Jefferson Lerma is close to joining Crystal Palace as Dougie Freedman nears his first signing of the summer.
That is according to reliable journalist Fabrizio Romano – who has even given the transfer his trademark “here we go” as an official announcement is imminent.
What’s the story?
Well, Doucoure managed to win our Player of the Season award in his debut campaign following a £21m move from RC Lens in July 2022.
Impressively, the Mali international did so without a reliable partner, holding down the midfield for most of the 2022/23 campaign.
Now – however – Doucoure has the perfect partner in crime as Lerma makes his way to SE25.
How Jefferson Lerma compares to Cheick Doucoure
Firstly, let’s assess the pair’s defensive contributions, as they are expected to play in a midfield two ahead of the backline.
The Colombia international – according to FBref – averaged 0.83 tackles per game in the Premier League last season, with Doucoure averaging 1.49 at Crystal Palace.
Lerma also averaged 0.89 blocks per game whereas the Crystal Palace No.28 averaged 1.53 last term.
Doucoure is clearly a significantly more effective defensive presence, although that is not to say that Lerma’s numbers are poor.
Our 2022/23 Player of the Season was among the leading defensive midfielders in the Premier League last season, so most numbers will pale in comparison.
Where Lerma is stronger than Doucoure is when it comes to passing.
FBref shows that the South American – who coincidentally won Bournemouth’s 2022/23 Player of the Season – completed 1317 passes last term compared to Doucoure’s tally of 1038.
Crucially, Lerma excels at moving the ball forward.
The 28-year-old registered a combined total of 7229 yards worth of progressive passes last season, whereas Doucoure finds himself with 5352 yards.
That is particularly interesting, as Doucoure actually seemed quite keen to start attacks and get us on the front foot last season, so if Lerma is even braver in terms of moving the ball into dangerous areas, it could take us up a gear.
The Colombian also scored five Premier League goals – whereas Doucoure failed to net – so we should now have more of a goal threat coming from the middle of the park.
With these two marshalling the midfield, providing a platform for Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise to run riot in attack, Freedman may have completed a genuinely transformative signing by pinching Lerma on a free transfer.