Sheffield United: One remarkable statistic reveals where Lys Mousset must improve

Helping Lys Mousset become more durable is the key to unlocking his potential, Slavisa Jokanovic has claimed, after discovering the centre-forward has yet to complete a full game for Sheffield United.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 4:45 pm

It is a measure of his belief in Mousset, who is expected to be fit to face Blackpool this weekend, that one of Jokanovic’s first tasks after taking charge was to commission a report into the Frenchman’s career at Bramall Lane.

The paper, produced by members of United’s analytical department, examined aspects of Mousset’s game including his positioning, strike-rate and also the type of chances he is best equipped to convert. But buried deep within the heat maps, graphs and pie charts the researchers used to illustrate their findings was a statistic which took Jokanovic by surprise. And it is one he believes suggests that focusing exclusively on the player’s lifestyle away from football will not deliver the desired results.

“Listen, I can be wrong but I checked some statistics and I believe he (Mousset) has never played 90 minutes for Sheffield United, ” Jokanovic told The Star. “We need to prepare him to be ready for three times a week. We need compromise on his side. But we must also show care towards him.”

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Jokanovic’s statement about Mousset’s CV with United is correct; the former AFC Bournemouth striker has not completed a full match for United since arriving in South Yorkshire two years ago. Thirty two of his 50 appearances have come from the bench and he has been substituted on all of his 18 starts - including the one he made against Barnsley last weekend, when calf muscle problem forced him to be withdrawn after scoring twice during United’s 3-2 win at Oakwell.

“Lys is working with the team and we expect he will be selected,” Jokanovic said, confirming the injury has now healed. “I change him in the last game because we had a situation. We cared about him. In another game, that might not be possible.”

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United climbed to 14th in the table following their victory over Markus Schopp’s side; a contest which saw them establish a 3-0 lead before the hosts came roaring back into the contest.

Sheffield United striker Lys Mousset scored twice against Barnsley and was also on target when Stoke City were beaten at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“What I mean is, if Barnsley had scored the two goals first then I wouldn’t have changed him,” Jokanovic added. “The border is often very small.”

Signed by Chris Wilder following United’s promotion to the Premier League, the previously unheralded Mousset became an emblem of a team which made an explosive start to life in the top-flight - scoring five times in 10 outings as it laid the foundations for a ninth placed finish. However he became an enigma, and a frustrating one at that, when United spiralled towards relegation a year later; featuring only 13 times and failing to find the back of the net as the fitness issues, which Jokanovic suspects are not necessarily a poor reflection on his professionalism, returned in abundance. After impressing in pre-season, Mousset was included in the first starting eleven Jokanovic picked as United manager only to limp off with a hamstring problem during their meeting with Birmingham City. Mousset has now claimed three goals in as many games since recovering.

“He’s in a good mood,” Jokanovic said. “If I need him to be available, I need him to be available.”

Slavisa Jokanovic was surprised to discover that Lys Mousset has never completed 90 minutes for Sheffield United since leaving AFC Bournemouth: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Lys Mousset is expected to play for Sheffield United against Blackpool this weekend at Bramall Lane: Chloe Hudson/Sportimage