Cheikhou Kouyaté signed for Crystal Palace on Thursday morning after the Eagles agreed upon an undisclosed fee with West Ham – which is believed to be in the region of £10m.
The 28-year-old has been a huge part of the Hammers’ squad since joining the club, from Anderlecht, in the summer of 2014. Kouyaté went on to make 129 Premier League appearances for West Ham, with 33 of those games coming last season – which was the most out of any of the Irons’ midfielders. The Senegalese captain will go down in the history books in East London, having scored the club’s first ever goal at the London Stadium, in a Europa League game against NK Domžale in 2016.
Following the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini and the arrival of Jack Wilshere, Kouyaté was unlikely to feature in as many games for the Hammers this season and was therefore allowed to move on. A number of fans grew slightly frustrated with the performances of the Senegalese international last season and will not be disappointed to see him move on. But just how much will the Irons miss the tall, gangly midfielder? Let’s see how his performances during the last campaign compared to Hammers central midfielders Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang and new boy Jack Wilshere.
How did Kouyaté compare defensively?
Due to Kouyaté’s versatility, he played in a number of positions for West Ham last season, defensively and even just off the striker on a couple of occasions. That is one aspect of his game that the Hammers will certainly miss, as none of their other midfielders are capable of filling in as seamlessly at the back. But how do their defensive stats compare to Kouyaté?
Given that Kouyaté made more Premier League appearances and tallied over 400 minutes more than the other three players, it is only fair to show the stats based on per 90 minutes played. However, they do still look pretty good for the new Crystal Palace man, though. Only Obiang, with 2.14 tackles, wins more than Kouyaté per 90 – with new arrival Wilshere making over one less successful tackle a game than the Senegalese man, at just 0.59. It is quite surprising that he makes more successful tackles than Noble, given that the Irons’ captain is known for being a scrappy, tough-tackling midfielder.
Kouyaté is clearly pretty good in the air. Although, at 6′ 4″, the lanky midfielder should be winning more aerial duels than 5′ 8″ Wilshere, shouldn’t he? Well, as you can see from the graphic, he doesn’t. With his height, you would expect the former Hammer to win more battles in the air than he did last season and his stats should be far higher than those he is compared with here.
As the graphic indicates, it looks like Kouyaté is the king of clearances. At 1.84 clearances a game, Kouyaté makes the most of the four players a game, slightly more than Obiang and a lot more than Noble and Wilshere. His experience in defensive positions probably gives him the edge when it comes to being in the right position to make clearances. But Obiang’s stats suggest that he is more than capable of stepping in to remove any danger.
The interceptions made per 90 stats save the day for Noble. The industrious midfielder clearly leads the way on interceptions, making 0.6 more than second place Obiang. Kouyaté falls just behind the Spaniard in third, while Wilshere is once again left propping up the table. In fairness to Wilshere, he is more of an attack-minded midfielder – but he is going to have to step up defensively to fill the void left by Kouyaté.
How did Kouyaté compare offensively?
For a player that came to West Ham as a much more defensive minded midfielder, Kouyaté leaves as a much more balanced player, who loves to get forward and join in with attacks. Let’s see if his offensive stats reflect that, compared to Noble, Wilshere and Obiang.
It is important to remember that Kouyaté played a few more games than Noble and several more than Wilshere and Obiang. Given the Senegalese man’s height, he really should be producing more goals a game than the two he scored last season. Although, it is quite interesting that he did manage to notch one more goal than Wilshere, who will surely be hoping to get on the scoresheet more in the upcoming campaign.
Whilst Noble and Obiang failed to register any assists throughout the season, Kouyaté did well to match Wilshere’s three assists. The new Palace man came second when it came to chances created, just behind Noble with 17. Although, Wilshere wasn’t too far behind with 13 and you would expect that, given more game time, his stats will improve dramatically.
However, seen as though the Hammers have added the likes of Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko to their ranks, there will be less expectation on the central midfielders to create as many chances – but Wilshere will surely still be looking to do so.
Kouyaté was the weakest passer of the four midfielders last season, with a success rate of 77%. Let’s be honest, though, that it isn’t really Kouyaté’s game. West Ham fans will be pleased to see Wilshere leading the way with an impressive 86% pass success rate.
The stats suggest that West Ham will miss aspects of Kouyaté’s game and should really bring in another midfielder to replace him. On the defensive end, his height and experience around the box will be hard to replace. Wilshere is going to play a completely different role for the Hammers than Kouyaté did and should be expected to have a much more positive effect in offensive areas. Whilst his departure to Crystal Palace is a loss to the squad, Manuel Pellegrini prefers midfielders who are agiler and better on the ball, so it is a good move for Kouyaté and it creates space for a new arrival in central midfield.