Everton already has the solution to Carlo Ancelotti’s midfielder problem


It was one of the first problems identified by Carlo Ancelotti upon his arrival at Everton.

The Toffees were playing it far too safe and Ancelotti, almost immediately, recognized the problem.

“At the moment we are not playing vertically, we are playing a lot of balls backwards,” said the Italian, summing up the task ahead.

“Instead of playing forward, this is how we can improve. We can play more vertically. “

Everton simply didn’t have enough comfortable players to complete penetrating forward passes. The kind of footballers who have the most value in the modern game, because they contribute to the ability of their team to progress on the field.

Some players prefer to have safe side passes, while others are naturally inclined to break the lines and feed their teammates higher up the field.

But the Italian may in fact have the solution to his problem, a player who is best placed to meet his demands.

Progressive passes

To determine which players are naturally forward thinking, let’s take a look at what each player does while on the ball.

Below, Ancelotti’s field players are ranked by the number of hits per progressive pass, with only those who have accumulated at least 300 hits this season included.

For the record, progressive passes are defined as completed passes that move the ball towards the opponent’s goal at least 10 meters from its most distant point in the last six passes, or completed passes in the penalty area .

The number of touches made by Everton players per completed soft pass
The number of touches made by Everton players per completed pass

The high quality version of the above graphic can be viewed here.

Lucas Digne obviously seems the most inclined to make a progressive pass when in possession, with an average of around 7.3 hits. For perspective, receive a pass, then dribble, then send a pass account as one touch.

Interestingly, however, followed closely by Alex Iwobi.

The former Arsenal man hasn’t quite made his way since arriving at Goodison Park, with many Blues fans reluctant to judge the success of his move so far.

Although the Nigerian has flaws that need to be improved, he is clearly able to bring his team closer to the goal with an opponent’s progressive pass every 7.4 hits.

In fact, Iwobi’s numbers are just as impressive once compared to any other Premier League midfielder with at least 500 hits, with the top 20 below.

Premier League midfielders ranked by soft pass keys
Premier League midfielders ranked by soft pass keys

The high quality version of the above graphic can be viewed here.

Awesome iwobi

Impressive, the only other elite midfielder in England who is most likely to complete a soft pass while in possession is Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City, who is considered one of the best in the game. world.

Iwobi is above the tastes of Pascal Gross, James Maddison, Emi Buendia and Jack Grealish, Tom Davies also ranking among the most active.

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It certainly doesn’t mean that Iwobi is overall at De Bruyne’s level, but it does capture an aspect of his game that is very useful as long as it is used and applied accordingly during matches.

When football eventually resumes, perhaps Iwobi’s presence on the Ancelotti team will increase over time, given the adequacy of this skill with the vertical and dynamic style of play that the boss of ‘Everton wants to instill.


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