Chuba Akpom wanted by Paul Heckingbottom

Chuba Akpom has been linked with a move to Sheffield United following reports suggesting last season’s Championship top scorer wants out of Middlesbrough.

Alan Nixon has claimed the Blades could sign the 27-year-old for around £8m. It is understood Paul Heckingbottom is a big fan of the forward and wants to bring him to Bramall Lane. United are lacking in depth in attacking areas but the addition of Akpom would partially solve that.

After Iliman Ndiaye left United for a fee that will rise to £20m, there is a huge void to fill; the Senegal international registered 25 goals and assists in the Championship last season. Meanwhile, Akpom contributed to 30 goals.

Chuba Akpom to replace Iliman Ndiaye?

Although Akpom ended the campaign as the top scorer, he actually achieved this feat by playing in the number 10 role for Middlesbrough. Like Akpom, dropping deep into the number 10 position is a tendency of Ndiaye.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – MARCH 19: Iliman Ndiaye of Sheffield United in action during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final match between Sheffield United and Blackburn Rovers at Bramall Lane on March 19, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Playing in this role allows Akpom to use his positional awareness, finding pockets of space and catching defenders unawares. One tendency, and a benefit of this role is that it allows the Englishman to use his athleticism, as well as timing, to make runs beyond the defensive line. Often he will beat the offside trap because of this.

From the eye test, most would point to Akpom being a finisher and Ndiaye being a creator. Statistics do back that up, the Middlesbrough man had a non penalty xG of 0.5 per 90 last season and an xA of 0.06. Ndiaye had a non penalty xG of 0.32 and an xA of 0.17 per 90 [all stats from FBref].

Akpom is quite comparable to Ndiaye in other metrics however. The 27-year-old registered 2.84 progressive passes per 90 last term, whereas Ndiaye logged 2.39. But, Ndiaye narrowly edges out Akpom in progressive passes received. The Senegal international saw 6.91 progressive passes received, compared to Akpom 5.38.

Many supporters would guess that Ndiaye outperforms Akpom in ball-carrying aspects, but that is far from the case.

Akpom registered more progressive carries than Ndiaye did last season – 2.45, versus 2.29. Additionally, he totalled more carries into the final third – 1.83 ,versus 1.44. And Akpom’s progressive carries were also much further than Ndiaye’s on average.

However, Ndiaye registered more take on attempts (4.97) than Akpom (2.75). And, Ndiaye edged out Akpom in successful take-ons.

Lastly, statistics would suggest that Chuba Akpom is a better recipient, and a shielder of the ball, having much less miscontrols and dispossessions. Ndiaye was actually one of the poorest forwards in the Championship in these metrics.


Although one is a finisher and the other is more of a creator, they actually share a lot of the same elements. Selling Ndiaye for a maximum of £20m and bringing in a slightly older Akpom for £8m would be great value. Especially considering the Boro player was the Championship’s top goalscorer last season.

The only issue with this transfer is that Akpom is currently injured and missed pre-season. Do Sheffield United want to add an injured forward to an area where they are already light?







Tags Analysis Chuba Akpom Iliman Ndiaye Sheffield United