Irish-eligible striker Patrick Bamford missed out on selection for England’s 33-man provisional squad ahead of the European Championships next month.
Gareth Southgate selected 10 attackers in the draft squad – nine of whom had less goal involvements than Bamford in the Premier League this season. The Leeds United star can feel aggrieved after a 17-goal season in the Premier League as he spearheaded Marcelo Bielsa’s blistering Leeds attack.
The 27-year-old bagged more this season than he had in any other as his goals helped lead the newly promoted Leeds to a ninth-place finish. The striker is yet to receive an English cap in his career – an achievement many felt he was going to earn this summer.
Now may be a good time for Stephen Kenny to rethink his stance on the ‘granny rule’ and maybe Bamford may reconsider his dream of playing for England. Three strikers were chosen ahead of Bamford –Tottenham’s Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins. Bamford outscored the latter duo across the league campaign while also racking up seven assists. Ollie Watkins managed five assists with his 14 goals while Calvert-Lewin failed to register one to go with his 16 goals.
The Leeds number nine made his way up the scoring charts at the same rate as Everton’s number nine with a goal every two games. Harry Kane is the only one of the three Bamford could not compete against – England’s frontman finished top scorer and top playmaker for the 20/21 season on 23 goals and 14 assists. Paddy Power sign up offers would have been nice backing him to score over 15 goals his season at 3/1
However, Bamford also took more shots than Calvert-Lewin and Watkins during the campaign with his shots being less accurate when compared to those chosen ahead of him.
He converted 19% of his opportunities on goal – the worst conversion rate of the four strikers in question. The Southgate snub missed 21 big chances in the league this season, two more than any other player and four more than Calvert-Lewin, the highest of the three England stars.
Yet, these statistics do not paint the full picture of a player. Lyon attacker Karl Toko-Ekambi averaged a conversion rate of 20% from 70 shots in Ligue 1 this season with a rate of five shots per goal. Toko-Ekambi’s role in the Lyon set-up involves more than just goals though.The Cameroonian is tasked with defensive responsibilities such as breaking up opposition play high up the pitch and starting counterattacks and does his job well.
His 1.4 key passes per game reflect his importance in the final third for his club.Marcelo Bielsa’s first-choice striker doubles as a playmaker for Leeds and made 1.2 key passes per game this season. Calvert-Lewin and Watkins made more passes on average but not enough key passes to outdo Bamford. Bamford provides similar numbers to Toko-Ekambi at a more efficient rate, attempting 12 less passes per game.
Over in Italy, Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a whopping 29 goals to collect the Capocannoniere this season but missed 27 big chances along the way. The Portuguese forward is not weighed down by this statistic, but Bamford’s number is held against him online. The fact that a player can get into such a position for a big chance to be possible should be praised.
If Patrick Bamford were able to get into a position where he could score 38 times in a season – once a game – then that is something that should be applauded, especially if he scores on 17 of those occasions.
These 17 goals have come from an expected goals figure of 19.34, proving that Bamford is under-performing. But he is not ‘under-performing to the extent many believe – his chances throughout the season meant he should have scored around 20 goals and he did.
Bamford’s 17 goals translate to 10 points that were necessary for Leeds’ top-half finish. Adding the seven assists and his ever-presence at the tip of the Leeds frontline only serves as further compliments to his playstyle. It is not just the numbers that flatters Patrick Bamford – his movement and distribution has been of a high quality this season.
The striker drifts away from defenders often in games and tends to stay close-by when one of Leeds’ other attackers are in on goal so he can pounce on the opportunity for a tap-in. His runs are smart in both timing and positioning, frequently choosing to break away from the opposition back line at the last moment after previously moving away from his marker.
The uncapped Englishman has racked up only 18 offsides, 15 less than Ollie Watkins managed and as many as Calvert-Lewin in five more games. This facet of his game has been crucial when it comes to his goalscoring. However, his ability in the air does not compare to his counterparts with only 1.2 aerial duels won per game.
Ollie Watkins wins more duels than Bamford contests per game while Calvert-Lewin’s role at Everton revolves around his aerial prowess. Regardless, his quality in the attacking third, especially in a front line alongside wingers, is nothing to scoff at.
His importance in the Leeds United line up extends beyond the execution of his chances into a role that improves the attacking ability of the side. Most national sides would be drooling over a striker who has just enjoyed a 17-goal season but for Bamford, this is not the case. Bamford’s dream of earning a cap for the English national team has escaped him once again, but it should be over by now.
Gareth Southgate made his move – Stephen Kenny is up next.