Everton fans should manage Tosun expectations next term

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Cenk Tosun of Everton celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Everton at Bet365 Stadium on March 17, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Cenk Tosun of Everton celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Everton at Bet365 Stadium on March 17, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images) /

The Turkish striker made a solid start to his Premier League career after his January transfer from Besiktas. However, Everton fans should not expect him to be prolific next year.

Cenk Tosun’s first goal for Everton was clinical. It was a cool header in a otherwise scrappy game against Burnley in early March. As the Blues grafted on the right wing, Tosun hovered in the box, finding a gaping space between two Claret defenders.

He anticipated Theo Walcott’s cross effectively, and adjusted his position as its trajectory changed. A less-focused player would have been left flatfooted by the ball, which flicked off Seamus Coleman’s head on its way into the box.

The placement of Tosun’s finish was sublime. The header was low and firm, nestling in the bottom right-hand corner past Burnley’s in-form goalkeeper Nick Pope.

Tosun’s first tally epitomises many of his strengths. The Turkish striker is cool headed, and reacts quickly to build-up play around the penalty area. His finishing is solid, and is shot-selection is sound. He is invariably where he needs to be to convert clear cut chances.

It hints at his weaknesses too. Tosun is often left isolated – and whilst he is good at knitting play together in the opposition third, he seems sluggish on the ball, and does not cover a lot of ground. Moreover, the Turkish striker seemed somewhat fortunate in the box last year. In many games, he was afforded a bizarre amount space by the opposition. This should not be the case in 2018-19.

It is likely that Tosun is over-hyped by Everton fans. The statistics do not point to a dominant player in the mould of Romelu Lukaku. But what can we expect from the Turkish striker next season?

Tosun’s lucky streak

With no apparent plans to sign a striker this summer, Everton will rely on Tosun for goals. But, his decent haul in the second half of last year may be a statistical anomaly.

According to The Premier League, Tosun managed eight shots on target last season in 990 minutes. He converted five. This gives the Turkish striker a whopping 62.5% conversion rate – a feat unmatched by any of the top 25 goalscorers in last season’s domestic competition.

For context, the average conversion rate amongst this group was 39%. If Tosun were to shoot the same amount of shots on target, but fall back to average conversion rate next season, he would manage just seven goals for the entire campaign.

Expected goals tell a similar story. According to Understat, Tosun converted opportunities at a rate to obtain just 3.19 goals in his 14 Everton appearances. Interestingly, the much maligned Oumar Niasse managed to accrue 7.42 xGoals in just 1075 minutes of Premier League football.

It’s unlikely that Niasse is a superior striker to Tosun, but this comparison does suggest that Tosun flattered to deceive last year. It’s true that the former Besiktas man has looked lethal in front of goal – but is this streak down to skill, or luck? Tosun’s inflated statistics suggest that it might be the latter.

A realistic season for Tosun and Everton

No one wants Tosun to score a middling amount next season. A new manager, with an attack-focused ethos, will likely give the Turkish striker far more chances. Following, Tosun should get more scoring opportunities, and therefore, he should score more.

Yet, it is entirely possible that Tosun will not reach the ten goal milestone. So far this summer, Everton have done little to improve their supply line, and without creative teammates, Tosun could struggle. Tosun is not a dynamic player – he rarely dribbles, and he prefers to carve out space in the box, rather than bully defenders. If the Blues are forced to rely on physicality rather than flair next year, it is difficult to imagine Tosun flourishing.

For my part, I see Tosun playing a more expansive role. Whilst his scoring ability may be exaggerated, his skill at knitting play together was underplayed by his boxscores. Last year, he was active in the link-up, averaging 18.79 passes per match, and creating two big chances according to the Premier League. 

It is wrong to say that Cenk is a poacher. In fact, he has more playmaking skill than any other striker in Everton’s squad. Therefore, he could be given a wider remit, mixing the responsibilities of both a false-nine and a fox-in-the-box.

This would remove pressure from the Everton midfield – and perhaps open a position for Niasse or Dominic Calvert-Lewin too. As aforementioned, Niasse’s high expected goals, and high goals per 90, suggest he deserves an extended look next year.  

Next: Can Klaassen and Vlasic improve creativity?

If Tosun ends 2018-19 with around eight goals and a handful of assists, I would view his year a success – and a realistic representation of his skill too. It is key that Marco Silva analyses the Turk’s performance deeply, so that Everton can get the best out of him.