Opinion

The lowdown on: Izzy Brown

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Preston  North End finally confirmed a deal to bring Izzy Brown to the club yesterday and it’s the first new face in the building ahead of the upcoming 2021/22 season (as we are, of course, already familiar with Sepp Van Den Berg and Liam Lindsay).

The 24-year old will join the Lilywhites on a free transfer when his current Chelsea deal comes to an end on July 1. The deal itself will see the player join us on a one-year deal, with the option of a second if we’d like it.

So, what is Izzy Brown like and how well have we done in bringing him to Deepdale?

The Deal

Well first and foremost, the deal has to be applauded for its sensible nature. For starters, it’s a free transfer. The player has talent, as he’s showcased in this league previously (more on that later) and has trained with Chelsea since a young age and yet we’ve managed to secure a deal for him without spending  a penny on a transfer fee.

This is the kind of low risk but high reward signing we’ve done previously and it does sometimes pay off – take a look at Callum Robinson for example.

The deal itself also works in our favour. There’s always the chance it may not work out and Brown also has had some injury issues, so if the deal doesn’t turn out great for either party, then we’re only tied to him for a year. If he shines and excels though, we can agree to a second year and then possibly try and wrap up fresh terms for him if needed.

That’s a very positive move from North End then – and we have to give them credit for doing so well on this deal.

Izzy Brown – Versatile in his positioning

The player himself looks a solid addition, with a number of factors working in his favour.

Brown is versatile and can play in a number of the forward positions that we might deploy. He’s featured as a second striker, so could easily play off a forward like Ched Evans if we decided to go with that kind of tactic and can surge forward if needs be. He’s also played on both wings, meaning it gives us another option over the likes of Tom Barkhuizen and Brad Potts who could probably have done with some more rotation during the 2020/21 season. Brown can even play as an attacking midfielder – so if we stuck with our usual 4-2-3-1 formation, he could easily slot in over someone like Daniel Johnson (although that probably means things don’t look good for Josh Harrop’s future at the club).

How did he fare in the Championship previously?

The 24-year old is capable of producing at this level. A quick flash of his recent stats for Sheffield Wednesday (his most recent Championship spell) doesn’t make for the greatest reading considering he managed only one assist and no goals but he started just four games despite featuring in 19. In fact, he had only SIX 90 minutes during that Owls season – so when you think of it like that, his lack of production most definitely came down to a lack of action.

Have a gander at his figures for Luton Town the year previously though and that’s a lot better. With 17 starts (and 16.2 90 minutes throughout the campaign) his rate was actually very good. With seven assists and one goal, he had a rate of 0.49 goals or assists per 90 – so pretty much every other game.

Dig deeper and you’ll see even more of what he offers. For the Hatters, he managed at least 1.3 shots per game, so he regularly likes to challenge the goalkeeper (something which is useful, as North End have a tendency to get the ball near the opposition box but then not challenge that goalkeeper and instead pass it around). In addition, he also averaged over two shot creating actions per 90 minutes – so again, he works well at bringing others into play and helping his side push on.

A look at Brown’s Premier League experience

Brown also has the advantage of having played top-level Premier League football. He played once as a 15-year old for West Bromwich Albion and then once for Chelsea as a 17-year old but he played more frequently for Brighton in the 2017/18 campaign. Although not a first-team regular (he started only four and featured in 13 in total) he still showed flashes of brilliance.

As a CAM/SS, he didn’t manage a goal or assist but he offered plenty. Data from smarterscout for that season showed he was strong when his side lost the ball, as he was quick to get to the opposition and break up a potential attack before it took place and then win the ball back for his side, while using his link-up play and ability to bring other players into the game well – all this despite playing in the Premier League.

Summary

We aren’t claiming that Izzy Brown is going to walk in to Deepdale and turn us into title challengers and drag us there himself like a prime Cristiano Ronaldo. However, if you watch him play and look at the stats, it’s easy to see that this deal could represent good business for us. A free signing, who is a low risk for us due to the conditions in the deal is a good start. For him to also have top flight experience and to have also produced the goods before at this level is even better.

He could certainly prove to be a good forward option at this level and covers positions that we definitely needed backup in. Brown is also 24-years old – so there is room to get even better.

Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how he fares in a North End shirt but he looks a good start to business in terms of attacking signings for PNE this summer and we wish him all the best at the club with us.

All stats from FBREF and smarterscout

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