Josh Maja has endured a very challenging 2021/22 campaign after making his mark on the Premier League in 2020/21 and could be on the move this summer as he enters the final year of his contract with Bordeaux.
The Blues are heading towards an important summer transfer window, with points deductions keeping them away from the relegation battle this season and putting Lee Bowyer’s future at the club in doubt.
Maja played just seven minutes of Ligue 1 action for Bordeaux in the first half of the season, and would have been relieved to join Stoke in January.
However, he has not been able to grab that opportunity and therefore it is a surprise to see the Blues interested in his services going into next season.
Maja scored once for Bordeaux in the Coupe De France before returning to England, but it was in a 10-0 win over Jumeaux de M’Zouazia, so not really opposition that he can be judged on.
In nine Championship starts at Stoke, Maja has scored once, averaging just 0.09 goals per 90 minutes (less than a goal every ten games) in the second tier, as per Wyscout, and only 0.18 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes, which considering he has played as a central striker, is very modest.
Maja is averaging just 1.29 shots per 90 minutes, which speaks for the lack of service he has been receiving at Stoke, but also suggests that he could be better involved in a deeper role.
His creative numbers are more encouraging, contributing two assists in the second tier and showing that he can be an effective link player between midfield and attack.
The Nigeria international is averaging 0.91 shot assists per 90 minutes, and his creativity is increasing for spending more time developing an understanding with his fellow attackers at Stoke, once again suggesting that there is more potential in his combination play than there is with him playing as a number nine, with a pass accuracy of 76.8% over the course of the season.
For Maja’s position, how ambitious he is on the ball, and the lack of time and space he typically has compared to other positions when receiving possession, that is a respectable number and furthermore points to why he could have a greater influence on games playing off of a central striker.
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Josh Maja has only really thrived in his career to date, in League One, so at 23, it would not be the smartest signing in the world for Birmingham City, with the expectation on his shoulders to keep them up next season.
The 23-year-old could be better advised going back to League One where he has performed well before and embarking on a different career path, possibly playing in a deeper role with more freedom, similar to the one that he did with Sunderland.
However, third tier clubs are very unlikely to be able to compete financially with Bordeaux, suggesting that Maja could stay there until the end of his contract and possibly head out on loan again in the summer.