Celtic target Niclas Eliasson: Maddening, but capable of brilliance

He frustrates Bristol City fans at times but he has the ability to thrill and excite, and his stats for the season bear it out

9:30am on Thursday 13th August 2020
Paul Macdonald

Bristol City winger Niclas Eliasson has been one of the most thrilling, if also one of the most frustrating, players to watch in the Championship this season.

On his day unplayable, the Swede is still searching for a level of consistency that can take him to the next level. But Bristol City's sizeable wage bill - thought to be more than £30m - means that they are willing to listen to reasonable offers.

And the player's representatives have made it clear that they are looking around, with Celtic and Fenerbahce heavily linked in the last week. But what kind of player is he?

Niclas Eliasson, 2019/20

Eliasson has only featured for 1989 minutes in the Championship this season (18 starts and 19 substitute appearances) suggesting that the player never had the complete faith of now-departed manager Lee Johnson, particularly from a defensive perspective.

But when on song, his creative numbers match up with anyone in the division. He has a hugely impressive 12 assists in such a limited amount of minutes, meaning his 0.54 assists P90 is the best in the league (minimum 1,000 minutes).

His 17 Big Chances created is ranked second, while his 10.9 crosses P90 is the most in the league in any position. You can see the pattern building up of an enigmatic wide man who looks to beat his man and swing into the area at every opportunity.

You can also see why a team like Burnley have been linked with him, with their more conventional, traditional approach set up for wingers who can knock it and swing in dangerous balls. Dwight McNeil is already very good at it, and Eliasson could be equally effective.

He has played as an inverted winger (left-footed player on the right) for the majority of his minutes and either goes for the line to cross in on his right, or cuts back to in-swing his crosses. His delivery can be hit and miss but when he does land it in the danger area, the pace and direction is exceptional.

Eliasson 19/20

Assists P900.54#1
Big Chances Created17#2
Crosses P9010.9#1

His assists follow a consistent pattern; virtually all of them are crosses to be headed home. Quite simply, if you are a team capable of scoring regularly from set-pieces, or with a particularly dynamic forward who likes to position himself between the sticks, Eliasson will find them.

The 24-year-old has three goals but he is not a prolific shooter, averaging just 0.8 shots P90 and 2.4 touches in the box. He's not the modern winger who enters the box as an additional forward when the ball is on the other flank.

How much will he cost?

Given Bristol City's situation, he is likely to be available for a fee in the region of £5-6m. He has expressed his desire to feature for Sweden's national side after appearing consistently at youth level, and he will look for a move to a top division that can increase his exposure.

Which is why Celtic are an interesting option. James Forrest is their preferred option on the right but there's not much alternative to him unless Neil Lennon switches his formation to 3-5-2. Eliasson's ability to be penetrative from both flanks makes him an interesting utility man, particularly in Europe.

A doubt would be around Odsonne Edouard; a fantastic, multi-functional forward he is, but heading ability perhaps isn't one of his strengths. That's not to say he wouldn't become one with Eliasson's ability to land the ball in dangerous areas, but it perhaps isn't the most natural fit.

It seems that Eliasson's skills will be utilised somewhere outside Bristol next season, and if the right club comes in, they could find themselves with an extremely useful asset - if used correctly.

Niclas Eliasson - Profile, Statistics, Matches

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