Various football media outlets have revealed the latest player to be linked with a move to Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United ahead of the upcoming January transfer window, which gets underway in just under two months.
Today, we will be carrying out a statistics-driven tactical analysis on the proposed transfer, analysing the validity of the rumour linking the player to London Stadium, taking an in-depth look at the star in question, how he would fit in at the club and comparing him to a current Hammer in his position in order to find out whether they should go for him. Join us.
The rumour we are going to be covering today is one that has reared its head this week and gathered speed in the last few hours, being reported by the likes of the Daily Mail and links Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek to a temporary switch to East London.
The deal that is being rumoured is one of a loan for the rest of the 2018/2019 season, from January and would be the England International’s second spell away from Stamford Bridge in two campaigns. Although Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has insisted he wants to keep Loftus-Cheek in West London, the speculation doesn’t seem to be going away.
For the first phase of this analysis, we are going to analyse a brief profile of the Englishman, provided to us, along with the statistics graphic in the ‘Key Stats’ section, by our good friends over at wyscout.com.
As you can see, the 22-year-old is one of the taller players in the Premier League, especially in his position, which we will get onto later, and would offer the Hammers great physicality as well as the height that would make him the joint-tallest player in the squad, alongside injured Andriy Yarmolenko.
The right half of the image contains some brief stats from his frustrating season so far, next to a heatmap and position map since the start of the term, which shows us his midfield positioning. Despite being a central midfielder by nature, Loftus-Cheek can play all across the midfield, popping up left, right and centre, as we can see.
Next, we are going to move on to look at some more of his stats under Sarri in the blue of Chelsea, the man that replaced Antonio Conte in the summer, and a whole block of his general statistics in the three competitions he’s appeared in since the start of August.
The integral part of England’s run to the FIFA World Cup 2018 semi-finals has played league, Carabao Cup and UEFA Europa League football for the Blues this season and the graphic contains the figures for each of his six individual appearances.
However, it’s just the averages column at the top that we are going to be focussing on today and the first stat we’re drawn to for the midfielder is total actions and his rate of success in them per 90 minutes. As you can see, all of these stats are per 90 minutes.
He manages a very busy 93.47, successfully completing 72.9 per cent of them and for his average of 1.07 goals per 90 minutes, he has four goals in two games in October to thank, including a hat-trick in a 3-1 home beating of BATE Borisov in the Europa League.
Loftus-Cheek is yet to assist this season, hence his average of zero, but does boast an ambitious 3.2 shots each time he steps onto the field for a full match, getting just over 30% of them on target and carrying an eye-catching 0.45 expected goals rating, given his position.
Passing is clearly one of the strong points of the youngster’s excellent all-around game as well over 50% of both his average of 52.08 and 0.53 passes and trickier longer passes have reached their intended targets in 2018/19 thus far. Along with that, over 65% of his 0.8 crosses are on target, although he rarely finds himself in a crossing positioning, spending most of his time in the centre.
The defensive midfielder always likes to dribble with the ball, explaining dribbling stats that speak for themselves and the image displays his capabilities in the more physical side of football too. He averages almost 30 combined duels and aerial duels, winning around half of them.
As we can also see, his reading of the game is top notch, as evidenced by 2.14 interceptions and for a player that sees so much of the ball, just under nine losses, a small percentage of which endanger his own team in his own half, levelled out with 5.2 recoveries, over 80% in the opposition half. His defensive stats are just as impressive as his attacking ones, especially the fact that his disciplinary record, just out of picture on the right, is totally clean with no cards.
Considering that Loftus-Cheek has found his game time at his boyhood club so limited this term, appearing just twice in the Premier League and the same amount in the other two competitions, these average general stats are nothing short of terrific. They prove he deserves to be playing a lot more than he is under Sarri.
For the final stage of this tactical analysis and to find out what kind of role Loftus-Cheek would be playing in East London, whether he would be the starter he undoubtedly deserves to be, we are going to compare him to a current West Ham midfielder.
To do this, we have enlisted the help of the Premier League’s official website to bring you the above three images, the Hammer we have selected for this comparison is first-choice midfielder Pedro Obiang. We are going to see if the Chelsea man would be an upgrade on the key part of Pellegrini’s midfield three.
The graphics contain a wide range of stats tailored to central midfielders and are the basis of this comprehensive comparison. They are taken from last season’s PL, where the pair played a comparative amount, Loftus-Cheek on loan at Crystal Palace and Obiang, in Claret & Blue.
Immediately, there is a win for England man over the Spaniard in the teamplay section, two wins, in fact, as he created more assists and more big chances last term, but Obiang completed 757 passes to his 723.
There is little to separate the duo as we continue down the columns, as you can see, with Loftus-Cheek having a better pass completion rate, more backward passes and more touches. But Obiang is king when it comes to forward passes, through balls and number of times dispossessed.
All of these stats are crucial for a midfielder, whether it be defensive or attacking, including crosses, which the West Londoner has four more of. the overview section is contained in the final image.
This part tells us that Loftus-Cheek played three more times than Obiang in 2017/2018, they both found the back of the net twice and the Blue achieved more assists, with three to his zero. Along with this, he just managed more clean sheets at Selhurst Park and possessed a better disciplinary record.
When we total the statistics up, with one full point being awarded to each player for beating the other at a certain stat, there is one clear winner and that’s the man being linked to London Stadium as opposed to the one already there. He triumphs by six points, 10-4, displaying that statistically, he is the better option than the man four years his senior.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that Chelsea’s Loftus-Cheek, as well as being excellent this season from a stats point of view in the face of the adversity of non-selection, was better than at least one of the Hammers’ current midfielders, based on the latest full season.
If not as a first-team regular, which is something more than attainable for the starlet should he chose to wear Claret & Blue from January, as a back-up option with the number of injuries Pellegrini has in midfield, the club should do everything they can to bring Loftus-Cheek to East London in January. And who knows, if they do, they could end up securing one of the best young English talents permanently, as well as solving their midfield injury crisis.