New sporting director Edu’s arrival has brought with him his links from Brazil. One link being heavily talked about is Brazil’s breakout player this summer, Everton Soares.
Through-out his time in the Brazilian league, he attracted interest from clubs such as AC Milan. During the Copa America, he started on the bench for Tete’s men. Fighting his way into the starting eleven through his impressive performances and eventually being a key man in the setup.
During this scout report, we will see what his best attributes are. Compare him to other wingers currently competing in Europe. Finally gauging his impact on the Arsenal squad and implementation from Unai Emery.
Everton can best be described as a traditional winger. He enjoys having the ball at his feet. Using his good tight control to take players on in 1v1 scenarios. Everton averaged 3.4 successful dribbles per game in the 2018 Brazilian Serie A. Arsenal averaged the second least amount of dribbles out of the top six clubs last season.
The key feature to his play is using this dribbling ability to constantly cut inside and shoot. Everton could be considered a “volume shooter”, a player who takes a lot of shots with not the best conversion rate. In the 2018 season, he scored 0.4 goals from 2.7 shots per game. An important stat to include here is that 45% of his shots hit the target, however. Making him a direct and consistent goal threat.
Some might believe that this is a negative but it, however, is not. As these stats can be comparable to Dutch legend Arjen Robben. A player with a similar playing style that Arsenal fans would be very familiar with.
Robben on his cultured left foot would take 2.3 shots per game in the Bundesliga 16/17 season. This type of winger can be highly effective. Possibly producing match deciding moments and providing a consistent direct goal threat.
Arsenal currently lacking such a wide player in their squad selection. Both Alexi Iwboi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can both be considered more creative players. Both players have been attacking midfielders by trade and shifted into wide areas during their time at Arsenal. Looking to create chances for teammates rather than score themselves. Both combined for 10 total assists together in the Premier League this season
One of Everton’s weaknesses is his passing ability. Arsenal have been spoiled throughout its illustrious history with wide forwards that bleed class. Everton on the other hand particularly struggles in his passing play.
He only averaged 0.8 key passes per game in the 2018 Brazilian league. Continuing on passes in the opposition half he only has a 79% passing accuracy. These stats are quite average especially when you consider that it’s coming from the Brazilian Serie A. Arsenal are a team who thrives from quick passing combinations and long periods of possession so this is an area for concern.
Pressing and pressing forwards have continued to be integral facets to football tactics. Meanwhile, Everton does not excel in his out of possession play. Only forcing 0.5 interceptions per game. Adding onto this making 65% per game. Although Unai Emery has deployed a more passive press at Arsenal so this, in theory, couldn’t be as big of a problem.
Continuing with his off the ball play. The Premier League’s is a very physically demanding league. No matter your position or role in a team you are expected to contribute in every aspect of the game. Everton in the 2018 Brazilian Serie A only managed to win 27% of his aerial duels. He also would interestingly commit 1.1 fouls per game. Arsenal at times this season were known for giving away unnecessary fouls. Everton could contribute to this unwanted trend.
Everton or Zaha?
One other wide option Arsenal have been exploring this summer has been Wilfred Zaha. The 27-year-old Ivorian international has expressed his interest in the move but a fee with Crystal Palace unable to be agreed. So how does Everton stack up against one of the Premier League’s finest dribblers?
As before mentioned Zaha is considered one of the best dribblers in Europe. Their success rates are level and Zaha is dispossessed 4.2 times per game but Zaha is playing up against top-quality opposition on a weekly basis in contrast.
Zaha provides significantly more key passes than Everton but his overall passing accuracy is not impressive. Crystal Palace’s more direct style of play must be factored. Palace played the 15th least amount of short passes in the league.
To mark one out as a clear better player would be harsh on the other. So it would only make sense to consider what would be the best option in context to Arsenal.
What’s most important here is Arsenal’s need of direct goal threat. Alexi Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan only provided nine goals between them. Zaha in the 2018/19 season only took 1.3 shots per game despite being the main outlet of attack for his team. Palace were eighth in the Premier League for shots taken with 13 per game.
Everton at Arsenal
Arsenal’s squad last season had a severe lack of wide forwards. Another issue was with accommodating two strikers into a shape. So Unai Emery settled on a shape without wide forwards. Using wingbacks to provide the width and service from wide areas. Below is what Arsenal’s 3-4-1-2 looked like in possession.
So if Everton were to come to Arsenal how would he be implemented? The arrival of Everton could see the Unai Emery’s favourite formation used more regularly. Everton would feature on the left side of a 4-2-3-1. He’s played in it for club and country.
The Brazilian hugs the touchline out of possession. He looks to receive the ball in deeper positions during the buildup phases. After passing the ball he usually looks to create space for himself through off the ball movement. Sometimes coming inside and then moving back outside. This heat map below highlights his movements inside and outside.
One of the few for sure principles in-stoned by Emery since his arrival has been service through wide areas. Soares effectively works with his fullback. When he cuts inside the fullback occupies the wide areas. This can fit into Sead Kolasinac’s playstyle as while as potential new signing Kieran Tierney’s. In the Copa America 2019 final, Alex Sandro played 17 passes to Everton. Nobody combined with Everton more times during this game.
With 42% of play coming through Arsenal’s left side last season. Everton could look to receive the ball regularly and look to get put into isolated 1v1’s. The Premier League’s defenders will be a tough challenge for him. But he could make a huge impact on a potential Europa League run.
As Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea proved last season effective wide players can be very prosperous in the Europa League. Hudson-Odoi scored four goals and had 3.3 successful dribbles per game.
After numerous links to European clubs such as Milan. Everton Soares stepped up and produced a breakout tournament at Copa America. Beating out the likes of highly touted David Neres to a starting position in a title-winning team.
The Brazilian could offer decent goal input from a wide position. Filling a necessity in the squad at a good price. This would be Edu’s first signing and would step in moving the club in the right direction.