Aleksander Mitrovic had an eventful first season in England. In his first start at St James’ Park, he was sent off. In his last Premier League game at St James’ Park for at least a year, he was sent off. In between those two red cards, he showed some real promise.
Mitrovic was Newcastle’s second top scorer by the end of the season, despite making only 22 starts. He was key in their late bid to stay up, and is only 21 years old. If there’s one player worth rescuing from the Championship at Newcastle, it’s Mitrovic.
Mitrovic finished the season with nine goals and four assists. After taking the penalties out, he scored seven goals, or 0.30 non penalty goals per 90 minutes, similar to fellow young striker Anthony Martial 0.38 non penalty goals per 90.
While his goal output numbers are nothing special, his underlying numbers look very promising. His 2.98 shots inside the penalty box per 90 minutes put him sixth in the league.
Looking into the more advanced statistics, his expected goal numbers also look very good. Expected goals in a statistic that measures the chance of a shot becoming a goal (For a more in depth explanation read here). Paul Riley‘s expected goals model had Mitrovic as 12th in the league in individual expected goals with 8.78 expected goals. On top of that, he was fifth in the league in expected goal per shot, of people that took more than 25 open play shots on target, behind only Olivier Giroud, Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Aguero, and Diego Costa.
Mitrovic is good, it’s just a matter of which teams should look at buying him. There are a few teams that need strikers, but two that come to mind are Southampton and Swansea City.
Southampton have become the model for teams looking to establish themselves in the Premier League. They’ve improved on their points tally every year since coming up in 2012, despite massive squad turnover every year.
At the moment, they could use a new striker. Graziano Pelle will be 31 by the time next season starts, Charlie Austin has a questionable injury history, and Shane Long plays more as a utility man than an out an out striker for Ronald Koeman.
Mitrovic would fit in well with Southampton’s policy of buying players young then selling them for profit. His height and strength in the air fits the profile of their recent strikers and could work well in Koeman’s cross heavy system. As of May second, 47% of Southampton’s shots in the “danger zone” came from crosses, eighth most in the league, according to Michael Caley‘s advanced statistics page.
After finishing eighth last season with their record points tally, the Swans fell off this year, finishing 12th and they had to dig themselves out of a relegation battle.
One of their big problems was their lack of a decent striker. After four goals in four games to start the season, Bafetimi Gomis fell off dramatically, scoring only two more Premier League goals for the rest of the year. They brought in Alberto Paloschi midseason, but he scored only two goals in 666 minutes.
Mitrovic has some problems, specifically his temper. His two violent conduct red cards have shown that he needs to work on controlling his emotions, but the 21 year old looks like he has a lot of potential. With Newcastle going down, Mitrovic could be available for a cut price and could be a gamble worth taking.
*All statistics via Squawka.com unless noted otherwise