Written by Charlie Ellis and Rhys Desmond
An encouraging season for Palace fans ended in a 12th place finish, with more work to be done in Patrick Vieira’s progression with the team from the days of Roy Hodgson. When the season began, Palace had a host of new faces bringing much in the way of fan fare, from Michael Olise to Odsonne Edouard. Both had their moments in the limelight and achieved acclaim for their performances. But one man who went quietly under the radar in his second season with the Eagles was Jean-Philippe Mateta, who became an important starter for the team toward the second half of the campaign.Embed from Getty Images
Mateta may have only netted 5 goals in the Premier League (0.39 per 90) in 2021-22, but played an important role in Patrick Vieira’s pressing structures and defensive intensity. Providing more defensive gusto and steel than Christian Benteke, Mateta smartly adapted into the role over time, and found himself an important member as the season came to a close. In truth, his five goals over the course of the season fails to tell the full story. In 2021-22, the former Mainz man topped Palace’s charts for xG (0.43), xG + xA (0.54), and only trailed penalty-taking Wilfred Zaha on actual goals per 90 (0.46). This is in spite of commanding a lower fee than Odsonne Edouard, the man evidently brought in to share the brunt of the scoring responsibilities.
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A capable and mobile runner, with versatility to operate in different roles along the front line, Jean-Philippe Mateta could offer a few other sides a useful option, and could be set to have an even greater impact at Crystal Palace next season should he stay put. The 24-year-old striker provides the necessary physicality to hold his own against some of the league’s toughest defenders, and possesses more than decent enough dribbling power and ball control, especially for someone with an imposing 6’3 frame. Realistically, Mateta should continue under the influence of Patrick Vieira – a man who has developed trust in him to develop his game. Nevertheless, as customary for this series, we offer up three possible destinations that could suit Mateta’s style of play, where he could make an excellent impact in 2022-23.
SEVILLAEmbed from Getty Images
Despite a promising fourth place finish in 2021-22, Sevilla may be in the market for another striker this summer. Top scorer Rafa Mir finished on just 10 goals for the campaign, with Youssef En-Nesyri offering up 5. Luuk de Jong is set to return on loan, but has only scored 10 league goals for the team in his 69 appearances. Jean-Philippe Mateta meanwhile excellently fits Julen Lopetegui’s style as a strapping centre-forward, but one with enough mobility and pressing intensity to lead the line on his own. Mateta excellently times his shots, with 48% of his shots landing on target last season, and could easily thrive off the electric pace and trickery of Lucas Ocampos, similarly to his role in bouncing off Zaha under Vieira’s influence. At just €8 million according to Transfermarkt, Mateta would be an absolute coup for a club like Sevilla, and provide another centre-forward option that would not have to start week in and week out.
BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACHEmbed from Getty Images
2021-22 will not be one to remember for Monchengladbach fans, but optimism exists around the club with Daniel Farke now entering the scene. The versatile Jonas Hofmann ended as the team’s top scorer last season, with Marcus Thuram netting just 3 goals in a disappointing campaign. Breel Embolo and Alassane Plea put up decent numbers in front of goal, but both work best playing off of another centre-forward. Mateta could be the perfect player to operate up front, thriving off of Embolo’s speed and skill, Hofmann’s creativity, and Plea’s exceptional awareness of space and eye for a pass. Again €8 million would be the perfect way for Gladbach to expand their attacking horizons and guarantee more goals, without breaking the bank. Fitting Farke’s style of play wonderfully well, Mateta would also hold his own within the defensive responsibilities required of him, something that would likely incur him favour over other players once more.
WEST HAM UNITEDEmbed from Getty Images
West Ham United have been in desperate need of a Michail Antonio back-up for years, ever since David Moyes first switched the wide enforcer into a target centre-forward. Jean-Philippe Mateta could offer up the physicality required to fulfill West Ham’s style, whilst offering Antonio’s pressing intensity and finishing in front of goal. Mateta outperformed Antonio on xG, non-penalty xG, and even goals per 90 in 2021-22, which would serve him well as he learns from Antonio’s robust style of play, and provides a useful option to change any match from the bench. With European football in their sights and West Ham being another London club, Mateta may be particularly allured by the idea of joining the Hammers.
CONCLUSIONEmbed from Getty Images
Jean-Philippe Mateta is unlikely to move this summer, but he could provide a useful back-up, or even an upgrade to many top level teams fighting for Champions League football next season. The likes of Sevilla, Gladbach and West Ham could easily utilize an upgrade at centre-forward, and Mateta would provide a cheap option that would do the hard work and excellently fit their style of play. For now, Mateta remains at Crystal Palace, and could be set for a bigger season in 2022-23.
So there it is! Why Jean-Philippe Mateta remains an undervalued talent in the modern game. Be sure to check out more from this series below, and follow @mastermindsite on social media. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
-> Undervalued Premier League Talents: Leandro Trossard
-> Undervalued Premier League Talents: James Tarkowski
-> Undervalued Premier League Talents: Teemu Pukki
-> Undervalued Premier League Talents: Christian Eriksen
-> Undervalued Premier League Talents: Pascal Groß
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