Sheffield United: Taking a deep look into the statistics of Oli McBurnie’s potential successor

According to transfer insider Darren Witcoop, Cardiff City and Sheffield United have both declared interest in 31-year-old out of favour Bournemouth striker Kieffer Moore.

Moore’s football journey last season was a rollercoaster of emotions and opportunities. The Welsh international, who managed to make only eight substitute appearances for Bournemouth in the Premier League, scoring once, found himself loaned out to Ipswich Town in January. This move proved to be transformative for both the player and the club.

At Ipswich, Moore quickly became a central figure in Kieran McKenna’s squad. Demonstrating his prowess as a goal scorer, Moore made 18 appearances, starting 14 of those games, and netted seven crucial goals. His contributions were instrumental in Ipswich Town’s successful campaign, culminating in automatic promotion to the Premier League.

His impressive performance at Portman Road has not gone unnoticed, particularly by Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and Des Taylor, the acting transfer advisor for the potential new owners of the Blades.

With only 12 months remaining on his contract with Bournemouth and no inclination from either party to extend the deal, Moore’s future seems poised for another chapter. Sheffield United, looking to bolster their attacking options, have identified Moore as a prime target. Wilder, who has been actively pursuing new signings, reportedly held discussions with at least five potential recruits over the past 72 hours, with Moore high on the list, according to James Shields.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – MARCH 30: Oli McBurnie of Sheffield United celebrates after scoring a goal that was later disallowed during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Fulham FC at Bramall Lane on March 30, 2024 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Is Kieffer Moore Oli McBurnie’s replacement or his back-up?

Back in September of last year I wrote a piece on why the Blades should have signed Kieffer Moore to be the back-up of Oli McBurnie. My theory that United needed a big physical presence at the top of the pitch to provide an outlet was soon realised in the absence of McBurnie.

Fast forward several months later and it could well be that the Welsh international is here to replace the current free agent McBurnie. As of now the Blades are still in negotiations with the Scottish striker over a new deal, but this move for Moore will only increase speculation regarding McBurnie’s future at the club.

Bournemouth’s Welsh striker Kieffer Moore controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on May 20, 2023. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) 

What can Moore bring to Sheffield United?

Just looking solely at the 31-year-old’s Championship statistics from last season, you can tell what Moore is about even if you have never seen him play before. He’s in the team to cause havoc in the opposition box if you play to his strengths.

Per FBref, Moore ranked in the 91st percentile for non penalty goals versus Championship forwards, 96th for total shots, 79th for shots on target, and 75th for goals per shot. Interestingly, he ranked 46th in non penalty expected goals per shot, which essentially means he was shooting in situations where you wouldn’t really expect to score from.

When comparing this with Oli McBurnie’s 2022/23 Championship campaign you can see that the two are quite similar. McBurnie ranked in the 93rd percentile for non penalty goals (versus Moore’s 91st), 97th for total shots (versus Moore’s 96th), 85th for shots on target (versus Moore’s 79th),  and 68th for goals per shot (versus Moore’s 75th). In contrast to Moore, he was faced with slightly better shooting opportunities as he ranked in the 63rd percentile for non penalty expected goals per shot.

Looking at some other statistics you can tell that Moore loves a more direct style of play. Last season he ranked in the 83rd percentile for touches in attacking third, 99th percentile for touches in opposition penalty area, 76th for progressive passes received, and 99th percentile for percentage of aerial dules won.

In Sheffield United’s promotion-winning campaign under Paul Heckingbottom, McBurnie ranked in the 86th percentile for touches in attacking third, 97th for touches in the opposition box, 65th for progressive passes received, and 88th percentile for percentage of aerial duels won.

In terms of creativity, neither striker are the type of player to carve out masses of chances for teammates, but they do both provide the ability for other players to use them as a rebound board because of their physicality.

Moore ranked in the 73rd percentile for goal-creating actions and 74th for shot-creating actions. His expected assists numbers saw him rank in the 27th percentile, and his key passes numbers saw him rank in the 66th percentile.

McBurnie, in his previous Championship campaign, ranked in the 42nd percentile for goal-creating actions and 60th for shot-creating actions. These numbers suggest Moore is much more usable in the chance creation phase of play than McBurnie. However, McBurnie had a higher expected assists ranking (76th percentile), but, he did rank in the 40th percentile in key passes.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – AUGUST 05: Kieffer Moore of Bournemouth gives instructions during the pre-season friendly match between AFC Bournemouth v Lorient at Vitality Stadium on August 05, 2023 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

My view

If, for whatever reason, Sheffield Unite cannot agree a new deal with Oli McBurnie then the next closest thing to him at this level is without a doubt Kieffer Moore. Given that Bournemouth do not want to retain Moore and him only having 12 months left on his deal with the Cherries they are probably willing to let him go for quite cheap.

As we look at the situation at the minute, the only question is: would Moore prefer to go back to his old club Cardiff City? That is a possibility of course, but realistically the more ambitious move would be to join a team like Sheffield United. He would likely be the main striker for Cardiff City whereas he could be a rotational and sub option for Sheffield United, especially if Oli McBurnie does indeed pen a new contract.

Tags Analysis Kieffer Moore Oli McBurnie

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