Matthew Pennington has been on loan at Leeds United from Everton this season, but has he done enough to earn a permanent deal at Elland Road?
Pennington is a former England U19 defender who can operate at centre half or right back. He’s been out on loan before, firstly at Tranmere then Coventry and Walsall.
Last season he remained at Goodison and hit the headlines when he grabbed their only goal of a 2-1 Merseyside derby defeat. He has nine Everton outings on his CV so far, including six Premier League starts.
His Leeds spell is his highest profile out on loan yet, but has he made an impression whilst wearing the white?
He has just 18 league appearances to his name, which has been down to an early-season injury. Upon returning to fitness he’s struggled to hold down a permanent first team spot, something which doesn’t bode well for any future deal.
His defensive statistics don’t read particularly well unfortunately. He averages 0.9 tackles per game, which equates to around 17 tackles during his entire Elland Road stay. For a defender, that isn’t a good figure at all. He does win 2.7 aerial duels per game, but again is that sufficient for a Championship defender? Even if the aerial duels can be accepted, the tackles per game isn’t impressive.
He’s received three yellow cards too, which strengthens the suggestion that tackling isn’t his strong point. If he’s only made 17 successful tackles and received three yellow cards, I’d be concerned that he isn’t up to the required standard, or certainly hasn’t shown it at Leeds.
He does seem to be a ball-playing defender though and it is here that he redeems himself somewhat. He averages 23.8 passes per game, showing he can get on the ball and move it around accurately. His average pass success arte is 74%, an impressive number for a defender.
The question posed was ‘has Pennington done enough to earn a permanent Leeds move?’ The answer, in my opinion, is no.
It doesn’t make him a bad player, but I don’t think his spell at Elland Road has been a success, the numbers suggest there’s a neat passing player in there, but defensively he hasn’t cut the mustard and I can’t see a future for him with Paul Heckingbottom’s side.