Middlesbrough scouts attended both of Lyon’s games last week against Roma and Toulouse and were reportedly watching Rachid Ghezzal. Ghezzal has emerged as a summer target for Boro but could the winger really be the answer to Middlesbrough’s problems?
Rachid Ghezzal is a 24 year old Algerian international. Ghezzal has been playing for Lyon’s first team since 2012 when he moved up from the B team. Ghezzal has made 43 appearances for Lyon since 2012, scoring 11 goals in that time. While 43 appearances in 5 years may seem like a small amount, in the 2013-14 season he suffered a back injury. The injury put him out for six months, making him miss 32 of Lyon’s games.
Since the start of 2016, he has been a regular inclusion in the squad and in the 2016/17 season he has played 28 games, scoring two goals and getting seven assists in the process. The Algerian’s preferred position is right wing. But he is also able to play the central attacking midfield role and left wing.
Ghezzal vs Middlesbrough’s wingers
As Rachid’s preferred position is the right wing, it would seem smartest to compare him to Boro’s only out and out right winger Adama Traore. While Stuani, Downing and Ramirez could play there, they all have other preferred positions. Therefore we shall compare him with Traore who also favours the right wing role. So far this season Traore has played 20 Premier League games for Boro in which he has scored 0 and assisted 0. Compared to Ghezzal who has played 28 games, scoring two and assisting seven.
Rachid can also play CAM; a position Traore has never really played. This trait could be especially helpful to Boro when their best CAM Ramirez looks likely to leave in the summer. Furthermore, Ghezzal has Champions League and Europa League experience, featuring most recently in Lyon’s 4-2 victory over Roma. This is something Traore and every other Boro winger lacks. Therefore the Algerian seems like he would be a huge improvement to the Boro squad.
Would he join?
While Ghezzal seems like he would be a great addition to the Middlesbrough team, bringing both goals and assists, something Boro are lacking in, it is highly unlikely he would choose to join Boro. Middlesbrough are currently 19th in the Premier League and are staring relegation in the face. Therefore if Boro were to go down it’s safe to assume Ghezzal would not join. Furthermore, Ghezzal has also attracted attention from other Premier League teams such as Arsenal. This means even if Boro does stay up they could face completion from much higher quality Premier League teams.
Should Middlesbrough try to sign him
In my opinion, Middlesbrough should attempt to sign the winger. Middlesbrough failed to secure the signature of Jese, Snodgrass and Bojan in January. This shows they are desperate for a winger/CAM and Ghezzal would be perfect to fill that role. While the signing of the winger is largely dependent on if Middlesbrough stays up this season, if they do, Ghezzal would bring goals, assists and Champions League experience that Middlesbrough does not have and really need.
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