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How Amadou Onana compares to Arsenal's current midfielders as 'contact' made

Following reports that Arsenal have made contact over a move for Everton's Amadou Onana, Sports Mole looks at how he compares to the Gunners' current midfielders.

Arsenal have apparently taken the first step towards bolstering their ranks for the 2024-25 season, as a report from the Liverpool Echo claims that contact has been made over a move for Everton's Amadou Onana.

The Belgium international - currently away with his country at Euro 2024 - has already spoken of his desire to represent a distinguished European club at some point in the near future, and Arsenal certainly fit the bill.

Mikel Arteta is understood to have been an admirer of Onana's qualities for some time and is known to be chasing a new defensive midfield enforcer in the current window, but it could take around £50m to prise him away from Goodison Park.

Such a price tag should not prove too problematic for a club of Arsenal's calibre, though, and using data from FBRef from the 2023-24 Premier League season, Sports Mole analyses how Onana compares to Gunners trio Declan Rice, Thomas Partey and Jorginho.


Goalscoring

Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice on January 20, 2024© Reuters

Let us preface this four-way comparison by running down the key appearance numbers first and foremost. Rice was a near-ever present in the Arsenal XI - playing all 38 Premier League games and starting 37 of them - while Onana started 23 of 30, Jorginho 10 of 24 and Partey just nine of 14.

While Rice's defensive midfield mastery is already well-documented, the England international took on the left eight role to excellent effect last season and managed an impressive seven strikes in the Premier League, unsurprisingly the most of the quartet.

Both Partey and Jorginho failed to register in the Premier League last season, although Onana did find the back of the net twice for Everton, once against Burnley and again in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace in February.

As a more deep-lying midfielder, Onana unsurprisingly attempted exactly half of Rice's shots in 2023-24 - 29 compared to the Englishman's 58 - but only six of his efforts found the target for a rate of 20.7%, while Rice found the mark 20 times for a rate of 34.5%.

Interestingly, Onana's strikes came from the closest distance to goal on average at 19.3 yards - Rice's comes in at 20.4, albeit with the caveat of two free kicks - while Partey and Jorginho mustered just 12 shots between them in 2023-24.

Scoring twice from six shots on target means that Onana's conversion rate from such chances comes in at 33%, but with Rice and Martin Odegaard taking on the offensive responsibilities, Arteta is not pursuing the Everton man for his goalscoring capabilities.


Playmaking

Arsenal midfielder Jorginho pictured in March 2024© Reuters

Another area where Onana will not have to shoulder much of the burden, the 22-year-old did not fashion a single assist in the 2023-24 Premier League - the same as Partey - whereas Rice managed a terrific eight helpers and Jorginho also chipped in with two of his own.

However, Onana was not totally ineffective when it came to creating chances for his teammates, as he managed 56 shot-creating actions - second to Rice's 100 - although his ratio of 2.41 per game is the lowest out of the four.

Forty-seven of those SCA's came from a live-ball pass, although Onana did prove effective at winning free kicks in dangerous areas, drawing four fouls which led directly to a shot; Rice, Partey and Jorginho had just one between them in that regard.

While Arteta could therefore look to utilise Onana's free kick-winning abilities further up the field, the Belgian can again leave the playmaking to the likes of Rice, Odegaard and Bukayo Saka and focus on protecting the Gunners' backline as the midfield screen.


Passing/possession

Thomas Partey in action for Arsenal on October 20, 2022© Reuters

One metric in which Rice and Onana do not dominate, Partey - who could very well be on the way out of the Emirates Stadium in the next few weeks - tops the passing accuracy charts for the 2023-24 season with 89.6%, completing 570 from 636 attempts.

Jorginho is not that far behind at exactly 89%, while Rice comes in marginally below at 88.9% and Onana is significantly lower at 84.1%, although the former two did play fewer minutes and did not progress the ball as much as the Everton man.

When it comes to long passes specifically, Onana actually tops Partey and Rice with a respectable 73.9% completed, only behind Jorginho's 76.3%, and along the same lines, he completed 14 switches of play, slightly inferior to Rice's 17.

One passing metric that Onana does rank first in is through balls, completing six such attempts compared to Rice's five, Partey's three and Jorginho's two, and he has 1,291 touches of the ball in total, most of which unsurprisingly came in the middle third.

The ex-Lille man did not shy away from taking on defenders with the ball at his feet, but he only successfully completed 12 of 27 for a rate of 44.4%, while Partey easily tops that list with 69.2%, dribbling past opponents nine times from 13 attempts.

However, as already alluded to, Onana was outstanding at drawing in opponents and winning free kicks, as he was fouled a staggering 45 times in the 2023-24 Premier League campaign, more than Jorginho, Rice and Partey's 34 combined.


Defensive actions

Everton's Amadou Onana celebrates after the match on February 19, 2024© Reuters

As Onana will be signed with the intention of filling Arsenal's number six role, Gunners scouts will do their due diligence on the Belgian's defensive prowess, although he still ranks below midfield maestro Rice in a lot of those regards.

Indeed, Onana made fewer tackles (71 to 83), fewer blocks (25 to 37), fewer clearances (31 to 52) and fewer interceptions (21 to 44) compared to Great Britain's most expensive footballer of all time, while he succeeded 50% of the time when attempting to tackle dribblers compared to Rice's 56.1%.

The 22-year-old also made more fouls than Rice, Partey and Jorginho with 37, although that statistic can be taken with a pinch of salt given that he was representing a relegation-battling Sean Dyche team compared to Arteta's title-chasing Arsenal, and he made a respectable 160 recoveries throughout the season.

However, thanks to the Belgium international's 6ft 4in frame, few can stack up to him in the air, as he won far more aerial duels than Rice with 52 and lost just 18 of them, while his English colleague triumphed in 39 and lost 43 for a success rate of just 47.6%.

In comparison, Onana's exceptional ratio of 74.3% was the fourth-highest of all Premier League players, only below Virgil van Dijk (81.4%), Harry Maguire (78.4%) and Joe Gomez (75.6%) in that regard.

While not all of the statistics work in Onana's favour, his product can certainly be refined under Arteta, and his aerial excellence would only strengthen Arsenal's already potent threat from set-pieces further.


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Everton's Amadou Onana celebrates scoring their first goal with Abdoulaye Doucoure on December 16, 2023
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