Phillip Cocu is closing in on his first signing since taking over as manager of Derby County, with midfielder Kieran Dowell set to join on a season-long loan from Premier League side Everton, journalist John Percy has reported.
The 21-year-old underwent a medical at Derby’s pre-season tour base in Florida last night and will become the Rams second signing of the summer overall, following the arrival of Graeme Shinnie from Scottish side Aberdeen.
Dowell previously spent the 2017/18 campaign on loan in the Championship with Nottingham Forest and was also made a temporary move to Sheffield United for the second half of last season, helping Chris Wilder’s side win promotion to the Premier League in the process.
So would Dowell be a good signing for Derby? Here, we’ve put the spotlight on his performances for the Blades last season to find out.
In fairness to Dowell, he did only complete 90 minutes twice in his 16 Championship appearances for the Blades last season, so it is worth noting that that could potentially reduce his chance to make an impact, but these stats do not appear to make particularly encouraging reading for Dowell and Derby.
If Dowell is brought in, then you imagine it will be to replace the likes of Harry Wilson and Mason Mount in those midfield roles from which they were so influential last season, and worryingly, Dowell’s own influence just doesn’t seem to match up with that of his predecessors.
Whereas both Mount and Wilson both averaged more than two shots per game, Dowell averaged a comparatively underwhelming 0.7 attempts per game, indicating the reduced threat he may pose to opposition defences next season.
Similarly, Dowell struggled to match both Mount and Wilson when it comes to the supply he provided for his teammates, with his average of 15.8 passes per game falling some way short of the 37.5 and 28.8 averaged by Mount and Wilson respectively.
It could be worth noting however that Dowell’s reduced game time in comparison to the pair may have something of an impact on that here, while the fact that all three had a pass success rate of around 75%, which does reflect more in Dowell’s favour.
Another point that does seem to potentially shows signs for encouragement around Dowell is his ability to provide a couple of goals for the Blades despite his limited opportunities. While that is never going to set the world alight, it does suggest that Dowell could provide a handful of goals across the course of the season that help secure the points that make the difference between promotion and another season in the Championship.
All in all, it seems as though this could be something of a risky move for Derby, but with Dowell’s experience in the second tier growing, and the confidence from that promotion last season now under his belt, it could be one worth taking for Phillip Cocu and co.