This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
According to The Mirror, via The Daily Star, Leeds United are lining up a £7.5m move for Aston Villa centre-back James Chester as they look to replace Pontus Jansson following his exit earlier this month, but stats suggest they would be making a big mistake.
Despite being a key player for the Whites in recent seasons, the Sweden international completed a surprise move to their Championship rivals at the beginning of July, for a fee that was reported to only be worth an initial £4m.
It has left manager Marcelo Bielsa with something of a lack of options at the heart of his defence – they didn’t have a great deal of depth even with Jansson last term – with Gaetano Berardi and Liam Cooper the only senior options.
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Ben White has arrived on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion and could have a part to play, but the recent link to Chester suggests that the Argentine boss may want a more experienced head in his backline.
The 30-year-old would certainly be that seeing as he has made 231 appearances at this level, as well as winning 35 caps for his country, Wales.
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However, a comparison of how he and Jansson performed in the division in 2018/19 suggest that the Yorkshire outfit would be getting a downgrade on a player who was hugely popular among the Elland Road faithful.
The Welshman did have his fair share of injury issues last term, missing the final three months of the campaign with a knee issue, but was a regular in the starting XI prior to that.
While he did have an impressive pass completion rate of 87%, according to WhoScored, from his 28 Championship outings, which suggests he would be a ball-playing centre-back Bielsa likes, some of his other defensive contributions compared to Jansson are slightly more worrying.
He made far few tackles and interceptions than the Swede, while he wasn’t as strong in the air either – not surprising given his 5 foot 10 frame, but a concern in a division where certain teams aren’t afraid to go direct.
The 30-year-old did give away fewer fouls on average per match, but Leeds would surely want an upgrade on Jansson if they are to shell out £7.5m for a player who is two years his senior.
Chester just doesn’t fit the bill in that regard looking at his numbers in 2018/19, and Bielsa and Victor Orta would be better off looking elsewhere for what could prove to be their most important addition of the summer window.