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Sékou Mara V Armando Broja The Comparisons Are Striking
Friday, 22nd Jul 2022 10:17

The imminent arrival of Sékou Mara at St Mary's has a feeling of deja vou to last August when Armando Broja arrived at the club, so here we look at both players and whether our new signing can match the Chelsea loanee.

Although this is a permanent deal said to be in the region of £9 million plus add ons and the arrival of Broja last summer was a loan deal, both players are/were at a similar stage in their careers when they joined Saints.

Both were only 19 but on the verge of turning 20 within weeks, both are out and out centre forwards, Mara standing at 6ft with Broja 6ft 2 inches and both had just had their first full season of regular football, Mara at his parent club Bordeaux and Broja out on loan at Vitesse Arnhem.

So how do they compare in that first season.

Mara played 26 games in Ligue 1 in France, although only 8 of those games had been in the starting line up and the other 18 were off the bench..

He had scored 6 goals in 893 minutes of football, a goal every 148 minutes.

Armando Broja played 30 times in the Eridivisie in Holland, 21 of those were in the starting line up and 9 off the bench.

He scored 10 goals in 1,874 minutes on the pitch, a goal every 187 minutes.

So although Broja's stats initially look to be better, the reality is that he took more minutes on the pitch for each goal, to compare that with his season at St Mary's, he played 1,980 minutes and scored 6 times in the Premier League, that makes 330 minutes per goal.

So it terms of goalscoring it could be said that Mara has the edge here, not only has he a better goals per minute ratio, but he did it in a side that were relegated where Broja did it in a side that finished fourth.

In terms of type of goal Mara's 6 goals were varied, 3 were right footed shots, 1 was a left footed shot and 1 was a penalty.

Broja's 10 goals were 8 right footed shots and 2 from his left foot with none from his head, in his season with Saints all of his 6 Premier League goals were with his right foot, as were his 3 goals in cup competitions.

So in this comparison Mara comes out on top again in terms of his overall threat, he offer an aerial threat that Broja despite his height advantage doesn't.

So if we compare their styles of play what do we find.

scoutingfootball,co,uk has this to say about Mara

Mara was a potential versatile goalscorer, he looks to be an aerial threat, get’s into good box positions, and is confident with shooting from range.

Has great flair and skill variety.
Good strength on the ball when under pressure from a defender.


Loses possession after initial successful dribble e.g. heavy touch, loose control, poor decision making, over dribbling, lack of bigger picture.

His shot selection is very questionable, he takes ambitious shots from long-range including a few from the halfway line – needs to establish a traditional goal-scoring method rather than have a shoot-on-sight mentality.

Potential Ability

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Does he have world-class potential? Not right now. Next season with a bigger role and more responsibility I think is when we see the bigger picture and more clarity on his trajectory.


Broja has a no nonsense playing style that relies on running at defenders, but he lacks versatility, most of his goals came from his right foot, he offered little aerial threat at either Vitesse or Saints, his lack of goals in second half of the season at St Mary's could partially be put down to Saints lack of form, but also to the fact that opponents got a little wise to him.

Has good strength on the ball and can be unplayable.

Too often loses possession or is boxed off, lacks the ability to make runs off the ball and create space for others, doesn't offer an aerial threat or much with his left foot.

Potential Ability

Rating: 3 out of 5.

At times Broja looked brilliant for Southampton, but at other times looked lost, he is still learning and undoubtably can make a career in the Premier League where their is a niche for a big bustling centre forward, but at the moment is not in the class of others in the same mode, Richarlison or Antonio for example.

Needs to bring more variety to his game.

Does he have World Class potential ? Not so far, he will score goals, but he doesn't have enough in his locker to be truly World Class.

So in conclusion there are a lot of similarities between both players in terms of the season they had before joining Saints, they are both out and out centre forwards, but their playing styles are different.

From a Saints coaching perspective they will feel that Sékou Mara brings more to the team than Armando Broja did, the aerial threat especially was something we lacked up front, some supporters gave a lot of stick to our wingers, Nathan Redmond and Theo Walcott in particular but truth is Broja was never suited to getting on the end of crosses, his game was about the ball on his feet and running at defenders, therefore our wide men were struggling to find a target to hit.

