It’s Thursday, so Dembele’s staying! After a stellar first six months, it was claimed some of Europe’s elite clubs were looking at him with a £40m price tag mentioned. Now it is Brighton and Everton for around £18m. He has only appeared in 1/3rd of Celtic’s game minutes this season. With difficult second season syndrome set in, what is the best outcome for Celtic and Dembele?
I look at comparative striker performances to see if Dembele is justifying the price tag and whether the other will adequately replace.
The Glossary strikes the back of the net with clinical precision.
All data PRIOR to Brechin City and Partick Thistle matches.
Striker has been a problem position for Celtic this season. The lack of a fit one seemed an unnecessary risk to take into tight Champions League qualifiers with Rosenborg. None of Edouard, Dembele and Griffiths have contributed over 50% of their time to Celtic’s season. Griffiths has managed just over 18 matches worth of minutes over the 38 games.
Consequently, none of them are tearing up the scoring charts. I showed in “League Performance Regression? Yes. Here’s Why” that Celtic are suffering because the main creative talent have been unavailable at the same time. No Celtic striker is in double figures (non-penalty goals).
Edouard leads the way with 0.6 goals per 90m, albeit from a small sample (just over 600 minutes – Brechin City game not included). He also leads the way in xNPG – his Expected Goals a full 0.1 ahead of Griffiths per 90m.
Dembele gets into the better positions and makes the better shot choices however. He has more shots from within the box and more on target. Edouard has most possessions in the box, and the highest % of shots on target.
Griffiths leads the way on creativity – he takes many free kicks and corners which helps.
Griffiths also provides more open play crosses into the box and creates more open play chances. Dembele plays more passes that take out opponents (higher Pass Impect).
Edouard has been the most effective dribbler of the three so far.
Dembele receives more passes from colleagues that open up the opposition, but Griffiths takes more passes that take out more opponents. The way I would “unpack” this is: Dembele is stronger holding the ball up. Griffiths gets on the end of more passes in behind that are less frequent but tend to bypass significant numbers of the defence.
This is definitely an area Edouard can improve.
Overall, Dembele is involved in completing more passes, and generally keeps possession significantly better. He also is more successful challenging for the ball, despite losing a lot more challenges over all. Counter intuitively Griffiths has more game involvement. This may be a function of his free kick and corner taking.
Dembele edges the overall CAT score measuring attacking threat. But Griffiths and Dembele’s overall Scoring Contributions are virtually identical – indeed both contribute a goal or assist every 103 minutes. Edouard is eclipsing them both – again from a very small sample.
xPts measures the impact of their goals in terms of importance to the match. Griffiths has a slight edge in scoring goals that contribute 0.37 points per 90m.
Dembele has not hit last season’s heights and consequently the level of club he may aspire to join seems to have diminished. Does he want to settle for an English Premier League relegation battle? Might it not be better to work hard to reclaim last season’s form, and be a more attractive proposition on the summer? This may work out better for Celtic too, as another five months like his first six would likely re-inflate the asking price.
Celtic have not been well served by their strikers so far this season. But losing one of the main ones now may prove altogether too disruptive whilst failing to meet anyone’s strategic goals. A good second half of the season, with another treble bagged, and all can regroup post May.