Comment and Analysis @ghostgoal
Can Jordon Ibe fulfil his Liverpool potential at Bournemouth?
Last Updated: 04/12/16 2:22pm
Jordon Ibe became Bournemouth’s record signing when he joined from Liverpool in July. With the winger having made a mixed start to life with the Cherries, Adam Bate examines the stats that shine a light on his potential… and the areas in which Ibe must improve.
Derby coach Steve McClaren called him "unplayable" during a loan spell. Brendan Rodgers identified his "top class" potential at Liverpool. Eddie Howe feels England should be his aim. But it's not only coaches talking up the talents of young winger Jordon Ibe.
When Raheem Sterling left Liverpool, John Aldridge soon hailed Ibe as superior. Fellow Reds old boy Jamie Redknapp has since pointed to his greater natural ability. "Anything Raheem Sterling struggles with, Jordon Ibe can do," he told the Bournemouth Daily Echo in the summer.
It wasn't mere hyperbole. Brad Smith saw both men up close at Liverpool and Bournemouth. He agreed. But putting talent into practice is the challenge and while Sterling stars for Manchester City, Cherries fans are still waiting to see the best of their £15m record signing.
Ibe was substituted in each of his first 11 Premier League appearances for his new club. In his most recent start, the home defeat to Sunderland, he was withdrawn at half-time, only returning to the team for a second-half run out in the defeat to Arsenal last weekend.
"The only thing Jordon has struggled with for me has been consistency," said Howe. "He's had some great moments, some good 10 or 15 minutes, half an hours, but he's not really put that together for any real consistent period and hence why he's coming off the pitch."
Premier League 2016/17 - Most frequent dribblers
|Player||Team||Successful dribbles / 90||Dribble success rate|
|Wilfried Zaha||Crystal Palace||5.1||63%|
Ibe's dribbling stats hint at his capabilities. He beats a man every 23 minutes, far more often than any of his team-mates. In fact, that puts him among the top-six dribblers in the Premier League. Meanwhile, only Jack Wilshere has fashioned more opportunities for Bournemouth.
But while the numbers illustrate Ibe's potential threat, they do not tell the tale that's all too apparent on the eye - there's a wastefulness to his work that needs to improve. Whether it's dribbling in bad areas or picking the wrong pass, decision making is an issue for Ibe.
Consider that aforementioned list of dribblers. The difference between the five players who complete a dribble more often than Ibe isn't just the quantity but also the quality. His dribble success rate of 60 per cent is inferior to all of them. Fellow fledgling winger Adama Traore's is up at 81 per cent.
It's not that Ibe is failing to get into good positions, but that he must be more effective when in those positions. His total of 37 touches in the opposition box is by far the most of any Premier League player this season without scoring a goal, providing an assist or creating a clear chance.
Touches in opposition box without a goal, assist or big chance created
|Premier League 2016/17||Team||Touches|
|Simone Zaza||West Ham||23|
|Antonio Valencia||Manchester United||23|
Of course, there is plenty of time for Ibe to solve these problems. This is a 20-year-old winger, after all, and he has made a positive decision for the benefit of his future: the decision to play. Regular Premier League football is surely going to aid his development.
"He's got great potential, he's a player that could be anything he wants to be, and these are early steps for him here," said Howe of a player who has also had to deal with being robbed at knife-point earlier this month. "We do tend to forget how young he is."
Sunday's game at home to former club Liverpool, live on Sky Sports 1 HD, might be the sort of occasion in which to unleash Ibe once more. Indeed, he was the star performer for the Reds on their previous visit in April - playing a pivotal role in both goals in a 2-1 win for Jurgen Klopp's men.
"He did well with the pass for the first goal, and the cross for the second. I was very happy," said Klopp that day. "He's still a brilliant, big, big talent which is very good for English football." Perhaps Sunday will give us our next glimpse of what that vast talent can do.