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Everton linked to Real Madrid product

Do we need this striker?

FC Internationale v Olympique Lyonnais - 2017 International Champions Cup China Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Okay, I am on the record as saying we don’t need a striker. and I stand by that notion even though we have now been linked to a striker that I really, really like. I think Dominic Calvert-Lewin will continue to grow, that Cenk Tosun is a good starter, and that Oumar Niasse is the ideal backup for any English Premier League club (except Manchester City, but they play by different money rules anyway).

So now that Calcio Mercato has linked Everton to a 30m bid to Mariano Diaz of Olympique Lyon, I am left with three different reservations. First, that’s a lot of money for a guy with only one year as a starter in a somewhat lesser league. Second, we don’t need a striker. Third, an Italian paper with a ‘scoop’ about a Spanish-born player in a French league moving to an English team doesn’t exactly strike me as reputable.

Mariano has been on fire since coming to Lyon from Real Madrid. Unfortunately, for the reasons above, the move doesn’t seem too likely. But let’s walk through the exercise of evaluating the Dominican anyway, because there is going to be a temptation to immediately draw a line between Mariano and Sandro Ramirez and assume that they’ll have the same problems, and that since we just tried the whole Spanish forward thing, why bother again?

The forward has 18 goals and 5 assists so far in Ligue One play. Only Neymar and Cavani of PSG have scored more in that league this season. He has impressed in the Europa League too, scoring twice with a pair of assists in nine games played.

Sandro and Mariano play nothing alike and one good way to see this is in their shot selection. Mariano takes 57% of his shots for Lyon from within the penalty area whereas Sandro, when he was Malaga’s starter, only took 44% of his there. Sandro was far more likely to receive the ball wide, dribble to the edge of the box and fire whereas Mariano scores his goals as a more traditional #9.

What this means is that Mariano is taking higher percentage shots that are sustainable over time. When you consider the fact that Sandro’s key pass and dribble stats are basically identical to Mariano’s, you see that his team is not really gaining any extra benefit by him drifting out wide if his long shots aren’t going in.

What’s remarkable is that despite the fact that the two players have similar numbers of total shots per 90 minutes with fewer from long range, Mariano still has more goals from outside the box than Sandro had at Malaga. In fact, from open play he has five more.

Sandro Ramirez is the forward version of Marcos Alonso: useless on defence (though for Sandro that’s not a problem), great with direct free kicks, wasteful in his other shooting.

Mariano Diaz is exactly the opposite, he’s a hard working, efficient forward. In addition to having better hair than Sandro, he has a game that is far more reliable and more likely to translate.

I think he is certainly good enough to play here at Everton, unfortunately I don’t think striker is high enough on our needs list to splash the cash and I don’t think the report linking us to him is reliable.