The transition from Ange Postecoglou’s style of play to what Brendan Rodgers is trying to accomplish has understandably come with some bumps.

These issues have been compounded by a significant amount of player injuries, but one player who has remained fit and been a consistent starter during both regimes is Daizen Maeda. 

With Jota’s departure in the summer transfer window, along with new arrival Marco Tilio still recovering from a pre-existing injury and Luis Palma’s arrival late in the window, Maeda has been a core part of the starting eleven under Rodgers at the wing position.

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With Palma’s arrival, Tilio’s presumed eventual recovery, and Liel Abada’s recent long-term injury, from whom is Celtic likely to get consistent chance creation from the wing position? 

A lot of the time, statistical measurements simply confirm what many can see and support common narratives. The first radar comparing various attack-related metrics for all league games for Maeda and Jota during their respective tenures at Celtic likely fits that description. As most probably expect, Jota’s overall attacking output was higher than Maeda’s, with his ability to create chances for teammates and advance the ball in possession significantly higher.

The second radar compares both players’ tenures showing the various components of StatsBomb’s on-ball value model, and here we see the dramatic overall advantage in Jota’s favour. Again - likely unsurprising to most - Maeda’s advantage was solely in metrics relating to defending. 

With Jota’s departure, let us contrast Abada with Maeda, starting with the same attacking radar:

Here we see that Abada’s issues in beating defenders one versus one via dribbles are reflected, but still marginally ahead of Maeda’s. In addition, Abada’s overall attacking output is far closer to that of Jota’s, including chance creation for teammates. 

The on-ball value radar once again displays Maeda’s expected advantage relative to defending, but also the relative lack of contribution given the dearth of volumes domestically. Overall, Abada’s ability to attack and even advance possession via carries, results in his overall on-ball value metric dwarfing Maeda’s.   

Given his price tag and the timing of the signing, Palma’s arrival likely introduces a competitive threat for a starting position to both Maeda and Abada. At least against the vast majority of domestic opposition, Abada appears to be deserving of primary consideration, but what does Palma profile as?My data benchmarking exercise for Palma’s most recent campaign in Greece suggests his season was more of a quantity-over-quality profile. My proxies for athleticism rate him relatively highly, but decision-making relative to shot selection and chance creation appears as if it may be an issue. These could be amplified while facing domestic opposition who play deep defensive lines crowding their penalty areas.

In addition, both his volumes and efficiencies for defensive actions are in the bottom third of his peer group for last season in Greece. Perhaps he can be coached up to be a more efficient and active defender and presser?

While Yang Hyun-Jun has shown his adeptness at being direct and pacey, here is his data benchmarking exercise, which was conducted in July:His limited sample size of play has so far largely conformed to that data profile, as his decision-making in the attacking third, as reflected in the benchmarking exercise with xA per shot assist metric at a very low 12th percentile, while also suggesting a high action and pacey style of play. 

Perhaps Marco Tilio’s eventual recovery and inclusion may offer more creativity?That is the benchmarking exercise from June, and it suggests Tilio’s ball progression in the A-League was excellent, but once again, average chance creation was about average for his peer group. Given his profile, this broader analysis leaves me with one conviction, which is that Abada’s long-term absence due to injury is a major loss.

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Between Palma, Yang, Tilio, and Maeda, I do not yet see a likely candidate to offer the level of chance creation out of the winger position that Celtic supporters have been accustomed to since Brendan Rodgers’ first tenure.