like Bielsa watch lots of videos to ensure a target is their kind of operator, or at least someone with potential to be moulded.

And then there's the availability, the agents, the negotiating, the finances, the fitness and the medical history.

All Stats Aren't We believe it will be a process that takes place constantly at Elland Road.

"When it comes to data scouting, then, Victor Orta will have been busy, not just in January but all year around," they said.

"He will have these sorts of tools at his disposal. He will have analysts running the numbers week on week and noting any interesting statistical anomalies. He will be aware of players who are looking for moves, players who are having break-out seasons, players who are statistically interesting."

And, as their numbers suggest, all is not lost if the thus-far unfruitful pursuit of Southampton's Adams ends in failure.

"The club will be doing whatever they can to make sure Bielsa is provided with a back-up when January closes," they said.

"More than this, though, fans should take comfort in the fact that it doesn’t have to be Che Adams or nothing.

"There are credible options out there in the market who could fill in the gap needed by Leeds and function as decent back-up strikers to Patrick Bamford should the need arise."