Senegal stopper Papy Djilobodji has today emerged as the object of a two-way transfer tussle involving fierce north east foes Newcastle and Sunderland.
The Nantes centre-half is thought to be the first-choice defensive target for both this summer, with the Daily Star reporting his valuation to be £5m.
With 43 goals conceded so far – the fourth lowest total in the Premier League – it’s clear the Tynesiders are in the greatest need to strengthen their rearguards this summer and it’s their ownership of Djilobodji’s countryman Papiss Cisse which, also according to the Star, gives them the advantage in this battle…although the reckoning behind their conclusion is unclear.
It’s 11/2 the Magpies go to Everton and win without conceding next, a price that rewards to the tune of £165 profit if punters stake their £30 free bet for signing up at bwin.com in the outcome.
If one of the pair can win the battle for Djilobodji’s services, they’ll be snaring an imposing defender with several of the uncompromising traits nostalgic football fans bemoan the absence of in modern centre-backs.
At six foot four, the 26-year-old has picked up eight yellow cards in 22 Ligue 1 starts this term, a figure only versatile midfielder Jack Colback has surpassed in the current Newcastle ranks.
His stature has enabled him to win an average of 3.4 aerial duels per outing this term, while his mean clearance per match figures stand at a lofty 8.9.
At 6.7, the Toon’s top clearance-maker Paul Dummett is some way behind the Senegalese star in this respect.
However, Djilobodji’s ‘no nonsense’ approach to defending facilitates a poor pass completion rate of 73.3% from a low average of 34.4 passes per game.
Typically, 4.9 of these are considered long balls by the stats boffins at whoscored.com and this aversion to keeping the orb on the deck is perhaps what deterred Arsenal, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund from following up their interest in him last season.
These figures are again higher than any fellow outfielder on the Newcastle payroll at present.
A predilection to risk possession with long passes may be overlooked in favour of stellar defensive contributions though and Djilobodji’s 2.9 interceptions per match average is yet another metric in which he outdoes every member of John Carver’s squad.
These attack-repellent qualities mean the Nantes man is certainly worth the money at £5m.