Stats comparison: James McCarthy vs Manchester United midfielders

Would the Everton midfielder be an improvement on what is currently on offer at Manchester United?

There were reports this week linking Everton's James McCarthy with a switch to Manchester United.

The prospect of joining Louis van Gaal's Reds revolution may be a tempting one for most young footballers, but after last summer's Marouane Fellaini transfer, it isn't a route with much recent success.

United legend Roy Keane urged the 23-year-old to remain at the Toffees for the foreseeable future, citing a belief that he has improved at Goodison Park under Roberto Martinez and that he would struggle to find a better place to develop further.

"James is at a good club in Everton," the Republic of Ireland assistant manager told reporters.

"He's had a decent couple of seasons and if he keeps progressing then who knows but I'm sure he's happy where he is."

But how does the young Irishman compare to the players currently contesting United's central midfield positions?

Below we take a look at some choice statistics courtesy of Opta, ruling out players such as Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata that tend to feature further forward. 

  TeamGoal AssistTotal Att AssistAccurate PassTouchesAppsMins
James McCarthy Everton 3 42 1,489 2,190 34 2,856
Michael Carrick Man Utd 0 28 1,817 2,376 29 2,413
Tom Cleverley Man Utd 0 10 1,019 1,373 22 1,579
Marouane Fellaini Man Utd 1 8 911 1,347 19 1,376
Darren Fletcher Man Utd 0 7 596 762 12 779
Anderson Man Utd 0 4 98 144 4 155

The attacking and possession stats above indicate McCarthy is the most creative player when compared to the United midfield, with more assists and assisted shots than any player. In terms of accurate passes and touches on the ball he actually comes behind several United players (per game), though only narrowly. Such statistics may be a result of many teams dropping deeper against the Old Trafford club than they do against Everton.

  TeamBall RecoveryWon TackleDuel WonInterceptionAppsMins
James McCarthy Everton 193 84 194 52 34 2,856
Michael Carrick Man Utd 223 43 110 80 29 2,413
Tom Cleverley Man Utd 124 40 89 34 22 1,579
Marouane Fellaini Man Utd 118 42 150 33 19 1,376
Darren Fletcher Man Utd 54 6 28 15 12 779
Anderson Man Utd 7 5 8 3 4 155

McCarthy also proves himself to be a decent disruptor of opposition play, with a stronger percentage of won tackles than anyone except Fellaini, while also coming second to the Belgian when it comes to winning duels - pretty impressive considering the Irishman doesn't have the traditional physique of a defensive midfield player. One area McCarthy does fall short in compared to United midfielders is intercepting play, an area that Michael Carrick continues to shine in.

McCarthy looks like he would certainly be a decent addition to the United central midfield department, particularly as a player that can contribute both defensively and offensively. Only Michael Carrick comes close to matching the former Wigan man's ability to create shooting opportunities for his side. Whether McCarthy wants to go, or should, is another question entirely.

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