Champion League

Leeds could unearth their own Haaland in Farke’s 6 ft 1 finisher

Leeds United have made an excellent start to the 2023/24 Championship campaign following on from their relegation from the Premier League at the end of last term.

The Whites finished in the bottom three of the top-flight and dropped back down to the second tier after three seasons at the top table of English football.

Daniel Farke’s side are currently third in the division and fighting for promotion back at the first time of asking. Although, they are nine points off the automatic places, having played one more match than Ipswich Town, as the top two are starting to run away with the league.



daniel-farke-leeds-united-championship

The Yorkshire-based outfit most recently dropped points in a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City on Wednesday night in what was a frustrating evening for the club, with a missed Patrick Bamford penalty followed swiftly by an own goal from Pascal Struijk.

Summer signing Joel Piroe led the line and failed to produce the goods as he missed a ‘big chance’ and only managed one shot on target in 70 minutes on the pitch.

The Dutch marksman has now only scored once in his last five Championship matches for Leeds but that should not be a major concern as the quality is there for him to return to goalscoring form.

In fact, the young finisher could have the potential to be Farke’s own, second tier version, of the prolific Manchester City ace Erling Haaland.

Why Haaland and Piroe are similar forwards

In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Piroe namechecked the Norway international as a player he likes to watch and learn from as the former Swans star believes that there are similarities in the way they both play.

The impressive Dutchman mentioned that the runs Haaland makes for City to create chances for himself is something that he would like to do more of in his game in this new fluid role that Leeds are asking him to play.

Interestingly, he also named Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard as an inspiration for his play in possession when asked to collect the ball in deeper positions, due to the Norwegian magician’s ability as a second striker who can control the midfield.

Piroe, who led the line for Swansea in recent seasons, has been deployed as a hybrid of a number ten and a striker alongside Georgino Rutter this season.

Farke came out in defence of his decision to play the 6 foot 1 ace in that role. The German tactician stated that he wants his forwards to be constantly pressing and causing problems for the opposition and that is not Piroe’s strength.

However, the ex-Norwich boss lauded his finishing as “world-class” and that is why this role is perfect for him as Rutter can press and stretch the defence and leave space for the left-footed whiz to push forward into the final third to get on the end of passes and crosses to punish teams.

As Piroe alluded to in his interview, this is what works for Haaland and Julian Alvarez for Pep Guardiola as they complement each other perfectly and the Argentina international’s movement creates the room his strike partner needs to be a constant goal threat.

The statistics that show Piroe is a big goal threat

Since arriving from Swansea during the summer transfer window, Piroe has scored five goals in ten Championship appearances for the Whites.

Crysencio Summerville (four) is the only other player at the club with more than two goals and this shows that the lethal forward has been Farke’s outstanding goalscoring option so far this season.

The 24-year-old ace has only missed four ‘big chances’ in total for the Whites and has found the back of the net five times from 3.9 xG (Expected Goals), which shows that he has overperformed in front of goal in terms of the quality of chances that have been put away.



Rutter-Piroe-Leeds

This comes after the superb marksman enjoyed a fantastic season with Swansea at Championship level last season. Piroe racked up 19 goals in 43 appearances, despite his teammates only creating 13.20 xG worth of chances for him.

He also outperformed his xG during his debut year in English football with the Swans throughout the 2021/22 campaign. The former PSV prospect produced an eye-catching 22 goals from 16.67 xG over the course of his 45 league outings.

In total, Piroe has scored 46 times from 33.77 xG at Championship level for Swansea and Leeds combined since the start of the 2021/22 season, which is an overperformance of 12.23 goals.

This backs up Farke’s claim that the Whites centre-forward’s finishing is ‘world-class’ as it shows that he has been incredibly clinical at the top end of the pitch by significantly outperforming his xG over the course of over two seasons.

Therefore, if Piroe can learn from Haaland’s movement and implement that in matches for Leeds, coupled with his teammates being able to pick out his runs, then the manager could have his own version of the City star at Elland Road.

Haaland’s Manchester City statistics

The 23-year-old phenomenon, who was born in Leeds, has scored nine goals in nine Premier League matches so far this season for the champions.

He has racked up that number from 6.19 xG and came into this term off the back of a record-breaking debut campaign in English football last term.

Haaland broke the record for the most goals in a single Premier League season with 36 goals in 35 top-flight appearances for the Cityzens, despite only having 25.23 xG.

Erling Haaland

At Manchester City (via Transfermarkt)

Appearances

67

Goals

63

Assists

11

Trophies

Four

This means that Haaland has scored a stunning 45 goals from 31.42 xG for City since the start of the 2022/23 campaign, which is an overperformance of 13.58 goals.

These statistics show that there is already an argument to be made that Piroe is the Championship version of the Norwegian superstar as they are both similarly prolific in how they are able to outperform the quality of chances that come their way.

However, Haaland has only scored one fewer goal in English football despite playing only playing one-and-a-bit-seasons, which suggests that the Leeds star could improve the frequency of his scoring.

Learning from the City ace’s movement and running off the ball to create opportunities could result in Piroe having higher-quality chances, which could help him to improve his goalscoring output and be Farke’s own Haaland.

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