Scouting: Teji Savanier
Montpellier's starring man propelling them up the table.
Certainly not a spring chicken, Teji Savanier is aged 28 and is currently operating deep in the Montpellier engine room. Having switched Nimes for the southern France side in the summer of 2019 for around £8.5m, per Transfermarkt, he has gone from strength to strength. With some truly outrageous statistics for someone opperating in the relative unknown, lets see what makes the frenchman so undervalued.
Currently in his prime, Savanier had fired Montpellier to 8th in Ligue 1 prior to the coronavirus outbreak putting a hold on footballing activity. A slight downgrade on the 2018/19 seasons finish in 6th, no doubt the club will be aiming slightly higher in the table, hopefully to challenge on those european competition spots. Not entirely a mainstay as it were, Savanier had started 17 league games and featured in another as a substitute, placing him at 10th in the Montpellier squad for minutes. 6 goals and 2 assists in the 1,532 Ligue 1 minutes played means Savanier is contributing to a goal every 191 minutes. From deep midfield. 8 goal contributions is more than Lille's Jonathon Bamba, who operates further up the pitch yet only has 1 goal and 4 assists and in 400 more league minutes, may it be noted. Savanier's 8 goal contributions is the same as PSG new man Idrissa Gueye and Marco Verrati put together. Truly insane.
A pass completion of 79% from an average 45.3 league passes a game is not too bad but when you include 5 long balls per 90, you can see his desire to drive the team up the pitch. Thats 0.3 lower than Liverpool's Virgil Van Dijk and Juventus' Leonardo Bonnuci, who both sit at 5.3 per league match. For a player playing mid-table Ligue 1 football, this is truly ostentatious. During all of this, Teji weighs in with 1.5 key passes (quantified by a pass that leads to a goalscoring opportunity) per league match, joint 2nd with striker Andy Delort. Need you be reminded, Savanier is a defensive midfielder.
His 5.5 defensive actions per Ligue 1 match consists of 2.7 tackles, 1.8 interceptions and 1 clearance. That is equal to that of N'golo Kante in the Premier League and all in similar minutes played too. So he definitely doesn't shirk his defensive responsilities either.
A move to a lower level Premier League side wouldn't be the worst move for Savanier, and still only valued at £8.5m, per Transfermarkt, money has definitely been worse spent. Were Southampton to lose captain Pierre Emile Hojbjerg to Tottenham, The Saints could pick up the frenchman on the cheap and trust him to sit at the base of their midfield and allow star boy James Ward-Prowse to dictate play further up the pitch. I would consider this a smart acquisition and it may just be what Southampton need to try and push themselves away from those relegation spots.
Watford could well be in the market for someone with Savanier's qualities in the summer of 2020 if compatriot Abdoulaye Doucoure is to leave. Savanier could actually be an upgrade on the former Rennes man, putting up more tackles, more interceptions, more dribbles per 90 and more key passes per game, whilst having played nearly 900 minutes less! This could well be an interesting move and for such a small fee, The Hornets could go and spend the money on a much-needed striker to replace Andre Gray and give captain Troy Deeney some competition up front.
A move up the Ligue 1 table to Lille could be an outside shout, were they to sell starlet Boubakary Soumare for a handsome price. Dictating play from deep for very exciting nigerian import Victor Osimhen would be great to see and could allow Lille to challenge PSG and Marseille at the summit of Ligue 1 (although I doubt it!).
With still a couple of years of quality football left in him, whether Savanier swaps southern France for a chance in a bigger league, we'll have to wait and see.