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Arsenal make approach to sign Saka rival who’s likened to Havertz

Written by on June 6, 2024

The Premier League season only just came to an end, and the European Championships are right around the corner, but there’s no time to sit back and take it in at Arsenal, as Mikel Arteta, Edu Gaspar, and the entire recruitment team have a few months to try and close the gap to Manchester City.

The most commonly held opinion is that the North Londoners need to bring in a new number nine this summer, and while that’s probably true, they really ought to sign someone to provide Bukayo Saka with some genuine competition on the right.

Luckily, Edu and Co seem to agree with this sentiment, and the latest player touted for a move to N5 might be able to do precisely that while also winning comparisons to last year’s surprise signing, Kai Havertz.

Arsenal transfer news

According to reports from Spain, Arsenal are one of several sides interested in Girona’s star winger, Viktor Tsyhankov, who is valued at around €30m – £26m.


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The story has claimed that the Gunners and AC Milan have approached the Spanish side over the player, while North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur are also interested.

While the interest of these other parties is far from ideal, the Premier League runners-up have an advantage, as the report has also revealed that he likes the idea of working under Arteta and believes he’d fit in with the team brilliantly.


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With the price tag seeming reasonable enough and the player himself apparently wanting to join the club, Arsenal must get this deal done, as signing a player to challenge Saka next season could be incredibly beneficial.

How Tsyhankov compares to Saka and Havertz

Now, the first thing to clear up is that there are very few players in world football that Arteta would drop Saka for. So, if he does bring Tsyhankov to the club this summer, it’ll likely be under the pretence that his role in the team is to challenge the Englishman and allow him to be substituted more often or rest in the less important games overall.

With that said, though, how do the pair stack up with each other? Well, when it comes to pure output, it’s the Hale End superstar who unsurprisingly comes out on top, with his 34 goals and assists in 47 games far better than the Ukranian’s still impressive 15 goals and assists in just 34 games.

However, things look a little closer than most might expect when looking at the pair’s underlying numbers from the league season.

Tsyhankov vs Saka

Stats per 90

Tsyhankov

Saka

Non-Penalty Expected Goals + Assists

0.53

0.65

Assists

0.31

0.28

Non-Penalty Goals

0.35

0.31

Progressive Passes

3.90

3.89

Progressive Carries

2.85

4.78

Progressive Passes Received

9.91

15.7

Shots

1.93

3.14

Goals per Shot

0.18

0.10

Passing Accuracy

78.9%

75.6%

Shot-Creating Actions

3.21

5.80

Successful Take-Ons

0.96

1.51

All Stats via FBref for the 23/24 League Season

For example, while the Englishman still comes out on top overall, he’s second best in several key metrics, such as passing accuracy, goals per shot, progressive passes, assists, and non-penalty goals, all per 90.

So, while the former Dynamo Kyiv star would likely remain a bench option in North London, he might be able to force his way into the team more often than people think.


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With that said, where have the comparisons to Havertz come from? Well, that comes from FBref, which looks at all players in Europe’s top five leagues and creates a list of the ten most similar players.

For the Girona ace, the German is considered the 8th most similar player when the pair play in midfield.

Tsyhankov & Havertz

Stats per 90

Tsyhankov

Havertz

Non-Penalty Expected Goals + Assists

0.53

0.54

Non-Penalty Goals

0.35

0.41

Progressive Passes

3.90

3.38

Goals per Shot

0.18

0.18

Passing Accuracy

78.9%

80.0%

Tackles + Interceptions

1.80

1.88

Blocks

0.79

0.89

Goal-Creating Actions

0.57

0.75

All Stats via FBref for the 23/24 League Season

This similarity can be seen through several of their underlying numbers, such as non-penalty expected goals and assists, progressive passes, goals per shot, passing accuracy, tackles and interceptions, blocks, goal-creating actions and non-penalty goals, all per 90.

Ultimately, with the price looking quite reasonable, his impressive numbers relative to Saka, and his similarity to Havertz, signing Tsyhankov this summer looks like a brilliant idea, and therefore, Edu and Co must do all they can to get this deal done.

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