Why clubs should try to sign Jordon Ibe? – scout report
Years ago, Jordon Ibe was a prospect at Liverpool, even the Reds’ former striker John Aldridge once believed the youngster could surpass Manchester City player Raheem Sterling. In 2016, Bournemouth signed Ibe with a record-breaking fee of £15m. However, the 2019/20 campaign has been a terrible season for the player, as he could not fit into Eddie Howe’s team, and never started in any Premier League game.
After the disciplinary issue during the lockdown, Ibe was very likely to walk away from Bournemouth on 1 July. As a free player, we believe the winger could be a low-risk bargain given clubs might struggles financially because of COVID-19.
This tactical analysis will analyze Ibe from a tactical perspective in the form of a recruitment scout report, covering his strengths and weaknesses, and how could he fit in different tactics. The analysis also suggests how could the player improve himself based on his performance in the 2018/19 campaign.
Although aged 24, Ibe was experienced to play in the Premier League, involving in 119 of them in his career. He could play in almost every offensive position at the midfield, but his most preferred position was still at the right-wing position. The above heat map summarized Ibe’s positions in his career, the player tended to operate at the wide areas instead of the middle.
In the last season, Ibe has played in various formations under Howe, such as a 4-1-4-1, 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or even a 3-4-1-2. However, he still performs his best when playing on the right flank.
The analysis will begin to analyze the player with the use of data. The following radar profile gives us a brief idea on the playing style of Ibe. Two domains stood out: dribbling per 90 and ball losses index. This hinted the player has an offensive mindset and would take bold actions, we will dive into game examples later. The winger averages in several domains, including crosses per 90, key passes per 90 and pass completion rate. And, it was clear that Ibe could improve his threat, as his goals per 90, shots per 90 and assists per 90 were below par.
To measure the offensive and defensive performance of the player, we chose two metrics from each domain. By looking at the dribbles per 90 and progressive runs per 90 of the players, we will understand Ibe’s impact on the team’s attack. The defensive metrics: defensive duels per 90 and PAdj interceptions gives us a brief idea on his work of ethics in off-the-ball situations.
The below scatter diagram summarized over 60 players who played 450 minutes or more on the right flank. Ibe was quite impressive in terms of dribbles per 90, as his 8.35 dribbles per 90 ranked third in the chart.
We should also consider whether these dribbles were moving the ball forward or not, which could be suggested by the progressive run metrics. Ibe provided 3.26 progressive runs per game, which was second among the right-wingers in the league, even higher than Riyad Mahrez. These stats hinted Ibe could be a useful player in terms of progression, we will dive into this trait later.
However, the defensive performance of Ibe was the opposite. In this scatter diagram below, we included the same number of players by the same filter. Ibe was one of the worst, as indicated, he stuck to the bottom left. His 3.16 defensive duels per 90 and 0.92 PAdj interceptions were lower than most of his counterparts. These were good hints as we will also explain the factors contributing to these stats.
Although Bournemouth tried to play out from the back, the attacking players tended to stay higher to generate spaces for defenders. Ibe was not an exception when starting, hence, we should focus his performance on the flanks.
Dribbling is a strength of Ibe. The former Liverpool winger possesses pace, he likes to mingle this physical superiority with his dribbling and take on the full-backs in the wide areas. The below graph summarized the dribbles of Ibe. We should note that a very high proportion of the event occurred on the right flank, even deep into zone 18. You should also notice some dribbles took place in the centre, which commonly occurred in the offensive transitions which we will explain later.
Apart from dribbling on the right flank, Ibe was also showing good awareness to cooperate with the right-back. When the right-back supported by an overlapping run, Ibe was pleased to release the runner when occupying the left-back initially. The below situation was an example, which Nathaniel Clyne has received the ball from Ibe and crossed.
Teams looking to reinforce their attacks on flank could consider Ibe, as the 24-year-old would be suitable to adapt in tactics that aimed to create wide overloads, utilizing the offensive full-backs. The dribbling of Ibe could keep the left-back with him and create the defender a decisional crisis.
If the supporting right-back was not found, Ibe would take the chance to drive to the byline and cross. Although Ibe produced 2.14 crosses from the right per game (slightly above the average), he could work on the accuracy as the completion rate was 19.05% only. Most of the crosses were above ground but they were not met by a target.
In the offensive transitions, Bournemouth and Ibe had more spaces to attack the exposed defence, which he enjoyed the most as his strengths could be fully utilized. As mentioned, the winger possessed pace which supported him to sprint in a short distance. Therefore, Ibe could break the defensive line and escape from the marker by carrying the ball forward.
In the Newcastle United draw, Mohamed Diamé suffered as he was outpaced by Ibe, including in the following scenario. Defensively, Ibe tended to position himself narrowly to maintain horizontal compactness of lines. Therefore, it was no surprise to see Ibe taking the ball in the centre during possession turnover.
Ibe was doing quite fine in terms of space recognition and exploitation by carrying the ball. In this image, he beat Diamé with his pace and progressed the counter-attack into a higher area.
This strength of Ibe was useful in the counter-attacks as his dribbling absorbed pressure, potentially creating spaces for his teammates. Below is another scenario which Ibe dribbled past Diamé again, and, Bournemouth enjoyed a 4 v 3 situation, having three players to stretch the defence. All of these began from the run of Ibe.
