Odsonne Edouard is the replacement for Sergio Aguero
You can hardly envy the executives at City Football Group tasked with finding a successor to Sergio Aguero. The 31-year-old talisman has scored in the majority of his appearances in the Premier League during eight out of his nine seasons at Manchester City. Where could Txiki Begiristain and company unearth another 180-goal striker? At last, we think we know.
Not that it's been an easy search. In addition to an incredible scoring record, Aguero has a playing style that's hard to replicate. City were on the right track with Gabriel Jesus, but somehow the mercurial Brazilian never carried the same weight in the lineup as the stocky Argentine – and so the search continued. Well, Odsonne Edouard may be about to change all of that.
Edouard, in case you haven't heard, is a French U21 international and smarterscout young prospect who's been leading Celtic's charge to another Scottish Premiership title, with 19 goals and 9 assists across 22 appearances. His attacking output is already extremely high by a Premier League standard, and he contributes a fair amount as a defender as well. He's an average dribbler for a Premier League striker and an excellent finisher. Even during Celtic's unsuccessful Champions League campaign, Edouard still managed attacking output for the Premier League. At 1.87m, the only area where he disappoints is in the air:
You can see Edouard's steady improvement across all competitions in his attacking numbers, and he still has several years to go before he's likely to reach his peak as a striker. If we take a look at the Statistics panel of his profile, we can see where some of that improvement has come from. His shot quality has been similar over the past two seasons, but he's been getting more involved in the most dangerous attacking moves while on the pitch:
Edouard's average shot quality would be even better if he didn't shoot from the GK's left quite as often. In the smartermap below, you can see that he often starts off in his left channel, making short passes to link up with his teammates before running into the box to receive the ball and shoot. His diagonal runs can take him pretty far across the goal, but he still finishes those wide shots at a relatively high rate:
We've been tracking Edouard for some time in the Scottish Premiership data that we keep for private clients. We wanted to see which Premier League strikers had a similar style to Edouard in the past several seasons, so we fired up the "Search by similar player" feature on the site – and then our jaws hit the floor:
Physically they may not resemble each other much, but Edouard and Aguero have had very similar playing styles in terms of the metrics we track. Only five out of the 200 closest matches for Edouard in our entire database came from the Premier League, and three of them were Aguero. Here's a side-by-side comparison showing just how close they are:
Both players are outstanding target men, but both are also prolific link-up passers and dribblers. And both recover a lot of balls for a striker, too. The main differences are Edouard's aggressiveness as a defender and his ball retention, which is lower by a Premier League standard.
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised by these similarities. Before he left Celtic, Brendan Rodgers instituted a style of play that mimicked the City Football Group philosophy almost to a fault – his teams used a huge amount of build-up play, with moves made up of countless passes, and pressed avidly for ball recoveries as well. In half a year at the helm, Neil Lennon hasn't done too much to change that winning formula. So in some ways, Edouard has already been groomed to play the style that Pep Guardiola and his bankrollers prefer. It shouldn't be a question of whether they sign Edouard – it should be when.
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