Alexandre Lacazette leads Ligue 1 with 11 goals this season, the forward is averaging 3.8 shots per game, but surprisingly former Leeds United star Max-Alain Gradel isn’t far behind the France international – averaging 3.3 shots, which puts him in the top four in the league.
When the forward first made the move from England to France, he found it hard to force his way into the first-team at Saint-Etienne.
In what is now his fourth season at Les Verts, the 26-year-old has scored three times in 13 games, and could be on course to top his highest return of six.
The only players who have attempted more shots than Gradel this season are Lacazette, Edinson Cavani and Andre-Pierre Gignac, all of whom have scored more than the Ivorian, but it shows that he is getting into the right positions. Something that is positive news for Coach Christophe Galtier.
Although they sit sixth in Ligue 1, the 13 goals the team have scored is the 11th best record in the league. Gradel is in fact Saint-Etienne’s joint top scorer this season, which highlights the troubles they have been having in front of goal this campaign.
Erding started the season well, but with only 1.5 shots per game, injuries and failing to score since the second week, has seen the Turkish striker’s confidence drop.
In the last five league games, Gradel has started three times and scored twice, but if Saint-Etienne wants to improve their efficiency in front of goal, they need to find a way to either get Gradel in better goal scoring positions or create more than 1.1 shots per game for Van Wolfswinkel.
Galtier’s side are currently in the running for a place in next season’s Europa League, but if they have to rely on Gradel to be their main goal threat this season, no disrespect to the former Leeds man, but they need more reliable options in the final third.
Gradel also leads Saint-Etienne in key passes per game, but if you need him to be both the creator and goal scorer, you are going to run into problems sooner rather than later.