Player Analysis: Jean-Clair Todibo
To fully understand Todibo’s defending style, we’d have to examine his relationship with Dante as part of a defensive duo. What exactly makes them tick, and how do they compliment each other? To illustrate such relationship from a statistical standpoint, we examine their defensive actions adjusted to 100 Opposition Touches to highlight the habits both centre-backs adopt and understand how they benefit from each other.
Amongst central defenders with more than 900 minutes played, Todibo has accumulated 1.5 Aggressive Defensive Actions (Tackles, Interceptions and Successful Pressures) and 2.41 Passive Defensive Actions (Blocks, Clearances and Recoveries); His partner in crime has amassed 1.05 Aggressive Defensive Actions and 2.39 Passive Defensive Actions.
Now, what this means is that Todibo has been the far more proactive central defender of the pair, constantly stepping out of line to impede oppositions. Essentially tasked to stop any attacks or transitions from developing at the earliest of opportunities. He does so with the insurance of the experienced Dante sweeping behind him, covering the spaces vacated by Todibo and only intervening play whenever necessary. At times, the space vacated by Todibo may also be filled by a midfielder, as he steps off his line to confront opposition forwards.
With Todibo stepping off his line, Dante will stay behind observing play.
Midfielders will fill the vacant spot for Todibo as well.
Todibo’s proactiveness in defending has been a trait utilized in his side’s blueprint to regain possession. Despite running the risk of leaving space behind, Galtier recognizes the aggression in Todibo must be unleased rather than tamed.
As such, Todibo regularly leaves his line to disrupt opposition’s attack. The Frenchman looks to impose himself onto the forwards, making every movement awkward; suffocating them as they try to maneuverer the ball.
As we look into his pressing numbers this season, we find that his tendency to disrupt play does reflect in his numbers. The tall Frenchman has completed 1.8 Pressures per 100 Opposition touches, with a fair 0.75 of them resulting in his team winning the ball back. This ranks him amongst the leagues’ best centre-backs in terms of pressing.that Todibo has been the far more proactive central defender of the pair, constantly stepping out of line to impede oppositions. Essentially tasked to stop any attacks or transitions from developing at the earliest of opportunities.
As we probe deeper into his aggression, it is worth examining his true tackles’ statistics, adjusted to opposition touches. True Tackles is a metric that considers the lost challenges and fouls when making a tackle. Important to note that this metric favors defenders in a back three for the added protection they’d have as they stride upfield to regain possession.
A vocal and versatile leader on the pitch, Jean-Clair Todibo surely has the best of his years ahead of him. He would be a fantastic option at United should he join and can become a long term Varane replacement.
Todibo is an outstanding player and at only 23 years old, he still has a few years of development left. One of Todibo’s biggest strengths is his ability on the ball. He is an extremely progressive player who plays an important role in the first phase of build-up. In Ligue 1 so far this season, the former Barcelona defender has averaged 4.65 progressive passes per 90, as well as 4.01 passes into the final third per 90. Todibo is also press-resistant and is comfortable stepping out of defence to carry the ball up the pitch.
In addition to his fantastic ability on the ball, he is a fantastic tackler and has averaged 2.48 tackles per 90 in Ligue 1 this season. He is also a good 1v1 defender and is comfortable defending in wide areas. In Ligue 1 this season, the Frenchman has also averaged 3.61 clearances per 90 and 1.34 blocks per 90 which is relatively decent.
Standing at 6’’2, it may come as a surprise that Todibo isn’t particularly strong in the air. In Ligue 1 this season, he’s only won around 55% of his aerial duels which isn’t extremely impressive for someone of his height. In comparison, Manchester United’s Raphael Varane has won 75% of his aerial duels in the Premier League this season which is significantly better than Todibo. Lisandro Martinez is a fantastic footballer who’s superb defensively and is also crucial to United’s build-up play as he’s one of Ten Hag’s best technical players. However, the one area where Martinez falls short though is aerially so whoever plays next to him in the centre of defence needs to be dominant in the air. While Todibo isn’t amazing in the air at the moment, he is 6’’2 and it’s certainly an aspect of his game that can be improved with coaching.
He also needs to work on his discipline. The OGC Nice defender has picked up 2 red cards in Ligue 1 this season as well as one in the Conference League – 3 red cards in one season is simply too many. However, Todibo is still young and will mature with more experience.
Where would he fit in at Manchester United?
Should Manchester United complete a deal to sign Jean-Clair Todibo, he’d be Raphael Varane’s successor. Varane’s contract at Manchester United expires in June 2025 so should United sign Todibo this summer, the Frenchmen would likely rotate with each other for the coming two seasons, as Varane’s game time needs to be carefully managed due to his injury problems.
Todibo would be able to learn a lot from his fellow countryman Raphael Varane and if the former Barcelona defender fulfils his potential, he could become a mainstay in United’s defence for many years to come, next to World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez.
While Todibo does need to improve aerially, both him and Martinez are very progressive on the ball and the pair would massively help United’s build-up play in deeper positions.
Jean-Clair Todibo is an extremely talented defender and he’d be an astute signing. While there are a few weaknesses to his game, they are certainly things he will be able to improve on with coaching and experience. His reported price tag is around €45 million and at only 23 years old, he’d be a very good value-for-money signing. Should the Red Devils secure his signature this summer, he could become a prominent figure in Manchester United’s defence for the next decade.