The signing of Josip Drmic should increase competition on Norwich City star striker Teemu Pukki in 2019/20.
However, whether the Swiss international can displace last season’s Championship Golden Boot winner remains to be seen.
He arrives at Carrow Road from Borussia Mönchengladbach looking to resurrect his career after a couple of serious injuries in recent years.
Meanwhile, Pukki comes into the Premier League on the back of a breakout season, in which he scored 29 goals and became a firm fan favourite at Carrow Road.
Drmic is capable of playing the same function as the Finnish forward in Daniel Farke’s Norwich team, having fulfilled a poacher’s role at his previous clubs.
But both Drmic and Pukki have the ability to play at central attacking midfield, while the former has also been used as an inside forward on the left.
In order to predict the impact he will have on the Norwich attack, we have analysed his history and compared him the current options at Carrow Road.
The History and Statistics
Drmic became one of Europe’s notable strikers after a breakout season for Nuremberg in 2013.
Joining the Bundesliga side from FC Zurich, he scored an impressive 17 goals in 33 matches.
That didn’t stop his new club being relegated to 2. Bundesliga but it was a tally that turned heads in Germany.
In the 2013/14 season, only Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic and Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski scored more league goals (both 18).
That earned Drmic a move to Bayer Leverkusen to keep him in Germany’s top flight amid glowing praise from his new club’s then managing director.
“Josip Drmic has proved his class last year in the Bundesliga – he is one of the outstanding goalscorers in the Bundesliga.” – Michael Schade, 2013
However, the 2014/15 campaign was already the beginning of a downward spiral for the Swiss international, who to this date, still has not got close to the heights of his first season in German football.
In fact, he has not registered more than 1,000 minutes in a league campaign since then either.
In his 12-month stay at Leverkusen, Drmic only started five league matches, featuring as a substitute 20 times and amassing just 794 minutes.
He still managed to find six goals and one assist for Leverkusen but had no such luck in the Europa League, failing to register one attacking return in three starts and four substitute appearances.
A move away from Leverkusen was inevitable and it was local rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach who took Drmic on.
But things still didn’t improve for the striker at Borussia-Park as he scored one goal in five starts and nine substitute appearances for his new club.
The January of the 2015/16 season saw Drmic loaned out to Hamburger but after just six appearances he was ruled out nine months with knee cartilage damage.
That ensured he missed Euro 2016 duty with Switzerland and played just 171 minutes in 2016/17 for Mönchengladbach.
Unfortunately, in April 2017, Drmic picked up another knee injury, which ruled him out until a return to first-team action in November.
Coming back from that setback meant that across the 2017/18 and 2018/19 campaigns, he strung together just six league starts and 12 substitute appearances.
In those two seasons, he still managed six goals despite limited game-time so there is probably still some remnants of his breakout 2013/14 campaign in there somewhere.
Whether he can rediscover it at Norwich is another question.
| ||Mins per shot||Mins per shot in the box||Mins per shot on target||Mins per key pass|
As you can see from the table above, in either of the last two seasons, Drmic certainly doesn’t outshine either Pukki or left-winger Onel Hernandez – the two players he is most likely to compete with for a place in Norwich’s 4-2-3-1.
Obviously, there are one or two mitigating factors to this comparison.
Firstly, the sample sizes for Drmic are small, a total of just 682 minutes across both of those campaigns, while Pukki and Hernandez both played over 3,100 in 2018/19.
However, that in and of itself is still something to bear in mind, with the Swiss international suffering so much with injuries in recent years.
Secondly is the difficulty between the two divisions, Bundesliga arguably a higher standard than the Championship.
For that reason, it is interesting to note that in both 2017/18 and 2018/19 Drmic’s minutes per shot is not too far off Pukki’s figure from the season just gone.
He is also close for minutes per shot, but Pukki is streaks ahead for accuracy it would seem.
Also, comparing Drmic with Hernandez, it is clear that he could provide more goal threat than him but Norwich might lose creativity on that side of the pitch were he to replace him there.
Judging on Drmic’s immediate past, it does seem unlikely that he will immediately displace Pukki up front for Norwich any time soon.
The Finnish striker comes into the Premier League off the back of an incredible year in the Championship and stands a decent chance of carrying that form into 2019/20.
If Drmic is trying to resurrect his career, Farke surely knows that throwing him ahead of someone such as Pukki probably isn’t the way to do it.
At the very least, Drmic’s arrival adds some healthy competition for Pukki, which could even push him to higher levels this season.
When we spoke to Norwich Evening News reporter Paddy Davitt back in May he described adding depth to the forward as “an essential piece of business”.
We must say that one thing Drmic offers that Pukki can’t is high-level experience of international football.
He has now turned out for Switzerland at two World Cups and was in the squad that made it to the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals.
Although, it is worth saying that Drmic was the one who cost the Swiss third-place at that tournament as he missed the crucial penalty in the shootout against England.
Given Norwich’s well-documented problems with spot-kicks last season, Drmic may not necessarily help them out.
However, his arrival doesn’t necessarily have to put him in direct competition with Pukki.
If Farke was keen to use him, he could be deployed down the left-flank of the 4-2-3-1 as an inside forward.
Hernandez played here for the most part in 2018/19. Even though he contributed eight goals and nine assists, there were murmurings that the German often struggled with putting his chances away.
Our comparison above certainly shows that Drmic is capable of bettering Hernandez in this department, even if it might result in reduced creativity there.
Farke could also pair Drmic with Pukki if he wanted to deploy two strikers, although we learned from the Norwich Evening News that he showed a rigid commitment to 4-2-3-1 on the way to winning the Championship.
Either way, even if Drmic does play from the outset, there is little about his underlying statistics from the last two campaigns to excite us more than Pukki or Hernandez.
Thankfully, Norwich’s tricky fixtures give Fantasy managers time to assess what impact Drmic will have on their attack.
The Canaries currently sit second-bottom for attacking potential on our Season Ticker during the first six Gameweeks of 2019/20.
They face trips to Liverpool, West Ham and Burnley as well as hosting Newcastle, Chelsea and Manchester City during that period.
For that reason, it already seemed sensible not to touch Pukki and his attacking colleagues during the early stages of the season.
Drmic’s arrival simply encourages that approach as we wait to see if he either helps push Pukki onto new levels or comes into the side to trigger a change of formation.
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