We were all quick to dismiss Chelsea’s summer push for Anthony Gordon as the latest in a rich recent history of transfer missteps, but now that Newcastle are interested we’re really wondering what top Premier League clubs are seeing that we aren’t.
Oh how we laughed as Todd Boehly courted Anthony Gordon in the summer. Sitting on a pot of gold, the daft American owner – he of All Star game proposals and false academy claims – offered £40m for a player who claimed four goals and two assists in 35 games in his first full Premier League season.
It appeared Chelsea’s new chief had evolved the transfer policy from the Roman Abramovich days which saw the club sign forwards who promised much but delivered little, to one which would see them sign those without even much promise to begin with. It’s a surprise Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner haven’t been or weren’t a success at Chelsea; it would be a surprise if Anthony Gordon was.
Gordon echoed the thoughts of everyone as he admitted the £60m price tag Everton put on his head was “absolutely crazy”. But the club was on a high having escaped relegation, with the fans warming to a manager they thought could be their saviour, who appeared to oversee a transfer window which would take them back towards mid-table.
With Gordon something of a beacon of hope as an academy product who had given his all in the latter stages of the season, you could sort of understand the club valuing him so highly. It certainly wouldn’t have been wise to let him go without a fight.
Since then, Gordon has scored three goals having started roughly half of Everton’s Premier League games. There’s been a downturn in his performances if anything and yet, just at the point at which Everton may well have been wishing they had taken Chelsea’s money and run, Newcastle appear with the very same offer of £40m.
It’s at this point that we really begin to question what we’re missing. Chelsea transfer mistakes are ten a penny, but Newcastle have barely put a foot wrong since their new owners took charge. And they apparently see Gordon as the natural next move after Bruno Guimaraes, Nick Pope, Sven Botman and Alexander Isak, and presumably someone who can thrive in Stage Two of their journey to join the elite. What do they see that we don’t?
Gordon has no assists and has created one big chance this season. He is fifth at Everton and 146th behind Fabian Schar (1.91) in the Premier League for shot-creating actions, on 1.89 for 90 minutes. His dribble success percentage of 22.7% is the lowest at Everton and only two of the 30 players to have attempted more than Gordon’s 44 dribbles in the Premier League have a lower rate of success (Jarrod Bowen – 20.4%; Harvey Barnes – 21.7%) . 67 players in the Premier League win possession in the final third more than Gordon’s rate of 0.7 per 90 minutes.
To his credit he has the seventh best shots on target percentage in the top flight with 61.5%, but then the 68th best goals-per-shot ratio with three from 26. According to the WhoScored ratings for the Premier League this season, Gordon is the 155th best player in the division. If that therefore makes him the 155th most valuable player in the Premier League (we know it doesn’t work like that), Transfermarkt reckons he should cost Newcastle €22m (£19.4m), and that would put him in the same bracket as Che Adams and Caglar Soyuncu.
“Under Eddie Howe and in a good side, he could fly,” Danny Murphy reckons, and he could, but it also feels as though most young players would “fly” at Newcastle right now, and a lot of them more so than Gordon .
There will be stats and analysis to which we’re not privy, and we can’t speak to Gordon’s character or attitude, which may be among immeasurables which will actually try to make him a snip. We still doubt it, but Newcastle’s interest suggests we may be wrong about Gordon as he is no longer just further evidence of Chelsea’s transfer folly.