Huddersfield Town fans are breaking down the early transfer business conducted at the John Smith’s Stadium this summer. Carlos Corberan has already welcomed four new faces ahead of July and the club are amongst the busiest clubs in the EFL so far.
Lee Nicholls is through the door to compete with Ryan Schofield and Jordan Rhodes has returned in a nostalgic move that the club hope pays off. Both are free transfers that will join on July 1st, alongside Matty Pearson and Ollie Turton.
The latter two bookend the business so far and are potentially the two signings to get most excited about. It isn’t that they are going to get bums on the edge of seats, but they are solid additions to the squad and could elevate the performance of players who can do just that.
One man that is going to undoubtedly benefit from Pearson and Turton arriving is Pipa, who impressed last season under Corberan after arriving in the summer as the Spaniard’s standout signing.
Pipa scored twice and registered four assists, proving to be one of Corberan’s most effective attacking options despite the fact the bulk of his football came at right-back.
As the below heat map from Wyscout shows, Pipa spent an equal amount of time either side of the halfway line; his job as a full-back as important in the final third as it is in-and-around his own penalty area.
An issue found, though, was the space Pipa would vacate. The attacking positions he took up elevated pressure on Corberan’s defensive players, including the right centre-back.
Richard Stearman and Richard Keogh’s lack of pace struggled to cover the large area often left to be exploited, whilst Rarmani Edmonds-Green’s inexperience sometimes left him isolated. Trawling back through the goals conceded in Corberan’s first season, it was an issue, which brings us on to Huddersfield’s new boys: Pearson and Turton.
Pearson arrives as a centre-back and with 40 appearances in the Championship under his belt last season for Luton Town. Upon arrival, Corberan underlined his ability to be versatile within a defence, playing centrally, on the right of a three or even as a right-back.
His instinct of covering the right channel that Pipa often vacates makes him a more natural option to cover the Spaniard, whether that’s in Corberan’s 4-3-3 or a wing-back system.
CC: “He gives us extra versatility in defence as he can play as a right centre-back in a three or just with the left centre-back in a back four. We look forward to working with him.”#htafc
— AGB (@BurnsAlfie) May 20, 2021
Turton offers similar versatility: a right-back that can play on the right of a three-man defence and also push up into the centre of midfield. Blackpool wanted to keep him on the back of promotion into the Championship and the 28-year-old should prove to be a solid addition for Town.
Again, he’s only going to help Pipa’s performance.
Yesterday, we touched on the fact that Corberan turning to a 3-5-2 system again next season could leave Pearson, Turton and Pipa operating in the right channel. Naturally, Pipa will provide the attacking width, with the other two tucking in-behind him to create a dynamic defensive base. It’s not as exciting as, say, Juninho Bacuna and Edmonds-Green, but it offers Huddersfield a better chance of addressing a woeful defensive record and leaves them less vulnerable.
Should Corberan ditch the 3-5-2 and revert back to a 4-3-3 the new signings offer a couple of options: Pipa at right-back and Pearson at centre-back, with Turton operating in midfield and covering, is the most natural. However, there’s also scope to push Pipa up onto the right wing, with Turton behind him at full-back.
Both are good options for Corberan to be considering already heading into 2021/22. A lack of depth within the squad last year and injuries denied him the opportunity to experiment like that. Early summer signings have bolstered the versatility of the group and created a base in which further transfers can be added to.
Huddersfield fans still crave the ‘marquee’ signings that will hopefully come this summer, but on the face of things a couple of their dealings so far have been very shrewd.
Nicholls should be solid competition and Rhodes will go one of two ways. The expectancy, though, lies with Pearson and Turton. They have the skillset to evolve the squad defensively and in an attacking sense, giving Pipa the platform to have an even bigger impact than he did in 2020/21.
That whets the appetite.