However, a flaw of Ibe in the transitions was his decision-making. The English winger sometimes picked suboptimal options to pass because of the delaying the play. This case was not an exception. We will explain more about this issue in the last section.
After investigating his offensive potentials in different phases of the attack, we should point out that Ibe would be a reinforcement for teams that tried to improve their counter-attacks. Also, teams who want to improve their means in offensive transitions might also want Ibe’s services as the English winger demonstrated different methods to progress in this phase.
Apart from carrying the ball forward, Ibe liked to break the counter-press by passing the ball away. He would only try dribbling past the opponents in 1 v 1 or 1 v 2 situations. This ability to escape pressure helped his team to generate counter-attacking opportunities, we will explain this by showing a game example.
In this image, Ibe had opponents approaching him, as he dribbled inward and absorbed pressure (which was a bit suboptimal, we will explain later). Considering the positionings of both options, obviously picking Ryan Fraser (No.24) who was free on the flank was better than passing riskily into the block. Despite carrying the ball forward and under pressure, Ibe managed to find Fraser with a lofted ball.
However, Ibe still has to improve his consistency when delivering these passes. It was uneasy to break the counter-press as the pass had to be played in tight spaces and under pressure, sometimes Ibe would give away the ball which he should avoid in the future.
Defensively, as suggested by the stats, we did not have many points to praise his defensive efforts. Again, we have to stress that Ibe only had very few defensive events. The below graph summarized his defensive events in Bournemouth’s 3rd, the winger only had one successful defensive duel on the right, while there were no interception and sliding tackle. This would be a concern as it reflected the right-back was unlikely to cover by Ibe, the team could be fragile in the wide areas.
So, why did Ibe only provide limited defensive duels and PAdj interceptions? Jogging while defending and laziness was not the most accurate answer. Instead, Ibe did press and he liked to press from a return pass. What contributed to the stats was his defensive habit.
When pressing, Ibe very seldomly sprinted to challenge or approach the target in full-speed. Usually, he slowed down when almost reaching the ball-carrier, which you could tell from his body gesture in the below image. Forcing himself into duels when pressing was not the style of Ibe, therefore, he had very limited defensive events.
Consider these habits of the player, he is unlikely to fit into a pressing team such as Leeds United. He should perform better in a team which defends in a midblock or a low block, which allowed Ibe to preserve his energy for the offensive transitions. However, the winger could still work on his approaching angle when pressing, as coaches often expect the ball to be guided to either flank or into a pressing trap when setting the defence. Also, Ibe has to cooperate with his teammates better, as he seldom checked his cover when he decided to step out and press the ball, which potentially became the loophole of the defence.
Weaknesses and future development
In the last section of our analysis, we would explain how could Ibe improves himself and develops into a better player with his strengths. The first we suggested was to work on his dribbling. He has the pace, but the footsteps were a bit unnatural, so he needs better body coordination and body balance.
As a right-footed player on the right, it was very natural to shift the ball to the right when dribbling diagonally. However, such a change of direction must be used with the right timing: since there were limitations of Ibe’s physical qualities, the winger could not change the direction of the ball continuously. In other words, he only has one chance to beat the defender, or else the ball would stick under his feet.
In the following example, Ibe was shifting the ball to his right but João Moutinho was still far from him. The Portuguese midfielder would hardly lose his balance and Ibe could not escape from him. Consequently, the ball was guided to the wide areas and was trapped by Wolves.
Improving the footsteps frequency and quickness would help Ibe to take the initiatives in these 1 v 1 situations. By driving towards the defender with an unpredictable moment to shift the ball at pace, passing lanes may open and Ibe could have more options to find his teammates.
With regard to the offensive transition section, which we suggested Ibe had a flaw: taking excessive touches. The winger possessed the ability to beat defenders, but sometimes it was not unnecessary to make things complicated. On occasions, Ibe missed the best timing to pass because of his strong dribbling mindset.
This scenario happened before Ibe dribbled inward. As you could see, an extremely wide passing lane was opened to Fraser. However, because Ibe naturally takes the touches before scanning his options, this perfect timing could develop an effective transition. As shown in the previous section, this was still developed into a counter-attacking opportunity, but it could be polished.
When playing in the build-up phase, there is room for Ibe to improve as well. The former Liverpool player was not good at making himself available as a passing option. As you could see in this example, he wanted the ball but he ran behind the opposition and could not be found by his teammates.
Because of this limitation, Ibe did not perform well when playing as an attacking midfielder. In this position, he provided limited support to his teammate and could not connect plays, which hindered the team’s attacking fluidity and effectiveness.
To conclude, Ibe possesses the traits to play well in offensive transitions. Teams defending deep and playing on the counter-attack would be a good fit for the player.
As we have mentioned in the introduction, given the uncertain financial situation and transfer budget of the teams in the coming transfer window, they could consider signing Ibe if the player accepted a pay-cut. Given Ibe has some obvious weaknesses in the current stages, apart from bottom-half Premier League teams, the player should consider playing in the EFL Championship or in the Scottish Premiership (rumours reporting Celtic were looking to get Ibe).
This scout report was purely writing from a tactical perspective and other aspects such as mental were excluded, we are looking forward to seeing where Ibe will be going this summer.