Ryan Fraser had a disappointing first season in black and white. There was hope that he would be an excellent free signing last summer, but he played just 18 times in the Premier League.
Injuries were the major reason for him struggling, but the new 3-5-2 formation isn’t the best fit for him.
There were also rumours that his relationship with Steve Bruce wasn’t the best. It spoke volumes that his manager talked down his fitness ahead of Euro 2020. Bruce was keen for Fraser to have a summer of rest, but he was selected by Scotland.
All that aside, Fraser has reported back early for pre-season, suggesting there’s some real hunger there to reignite his Premier League career.
In the recent win over Doncaster Rovers, the Scottish international grabbed a goal and assist. It was a reminder of his quality in the final third.
His goal was an excellent strike from distance, as cut inside to find a yard of space to get his shot away. Meanwhile, his assist showed his excellent understanding with Callum Wilson.
The pair thrived together at Bournemouth and Fraser knows the type of runs that his team-mate likes to make. Wilson delayed his forward run, but when he did get the afterburners on, the pass was played at the perfect time to put it on a plate for our new no.9.
It is difficult to put too much weight on Fraser’s stats for last season, as he played less than 1000 minutes. However, he did average 0.2 expected assists and 3.69 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. These both rank in the 69th percentile when compared to over attacking midfielders and wingers.
Considering Fraser played the majority of his minutes in a poor attacking team, before the arrival of Joe Willock, these numbers are impressive. To put the above into context, Allan Saint-Maximin averaged 3.52 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. This was less than Fraser.
Fraser needs to stay fit and have a run of matches. There is clearly talent there, especially in terms of his creativity. We were reliant on Saint-Maximin at big moments last season, but Fraser had better underlying numbers albeit with a smaller sample size.
If we can find a way to get Saint-Maximin and Fraser in the same team, we could become very exciting to watch. At his best, Fraser contributed seven goals and 14 assists in the 2018/19 season. It is unlikely that he will reach these levels again, but we should be getting more from him than two assists.
The focus will be on the transfer window, as we desperately need reinforcements. However, we have some players in the current squad that we can get more from. Fraser is certainly one of those.