Stats: Eto'o v Welbeck - have Everton made the wiser move?

Was it the right decision for Everton to sign 33-year-old Samuel Eto'o over making a long-term investment in Manchester United's Danny Welbeck?

Despite the summer signing of Romelu Lukaku for a club record £28 million fee, Everton manager Roberto Martinez made it no secret that he was after additional firepower up top before the transfer deadline.

With his two main targets widely reported to be Samuel Eto’o and Danny Welbeck, it was the former who Martinez plumped for in the end, opting against investing for the long-term in the out-of-favour Manchester United striker.

Finances no doubt had a significant hand in the decision, with Welbeck’s asking price reported to be around £14 million – a substantial fee to hand over considering what the club have just paid to bring Lukaku back on a permanent basis.

Eto’o, meanwhile, arrives at Goodison Park on a free transfer, following the expiration of his Chelsea contract, having scored a commendable nine goals in 21 Premier League games last season, with 16 of those appearances being starts.

Aged 33, the Cameroonian international’s goalscoring powers have waned somewhat since he netted 182 times in 302 games between spells at Barcelona and Inter Milan in the mid-to-late 2000s, but there’s no doubt that he still has something to offer the Toffees as a proven rotational option.

Signed on until 2016, Eto’o and his 23-year-old equivalent are of course at entirely different stages of their respective careers but, if Martinez was just after a short-term fix, then the stats suggest that he has lost little immediate value in opting for experience over promise.

  2013-14Goalsmins / GoalsBig Chance ScoredTotal Scoring AttScoring v Shooting AccShooting AccBig Chance MissedClear Cut Chances ScoredAppsMins
Danny Welbeck Man Utd 9 162.11 8 46 19.57% 41.30% 4 66.67% 25 1,459
Samuel Eto'o Chelsea 9 145.11 4 59 15.25% 44.07% 6 40.00% 21 1,306

It’s interesting to note that almost all of Welbeck’s nine strikes last season came from the 12 clear cut chances which fell to him, with Eto'o proving somewhat more wasteful in front of goal. Otherwise, the pair match up well, but one could argue the veteran benefited from having more service around him in the Chelsea lineup.

  2013-14Goal AssistTotal Att AssistBig Chance CreatedTotal DuelWon Duel (%)Total ContestOverrunWon Contest (%)AppsMins
Danny Welbeck Man Utd 1 13 1 186 42.47 49 6 38.18 25 1,459
Samuel Eto'o Chelsea 2 22 4 146 34.93 48 3 35.29 21 1,306

Looking past pure goalscoring, Welbeck looks to be the better striker when it comes to winning possession but, despite past beliefs that he could develop into a more creative weapon in time, Eto'o was in fact the superior in that department last season.

When it comes to beating an opposing man, there's no significant difference between the two.

  2013-14Total Passmins / Total PassPass AccTouchesmins / TouchesUnsuccessful TouchPoss Lost AllDispossessedAppsMins
Danny Welbeck Man Utd 523 2.79 87.38% 834 1.75 39 185 40 25 1,459
Samuel Eto'o Chelsea 326 4.01 76.07% 550 2.37 21 174 34 21 1,306

It might well have been down to differing roles in their respective sides, but Welbeck was much more involved on the ball in the United side, with a clear edge in the passing game over Eto'o, while also proving less wasteful when taking into account the larger sample size.

However, if Martinez intends to use Eto'o more as a pure poacher off the bench then it's perhaps not of such significance.

Well-regarded when coming through the Old Trafford ranks, Welbeck no doubt still has a great deal of potential to fill and, despite his progress stalling in recent times, one would hope his all-round game will improve over the coming seasons.

Deemed surplus to requirements under new boss Louis van Gaal, the England international would pose an intriguing reclamation project, considering Martinez's reputation for developing talent, but the sizeable price tag for a frontman who has still to top 10 goals in a top-flight season is hard to ignore.

With the imposing Lukaku already on board, it's understandable that a club who has traditionally been among the most sensible spending-wise would go for the cheaper and more experienced option and, for what the club needs for 2014-15 at least, the move for Eto'o ticks all the right boxes.


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