Now the season is over, it’s finally switch our focus to the summer transfer window.
The signings made in January helped us consolidate our Premier League status, but the focus will now be to progress into a top half team. It will be interesting to see the approach of the club.
Free agents will be an important market for us over the coming seasons as we try to overhaul our squad. In this transfer target piece, we discuss out of contract players from foreign clubs.
Dan-Axel Zagadou – Borussia Dortmund
This is a surprising one, as Dan-Axel Zagadou is only 22 and has a lot of experience in the Dortmund first team. He is a left-footed centre back, which makes him even more appealing.
Dan Burn has been an excellent signing for us, but we need another left-footed option. Zagadou is at a good age that he could come in and compete with Burn initially before making the position his own.
He is capable of bringing the ball out from the back and launching attacks from deep. Zagadou would be a good fit for Howe’s system. He averages 4.58 progressive passes and 5.14 progressive carries per ninety minutes, both ranking in the 93rd percentile among defenders.
Zagadou would be able to adapt to English football, due to his ability in the air. He averages 4.66 successful aerial duels per ninety minutes, putting him in the 98th percentile among centre backs.
Thomas Strakosha – Lazio
The Lazio goalkeeper has seemingly been linked for the last few years and it is a target that has come around since the talk of the takeover was made public. This would suggest it is a target of the current ownership. His status as a free agent won’t have missed their attention.
Martin Dubravka has had a good season under Eddie Howe, but there is a feeling that he doesn’t completely suit the manager’s style.
Strakosha isn’t the best keeper with his feet, but he is a very good shot stopper. He has outperformed the average goalkeeper based on the post shot expected goals of the shots he has faced in four of his last five seasons.
This would feel like a similar profile to Dubravka, so might be one to be avoided. However, for a free transfer, it is one the club might look at.
Federico Bernardeschi – Juventus
Juventus have decided not to renew the contract of Federico Bernardeschi and he will be available on a free transfer.
It is likely he will remain in Italy, but he has great pedigree at the highest level of the game for Juventus and Italy. It may be that he is a player we look at to strengthen our attacking options.
He has only been used as a rotation player at Juventus, which has restricted his ability to find his form. In his final season with Fiorentina, he was one of the standout players in Serie A with 11 goals and four assists.
This year, he only has one goal and three assists, but he has had limited minutes. Bernardeschi won’t be at the top of our target list, but he could be a smart addition on a free.
Adnan Januzaj – Real Sociedad
One player that could catch our eye this summer is Adnan Januzaj. The former Manchester United attacker has yet to agree a new deal with Real Sociedad and he has a lot of qualities that we lack in our current squad.
Januzaj is a creative midfielder and we need to add more creativity to our ranks this summer. The Belgian international averages 0.24 expected assists (xA) and 4.06 shot creating actions per ninety minutes, ranking him in the 79th percentiles for both, when compared to other attacking midfielders.
Further to his creativity, he is able to progress the ball through the thirds and is a confident dribbler. He averages 4.39 progressive passes, 7.96 progressive carries and 2.82 successful dribbles per ninety minutes, all rating in the top 20% when compared to others in his position.
The two problem areas for Januzaj are goal contributions and work rate. He has only contributed 14 goals and 16 assists in his last five seasons in Spain. Meanwhile, he averages 10.53 pressures per ninety minutes, placing him in the 5th percentile among attacking midfielders. We are already carrying Allan Saint-Maximin out of possession. Another in the same profile isn’t what we need.
That said, his creativity could bring him on to our radar as a free agent.