Sheffield Wednesday’s new centre back? - Analysts recommend perfect Julian Börner/Joost van Aken replacements

Following the departure of Joost van Aken and expected exit of Julian Börner, Sheffield Wednesday are very much in the market for a left-sided centre back.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 5:00 am

The Star has previously reported that – even prior to talk of Börner leaving – Darren Moore was eager to bring in somebody who could play on the left side of his central defence, with the side currently having only a handful of centre backs remaining – none of which are particularly suited to the left.

If the German leaves, Wednesday will have Dominic Iorfa, Sam Hutchinson, Chey Dunkley and young Ciaran Brennan who play as centre halves, and it’s a position that Moore is certainly looking to bolster before the 2021/22 campaign gets underway.

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Before signing anybody, Wednesday need to work quickly to firstly get the ongoing wages debacle sorted out, and then if they want to bring players that require a fee – however small – then they need to get the reported transfer embargo lifted as well.

With both of those things both in the process of being sorted out, The Star spoke to Dan Altman, creator of smarterscout.com, an advanced analytics platform for football, who gave some insight as to options Wednesday could go for – one of which is potentially more doable than the others.

Altman said, "Darren Moore came to the club late in the season, and in 2021-22 we'd expect him to put more of his stamp on the squad and its style of play. At Doncaster his left-sided central defenders specialised in link-up play rather than hoofing the ball forward.

“Omar Beckles, whose contract is ending at Crewe Alexandra, has a lot of what Sheffield Wednesday might want: outstanding in the air and in the tackle, great ball retention, lots of short passing, and overall effective defending. Robert Atkinson, a young defender at Oxford United, has some of the same qualities – though he's not as strong in the air on dead balls – and can bring the ball forward himself. Atkinson would require a fee, however.

Omar Beckles could be an interesting option for Sheffield Wednesday.

“Moore might also want a reunion with Tom Anderson, who's coming into the last year of his contract at Doncaster. Anderson can obviously produce the style that Moore may want, but his performance metrics aren't as strong as those of the other two players."

With Beckles (29), Crewe confirmed last month that they had offered him a new deal to stay with them in League One, however could potentially be tempted by the opportunity to play for a club the size of Wednesday as Moore looks to gun for automatic promotion.

For Atkinson (22) and Anderson (27), however, things are more difficult due to the fact that their contracts run until 2023 and 2022 respectively, and that it’s thought that the Owls are going to be mainly working in the free agent and loan market this season as they look to balance the books on the back of a couple of tough years.

Omar Beckles' positioning in 2020/21. (Courtesy of Smarterscout)

As previously mentioned, it’ll be first things first for Wednesday, who need to get their house in order before making any new signings, and fans will be hoping for a bit of good news in the coming weeks after the transfer window opened up on June 9th.

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A look at Robert Atkinson's shooting from 2020/21. (Courtesy of Smarterscout)
A look at three potential options for Sheffield Wednesday. (Courtesy of Smarterscout)