MOT View: Instinctive talent shows why 28y/o reported target could be real asset for Leeds in PL
If Leeds United are to thrive in the Premier League next term they will need to find a striker who can provide a consistent goal threat.
Patrick Bamford may have hit 13 goals this season, but he has laboured away to reach that tally, taking a sizeable 123 shots over the course of the campaign, as per Whoscored.
That gives him a conversion rate of just 10.57% – vastly lower than the 19.12% Sheffield Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher has posted on his way to 13 Championship strikes.
Thankfully, Marcelo Bielsa has seemingly identified this problem, and Turkish outlet Takvim report that he is already on the hunt for a new hitman, with Galatasaray striker Mbaye Diagne on his list of targets.
The 28-year-old has spent this season on loan with Club Brugge, but has struggled for game time in Belgium – making just six league appearances in 2019/20.
Despite that low figure, however, he has hit an impressive four strikes, and his stats in front of goal are much more eye-catching that Bamford’s this season.
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The Senegal international has a shot accuracy 14.6% better than Bamford’s, while his xG is 0.36 higher per match, and his goals per game outshines the 26-year-old’s by 0.22, as per Wyscout.
But stats sometimes only tell half the story, so here at MOT Leeds News, we have taken an in-depth look at Diagne’s performance in Brugge’s 5-0 demolition of Mechelen back in September to get a better idea of what kind of player he is.
Diagne scored a brace in that match, and the first thing that immediately springs out at the spectator is his predatory instinct.
In the image above, the 28-year-old is the player in blue nearest the front post.
Notice how closely he is being marked as the corner comes in – his defender is literally touch-tight with him.
Just a second later, as his teammate heads the ball towards goal, he has managed to open up four-yard gap by peeling off his man.
Now Diagne finds himself in acres of space on the edge of the six-yard box by virtue of a run that is both incredibly simple and very clever.
Admittedly, the forward is the beneficiary of a huge slice of luck as the ball comes off the inside of the post and along the goal-line – giving him the easiest tap-in of his career – but its his own impressive movement that affords him the opportunity to score such a simple goal.
Diagne’s second goal in that match proved that his run wasn’t just a stroke of fortune either.
As Diagne enters the box, he is clearly in sight of the central defender nearest the front post.
With his teammate occupying a dangerous position on the corner of the area, the forward has a lot of work to do to create the space he needs to make himself available for the pass.
Again, the cleverness here comes from Diagne’s ability to peel off his man.
By the time the next pass in the move is played, he has drifted in between the two centre-backs – but more importantly – right into the centre of the goal.
At this point, he is essentially invisible to his marker, and primed in the best place possible to score a goal.
And so it proves to be, with Diagne again gifted a tap-in to an empty net as the ball is played across the face of goal.
Make no mistake though, these finishes don’t come by accident.
They show a player who is brilliantly adept at finding space for himself in crowded penalty areas, and who clearly has a natural instinct for finishing.
That kind of thing is difficult to teach, as Bamford has proven this season, and if Leeds United are able to land Diagne this summer, his talent for poaching could prove to be a real asset.
In other Leeds United news, ‘No danger’ – Sun journo issues verdict on which way Ch’ship clubs will vote in major EFL ballot.