Saturday, October 31, 2020

Niclas Eliasson set for Ligue 1 move

Bristol City midfielder Niclas Eliasson is on the verge of completing a move to Ligue 1 side, Nîmes Olympique. The Swede who was linked to Burnley in January, and most recently Celtic and Aston Villa, will undergo a medical in the South of France today.

Eliasson fell out of favour at Bristol City when Lee Johnson was dismissed midway through the season restart, and hasn’t featured much under Dean Holden in the current campaign. The new City boss prefers a 3-5-2 system with wing backs, something that Niclas doesn’t fit into.

So far in the 2020/21 season, Eliasson has featured in just 2 games for the BS3 side both of which were in the Carabao Cup. He got his assist total up and running in a 4-0 victory over Northampton, and was directly involved in another.

A cross aimed at the far post connected with Antoine Semenyo, who’s lay-up header set up Chris Martin to open the scoring. Later in the game, a chance on the break saw another beautiful cross fall to the feet of Kasey Palmer, who slotted in the Robins’ fourth.

Niclas Eliasson’s 2019/20 season

It wasn’t his form this season that’s seen him linked with top clubs though, it’s what happened last year. The 24-year-old racked up 12 assists in only 18 starts, averaging an assist every 165 minutes. That’s an impressive feat when compared with the tallies from his nearest competitors Jed Wallace and Matheus Periera who had almost double the minutes of Niclas Eliasson.

The Swede created 17 chances last year, which is one fewer than Periera who started 20 games more than him. One crazy stat I’ve come across is that Niclas Eliasson would have created 28 chances had he played the 3376 minutes the Brazilian played in. Here’s another for you, those 28 chances can only be bettered by Kevin De Bruyne, Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller, and Angel Di Maria throughout last season, it really does make you wonder why he didn’t feature much.

Niclas Eliasson (left) in a battle for the ball with Frédéric Guilbert (right) of Aston Villa.

Now obviously there’s more to football than stats, Nico isn’t the strongest, as I mentioned in a piece at the start of the year, which creates a physical mismatch in the Championship. Andreas Weimann and Marley Watkins were often deployed to compete with the likes of Milwall.

I am surprised he’s on the move to a mid-table Ligue 1 side though. I mean no-offence to Nimes, but they wouldn’t exactly compete at the top of the Championship let alone the Premier League. It’s a sideways move in my opinion, especially with City sat at the top of the 2nd tier at the moment.

That being said, he’s not featured in the league this season and has less than 12 months remaining on his deal so the likelihood of him leaving the BS3 side for free was probably quite high. The reported £2 million fee is much less than the £15 million that Burnley were willing to pay in January.

For Niclas Eliasson himself, this move will probably be the one to get him in the Sweden squad, which is much deserved on recent form. Sweden tend to only select players in the Top 5 leagues for their national team so this would be a great start.

Who is Niclas Eliasson?

The former Sweden Under-21 international arrived from IFK Norrkoping in August 2017, and didn’t feature much during his first campaign. However, he played a key part in the success of Lee Johnson’s side between 2018 and 19. That wonder of a left foot has had City fans amazed for a while, but Eliasson wasn’t very useful when regrouping and trying to win back the ball.

Hopefuly Nimes will use him in a more advanced role, if so Niclas Eliasson may tear up Ligue 1. Eliasson is a classic touchline hogging winger, and delivers a beautiful whipped ball across goal, which often connected with Famara Diedhou’s head. Operating on both the left and the right-hand side of midfield, he will offer a wide threat for Nimes who tend to play in a 4-3-3 set up.

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