Leeds extensively pursued the services of Cody Gakpo in the summer, along with Marseille’s Bamba Dieng, but ended up getting Willy Gnonto on deadline day. Now, however, Hoffenheim’s Georginio Rutter is the next forward in their sights.
The 20-year-old France U21 international has scored twice and assisted twice in 15 appearances this season in the Bundesliga.
Options up front have been thin with Patrick Bamford yet to return to first-team action from his injury and Gnonto the only out-and-out striker. Rutter’s addition therefore brings valuable depth with high potential.
But what will he bring to the Premier League and what kind of a player is he?
Rutter has upside with future potential
It’s important to remember that this is only Rutter’s second full season in senior football after joining Hoffenheim from Rennes in 2020.
Last season, Rutter racked up 33 appearances including 13 starts in the Bundesliga. In that time, his immense potential came to light. The Frenchman scored eight goals and assisted two more in the league, firmly establishing himself as a starter then at Hoffenheim.
Georginio Rutter’s Bundesliga 2021/22 stats
This season, however, the goals haven’t been easy to come by for him, having found the back of the net just twice all season.
His underlying numbers in terms of xG have taken a slight hit this season, averaging just 0.26 xG per 95 minutes, in contrast to a much healthier 0.37 xG per 95 last season.
Shot volume has remained largely the same, averaging 2.38 shots per 95 this season, but it hasn’t been enough to find the back of the net as often.
While the regression in his goal return is slightly disconcerting, it mustn’t take away from what is clearly a player with immense potential to be a top-class attacker.
Rutter combines his exceptional technique with good movement on and off the ball to generate chances. Where he receives the ball will determine how he hurts opposition defences.
At Hoffenheim, he has played as part of an attacking trio alongside former Leicester forward Andrej Kramaric and Austrian attacking midfielder Christoph Baumgartner.
Far from a complete striker, Rutter is someone who has enough pace to be able to adjust to the demands of the Premier League. He will often drop deep to receive the ball to feet and link with others around him.
Standing at 6ft tall, Rutter also already possesses some decent back-to-goal ability, but it isn’t one of his primary strengths.
In the box, Rutter’s first touch is assured and he does well to control crosses or cutbacks to turn them into dangerous shots.
His age and first-team exposure so far means that a lot of his skill set as a striker is still quite raw and needs coaching to improve.
Rutter does, however, have a lot more to his game than goals.
Ball progression and 1v1 ability
Rutter’s ability to progress the ball further up the pitch is a vital part of his game. When presented with space to run into in transitions, Rutter’s combination of pace and ball-control can be a useful weapon.
In terms of his 1v1 dribbling ability, Rutter is second to none in the Bundesliga, attempting 5.74 dribbles per 95, which places him in the top 1% of all forwards for that metric across the top five European leagues this season.
According to The Analyst, Rutter has completed 14 chance-creating ball carries this season, which is just eight short of his total of 22 for last season.
He completes 2.50 dribbles per 95 minutes, which is incredibly high among forwards. For context, Kylian Mbappe completes 2.60 dribbles per 95.
So, even though his goal return hasn’t been as good, Rutter is still doing a lot of things right for his team.
When deployed out wide, Rutter is able to use his pace and trickery on the ball to get to the byline to produce valuable cutbacks into threatening areas in the box.
His 0.14 xA per 95 as per Infogol this season is certainly evidence enough to suggest that Rutter is able to link well with his teammates closer to the opponent’s goal.
Whilst Rutter does prefer to use his right foot, he is just as good with his left and a dribbling wide forward with such a skillset is always going to pose problems for defences.
Our football team enjoyed a winning 2022
Will Rutter be a good fit for Leeds?
Given the premium fee that Leeds are paying up front, no doubt Rutter will need to impress the Elland Road faithful straight away.
The French U21 international’s abilities as a forward in a two provide an exciting potential future for Leeds involving Gnonto and Rutter.
With options being limited as they are, Rutter’s versatility will be a welcome addition to the squad and lighten the goalscoring burden on Spaniard Rodrigo who is the club’s top scorer with ten goals in the Premier League this season.
Before anything else, it is also worth keeping in mind that Leeds are paying a premium fee for a player who has world-class potential, so patience will be necessary to allow him to grow and continue.