Wigan Athletic have secured their second signing of the summer in the shape of 24 year old Nathan Broadhead from Everton on a season long loan. The forward arrives off the back of a really productive loan spell at Sunderland last season and helped the League 1 stalwarts finally secure promotion back to the Championship.
The Black Cats were rumoured to have been back in for the Welshman but the promise of regular game time and the geographical convenience have swayed his decision in Latics favour. Having made his debut for Everton in 2021 he’s struggled to mount enough of a claim for first team football but after reviving his career last season at the Stadium of Light everyone at Latics will be hoping he can kick on further.
What does he bring to the side?
Nathan Broadhead is a dynamic forward player who adds quality depth in both the Left Wing and Centre Forward positions. He has the pace and agility to play out wide and the fact he’s very comfortable with both feet makes him a real asset when taking on a defender. When playing out wide he tends to cut inside and shoot, something he does on either wing with either foot, but is also capable of taking the outside and delivering crosses into the box.
I’d say he’s a similar kind of player to Callum Lang when playing as an Inside Forward. Both are high volume shooters but as the comparison shows Broadhead is considerably better at finding the target with his efforts on goal.
Another impressive thing about Latics’ new recruit is his goal conversion of 31.25%. In short this means that he scores almost once every 3 shots he takes, and for someone that took an average of 2.13 shots per 90 last season it’s clear that we’ve got a real finisher on our hands.
He’s also more creative than his 0 assists last season suggest. An xAssists of 0.12 per 90 is very handy whilst 0.28 key passes and 1.82 passes into the final third 90 are decent for someone that clearly looks for the shot rather than the pass.
When playing as a striker his favourite thing to do is sit on the shoulder of the deepest defender before bursting into space, something that none of our current strikers really do. When playing alongside Ross Stewart last season his role was to feed off the space created by the Scottish target man and pounce on any loose balls or knockdowns.
This shot map shows the areas that Broadhead takes his shots from and as you can see the majority of them are within 18 yards of the goal. All but 2 of his goals came inside the box but Latics fans should also like the fact he’s not afraid to have a go from range. He has the ability to make something out of nothing which for a team that will need to be clinical in front of goal can only be a good thing.
If we get the ball to him within shooting range the chances are he’ll have a go. Even more importantly than that the chances are he’ll hit the target which is maybe a criticism you could level at our current attacking players, they have the tendency to snatch at chances, drag shots wide or pass up shooting opportunities altogether.
Lang, Humphrys, Keane and Magennis all averaged less than a 45% SOT percentage last season so bringing in a deadly finisher like Broadhead should make us a much more dangerous prospect next season. At times this season we may be limited to just 2 or 3 chances a game, as we saw against Norwich, and you’d like to think the 24 year old Welshman is the kind of player to take one of those.
To cut a long story short we’ve signed an ice cold finisher that is also more than capable of linking play for those around him. There are concerns around his fitness and he’s suffered with hamstrings injuries for much of his career but if we keep him fit and play to his strengths I believe we have a minimum 15 goal forward on our hands.
Where might he play?
Latics’ new recruits heatmap from the 2021/22 season tells you everything you need to know about him. He’s a player that is comfortable playing across the front line and therefore a huge asset to our side given the lack of depth we have, particularly out wide.
My initial thoughts are that he’ll feature in wide areas, probably cutting inside from the left wing. The green marking on the map highlights the fact that he enjoys driving inside from the left wing, a nice alternative to James McClean who’s a more traditional Left Winger.
Should Latics play a 5 at the back system I’d imagine he’ll play as the second striker alongside a target man, similar to the role he performed so well in alongside Ross Stewart last season. I can’t see him coming straight into the starting 11 but you won’t find many more effective ‘super subs’ in the league and that’s something I’m really excited by.
Using him as an impact player should also increase the likelihood of him staying fit for longer. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to take this into account but its something that Latics fans ought to note, particularly if he doesn’t feature much early on. I’m unsure what kind of pre season he’s had at Everton but I doubt he’s 100% match fit and we can’t rush these things.
First things first I think this is an excellent signing for Latics and should fill our supporters with a lot of confidence in our club both on and of the pitch. Questions have been raised over the lack of recruitment this window but I’d much rather us sign 3 or 4 top quality players than fill the squad with bodies that aren’t necessarily needed.
Nathan Broadhead is a top quality player and someone we really did need. Attacking firepower is vital for teams looking to secure themselves in the division and the 24 year old brings this in abundance. His arrival should also ease the pressure on Keane and Lang who’s goals were heavily relied upon last season. He proved last season that if you keep him fit he’ll get you goals.
That will be Latics’ biggest challenge though – ensuring we get enough game time out of him to let him contribute. He arrives with the ‘injury prone’ tag but then again so did Jack Watmough and he was basically an ever present last season so we shouldn’t be completely concerned by that.
I’m looking forward to seeing how he does for us this season and am quietly confident that he could be a hell of a signing. Hats off to the recruitment team as on paper this signing looks ace. Lets hope this Everton loanee works out as well as those that have gone before him, I’m thinking Antonee Robinson and Kieran Dowell type well…