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Transfer Dossiers - Ben Yedder, Alessandrini, Boudebouz, and a Dude Named Saber

By Ted Knutson | June 4, 2013 | Analytics

Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Transfer Dossiers. In this series, I take a statistical look at potentially overlooked or just plain interesting transfer targets in the major leagues. I covered the first half of the players from Ligue 1 here. They include Payet, Mollo, Cabella, and Feret, so if you are interested in them, clique ze link. [Note: I also looked at Bundesliga value targets here.]

Today I’m going to look at a couple of young goalscorers, as well as an attacking midfielder that was rumoured to be on his way to Liverpool last summer, a transfer that – like most of Liverpool’s summer transfers last year – never quite happened.

[Note: I have added an explanation for the abbreviations of stat categories at the bottom.]

Name: Romain Alessandrini
Team: Rennes
Age: 24
Position: Forward/ Left Attacking Mid
Potential Buyers:  Aston Villa (when Benteke leaves). West Brom. Swansea. The top tier in Ligue 1. Any mid-table or better team in Italy.

Year Apps G A ShpG KP Drib Disp Trn PS% G/90 SoT%
2013 20(2) 10 6 3.1 1.2 0.6 2.5 1.9 76.6 0.57 40.6

Purchased for £2.2M before the season from Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot, Alessandrini proved to be a very astute buy. Unfortunately, he blew a knee ligament in February, but prior to then he had scored 8 goals in his last 14, and was adjusting to the league nicely. 10G/6A in only 20 starts is extremely impressive for anyone, and especially a 24-year-old that has yet to hit their peak. A left-footed player, he’s also good at set pieces. His passing stats aren’t quite good enough for most clubs with Champions’ League aspirations, and he needs to become a lot more tidy in possession (the turnover and dispossession levels are high), but if you are mostly counting on him to score goals, you’ll be very happy.

In a sense, his injury may be a lucky break for Premier League teams who are interested in him, as it means the rumor mill has cooled considerably since midseason.  Teams that buy him will need to be patient about his recovery, but once he’s back to full health, they could have a force of nature on their hands. On the other hand, this is his second major knee problem in the last 4 years, so some teams may shy away.

If Benteke leaves this season, Villa will need to replace his production with another young player, but Lambert seems to like more physical guys in the middle (see also: Benteke, Grant Holt) and Romain is better suited to either wing. West Brom likely need someone to fill in for both Lukaku and Odemwingie, and Swansea need another goal scorer to help out with the inevitable Michu regression. With the TV revenue bump, he’s in range for all of those clubs, but probably not good enough yet for anyone above them in the table.

Likely cost: £6-8M

Name: Ryad Boudebouz
Team: Sochaux
Age: 23
Position: Attacking Mid – Right, Center
Potential Buyers:  Any mid-table team in Europe.

Year Apps G A ShpG KP Drib Disp Trn PS%
2013 26(6) 3 7 1.4 2 1.2 1.8 1.1 77.7
2012 34(2) 6 5 1.8 2.2 1.4 2 1.6 79.6

Boudebouz is a Sochaux academy player from Algeria. Only 23 but already on the Algerian national team, he’s been part of Sochaux’s engine room for the last three seasons, including putting up an 8G/8A in 38 games when only 21. Given his production the last two seasons, which was good but not great, there’s some question of whether or not he has peaked. On the other hand, the key pass and dribbles numbers are excellent for a young player, especially one on a pretty bad team (Sochaux just escaped relegation this year). He’s also decent at holding onto the ball considering how often he handles it. So basically, you’re not getting any worse than the stats above, but he gets some decent coaching and continued physical maturity, Boudebouz could potentially get a lot better.

He’s coming to the end of his contract, which means he should be available for a sizeable discount. Liverpool were rumoured to be after him last summer, but I’m pretty sure they have gone a different direction at this point. Given his age, and likely cost, he’d be an easy buy for most Premier League teams looking for a central or right-sided attacking midfielder.

Likely Cost: £3-4M

Name: Wissam Ben Yedder
Team: Toulouse
Age: 22
Position: Forward
Potential Buyers:  Any team looking for a pacey young forward to develop. This includes teams contending for Europe like Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, or even Arsenal.

Year Apps G A ShpG KP Drib Disp Trn PS% G/90 SoT%
2013 29(5) 15 5 2.2 0.9 0.4 1.6 1.9 76.6 0.54 47.4

15 goals in 29 starts at age 22 already screams, “LOOK AT ME!” Yedder’s physical build is a bit like Sergio Aguero – a low center of gravity, but strong and with really quick feet. The video I have seen shows him finishing with both feet, and his head (four headed goals this season!), damned impressive for a kid who is listed at 5’6”. The other thing I noticed were that his goals came against some of the better teams in Ligue 1 this year, including Nice, Lyon, Montpellier, St. Etienne, and Lille, meaning he’s beating teams with solid defensive talent.

The dispossession and turnover numbers are actually reasonable for a central forward, and if he’s putting up numbers like this in a big league at age 22, there’s a very good chance he’s something special. I’d want one more year of data before I made a big splash, but given his relatively low profile thus far, there’s a chance someone could get a future star for a bargain price.

Likely cost: £10-12M

Name: Saber Khelifa
Team: Evian
Age: 26
Position: FWD, MID L/R
Potential Buyers: Clubs looking for potential goals on the cheap.

This one has me perplexed…

Year Apps G A ShpG KP Drib Disp Trn PS% G/90 SoT%
2013 21(4) 13 3 3 1 0.7 1.7 2.4 73.2 0.58 46.7
2012 28(3) 4 5 1.8 1 0.5 1.3 2.4 73.7 0.15 34.5

How do you go from the player in 2012 to the player in 2013? The only thing I can figure is that, given his versatility, he mostly played midfield in 2012, whereas they moved him forward a lot more this past season and he excelled. Shots on Target % spiked, and the goals per 90 is very strong, even if you deduct the penalty he converted this season. Key passes and dribbles are merely okay, the passing percentage is a bit weak, while the bad stuff is about average. Those new goal numbers though… juicy.

Evian got him as a free transfer from a Tunisian team, but his contract is up next year (translation: wages and potential fee are dirt cheap). If I were a team looking for a bit more firepower up front on the cheap - say a newly promoted side or a relegation candidate - I’d get in touch and play Let’s Make A Deal.

Likely Cost: £1-2M

A few of the goals in his highlight reel are the result of great assists or luck, but there are some scorchers as well, including a filthy 64-yarder.


Apps = Appearances
G = Goals
A = Assists
ShpG = Shots per Game
KP = Key Passes
Drib = Successful Dribbles per game
Disp = How many times per game they were dispossessed (lower is better)
Trn = Turnovers per game (lower is better)
PS% = Passing Success Percentage
G/90 = Goals per 90 minutes
SoT% = Shot on Target percentage

Article by Ted Knutson