Torino forward M’Baye Niang has been linked with a move to Arsenal with new boss Unai Emery believed to be an admirer of his.
Niang caught the eye for Senegal at the World Cup in Russia and Torino’s sporting director, Gianluca Petrachi, has not ruled out the striker leaving the club this summer. This is not the first time the 23-year-old has been linked with the Gunners after he previously underwent a trial with the north Londoners during Arsene Wenger’s tenure.
It would also not be the first time Niang has played in the Premier League, having spent time on loan at Watford in 2017. It didn’t go too well for the forward at Vicarage Road, though, after he scored just twice in 16 appearances.
So, why would Emery be interested in bringing Niang in?
Here are some stats we pulled up with the help of Wyscout.
As the graphic shows, Niang is predominantly a striker – but he does like to get down the flanks and stretch defences with his pace. The stats above do not look great for Niang, as you can see that he averaged just 59.3 minutes on the field per game last season and had a poor goals per match record of just 0.2.
Let’s take a look to see how Niang would fit at Arsenal and how he would compare to fellow forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Danny Welbeck and also his current teammate and strike partner Andrea Belotti.
The primary job of a striker is to score goals and Niang just hasn’t done that often enough in his career so far and last season was no different. The Senegal international registered just four goals which is the lowest out of the five players compared above. Aubamayang, in 11 games fewer than Niang, scored five more goals, while Lacazette led the way 14 strikes to his name. It’s interesting to see that even Welbeck, who is far from prolific himself, notched more goals than Niang in over 300 fewer minutes on the pitch.
When you are not getting the goals as a forward, you have to be creating chances and getting assists, surely? Well, the Torino man doesn’t do that either. Again, he is at the bottom of the pile when it comes to assists, managing just one across the whole season.
The graphic shows that his shot accuracy is a bit better than his other stats, but is he taking enough shots? Belotti does have a pretty low accuracy level of just 42%, but as you can he took 34 more attempts than his teammate, while Lacazette had 21 more shots than Niang. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t shoot, you don’t score.
Although Niang is the third best in the air of the players compared here, that isn’t really good enough. His aerial duels won percentage of 36.17% is quite low for a guy that is over 6′ 0″. If you don’t score goals, you don’t lay on assists, then you simply have to be good in the air. To be fair, he isn’t bad in the air, he just isn’t as good as he should be for a man of his size. Interestingly, Belotti, who is slightly smaller than Niang, has a much better record of 44.97% aerial duels won.
Arsenal should absolutely not sign Niang. As the stats show, he is no better than any of the strikers they currently have at their disposal, even Danny Welbeck. The Torino striker would not provide anything different from what they already have and would probably fail in the Premier League again, just like he did at Watford.
Maybe they should go for his teammate Belotti instead, he could actually add something in their attempts to get back into the Champions League this season. Just whatever you do, Unai, do not sign Niang.