It may still only be October, but the West Ham United transfer rumour mill is already in full flow, producing the first rumours for the 2019 January transfer window with just under three months still to go.
It has emerged this week that Manuel Pellegrini is looking at a striker ahead of the month-long window, having spent the best part of £100 million last summer to bring in nine first-team signings. Today, we are going to take an in-depth look at the rumour, the player and compare him to the club’s current main attacking option, join us.
The player in question is Genk centre-forward and Tanzanian International Mbwana Ally Samatta, better known as just Mbwana Samatta, who is 25-years-old and has been at the Belgian club since 2016, making his international debut in 2011.
Samatta has been on fire for the Smurfs this season, netting eight goals in 11 outings in all competitions and further establishing himself as one of the best frontmen in Belgium’s Top-Flight, the Jupiler Pro League.
His form this term has even seen comparisons drawn between himself and Barcelona star Lionel Messi, prompting a series of other PL clubs, including the likes of Burnley and Everton, to be also chasing his signature for the winter transfer window. He’s certainly a player the Hammers should be keeping an eye on if they’re looking to strength in that area and will face stiff competition, in doing so.
For the second phase of our analysis, we are going to compare Samatta’s form with that of West Ham’s main man up front, Austrian winger-converted-striker Marko Arnautovic.
In order to do this, we have pulled a block of key average stats for the two players in their respective leagues for the 2018/2019 season, from our good friends over at wyscout.com.
When we put the two graphics together, it creates a comparison and what we are first drawn to is the mini heatmap, which displays how similar the two poachers are, in terms of position.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of these stats, it must be noted that Samatta has played more league matches than Arnautovic this season and therefore, more minutes, but there is little in it.
As you can see, both have averaged 90 minutes per game this term, showing their importance to their respective teams and Samatta has been marginally more successful in terms of his total actions per game, though he does carry out around ten fewer than Arnautovic.
The African carries more of a goal threat, averaging nearly a goal a game this campaign, but he is less of a team player, with Arnautovic averaging 0.16 assists to his 0.13.
Samatta tends to be more ambitious in encounters, averaging more shots, more of which he is able to get on target, while it is no surprise to see him carry a higher expected goals rating, considering the stats we’ve already touched on.
When it comes to passes, short or long, Arnautovic reigns supreme in average and accuracy, while Samatta tends to appear more in the wide areas, hence why he has the better crossing stats.
Meanwhile, Arnautovic attempts more dribbles per 90 minutes, though, Samatta has a higher success rate with his, but is inferior to him in a duelling sense, being involved in and winning fewer duels and aerial duels, on average.
While Samatta may be the better interceptor of the ball, he does lose it more often than the Austria man and stand-in captain in his own half, however, recovering more often in the opposing 50 or so yards.
Arnautovic’s disciplinary record is clean for this season, with Samatta’s not so much, his average being 0.13 yellow cards. Overall, taking all the stats into consideration, there isn’t too much to choose between the two strikers, perhaps the Tanzanian just edges things.
What also must be taken into consideration is the fact that Samatta is playing in a much lower quality league than Arnautovic is, turning out in a league outside of the top ten in Europe, while he plays in arguably the best league in the world.
In conclusion, our statistics-driven tactical analysis has found that Samatta would be in no way a replacement for Arnautovic and should West Ham sign him for what is expected to be a high fee in January, he would probably have to play second fiddle.
With the vast options that Pellegrini’s Hammers have going forward, it is hard to see them busting a lung to land Samatta’s signature at the start of the year as it would take an absolute world-beater to knock Claret & Blue talisman Arnautovic off his lone striker perch in East London.