Broja will suit a team like Everton or West Ham where they look to play the ball quickly to the central striker, but at St Mary's we play more out to the wing when going forward and this didn't suit Broja.

So it is hard to say who is the best player, Broja is a year ahead of Mara in his development and career, whereas the Frenchman is an unknown quality.

Yes he offers variety but you could say that about Djenepo.

Signing Sékou Mara is going to be a gamble, on paper he offers more, but can he produce in the Premier League, when the signing is complete, we have three strikers if Adam Armstrong stays and he along with Che Adams will provide balance.

If the former Blackburn man goes out on loan, then we need to bring in another striker, we cannot go just with two given the inexperience of Mara.

Photo: Action Images

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darthvader added 10:27 - Jul 22
I still think we need another striker or perhaps play redmond upfront when needed.
I like the look of this lad let's hope he's as good as we hope

DorsetIan added 10:38 - Jul 22
Djenepo doesn't offer variety, he is consistently poor.

And if Mara is anywhere near as good as Broja, I am going to be pleased but very very surprised.

Broja: "Has good strength on the ball and can be unplayable." - you can say that again.

SaintPaulVW added 10:47 - Jul 22
Shots from the half way line!

I hope he doesn't turn into a other one goal of the season wonder. After all we've seen a few.

Other than that looks a like for like replacement with Broja for stats and career to date.

Agree with those saying still need a bit of proven experience. However have had to eat my words so far with what Sports Republic have achieved in one transfer window. Masses of top class potential being brought in.

stmichael added 10:52 - Jul 22
The only stat that is relevant is that one cost 9 million and the other is
Going to cost +30 million.There is no comparison.
Broja is better now and has more potential.
We have down graded again because despite having new owners we are still shopping in corner shops.
This is the proverbial clutching at straws Nick..

stmichael added 10:53 - Jul 22
The only stat that is relevant is that one cost 9 million and the other is
Going to cost +30 million.There is no comparison.
Broja is better now and has more potential.
We have down graded again because despite having new owners we are still shopping in corner shops.
This is the proverbial clutching at straws Nick..

lemmsy added 11:36 - Jul 22
In my humble opinion broja got worked , when he burst on the scene he was very difficult to handle but top players & the premier league generally soon suss strength’s & weaknesses. Most of his goals were very similar & when he was forced wide his choice of shoot or pass was poor . No doubt he’s got the attributes to develop but £30 million is too much for me, after all having him last season will
have show all pros & cons on the training ground

GRIM added 11:47 - Jul 22
After watching the video of Mara there is no comparison between him & Broja apart from them both being centre forwards.
Broja looked good initially but he is a one trick pony who the opposition very soon sussed him out, hence his lack of goals late in the season. Broja is a battering ram of a striker whereas Mara looks technically more skillfull & offers more variety to his game.
BUT, its far too early to judge him, assuming he's played a few games let's judge him at end of season.
But at least it's another striker & he won't have to be great to be better than what we have.
Would still like to see another proven goalscorer signed up.
Another BUT is it doesn't matter how goals we score if we continue to concede goals at the alarming rate as the last couple of seasons we won't be winning many games.

SaintNick added 11:50 - Jul 22
Mike I have just compared the stats, if Saints paid £30 million for a striker that scored 6 Premier League goals last season you would be the first one on here slagging off the club.

Mike it is perhaps time you found a club that doesnt shop at corner shops as you put it, we are never going to be in the bracket of paying £30 million for players, in fact only around half of this seasons Premier League have paid over £30 million for a player and if we up that figure to £35 million that drops to only the so called Big Six plus Newcastle & West Ham.

The success of Southampton FC over the past 60 years has been based on finding players at low prices and under the radar not paying high prices.

There is no use whinging about the situation it is what it is, if you want to support a club that spends over £35 million on a player there are 7 to choose from


DellBoyWally added 12:14 - Jul 22
Both Newcastle and Everton wanted Mara but, typically, were waiting on Bordeaux going broke so they could maybe get him for nothing. OK, so morality doesn't go far in football but at least we hold the moral high ground in this case. Just hope the player turns out to be a good'n and worth the risk.
As several have mentioned, a reliable, proven scorer - 12-14 goals - would be nice to play alongside Mara. But hey, Le Tiss and Shearer weren't exactly seasoned pros when the set out alongside each other!!!!

highfield49 added 12:55 - Jul 22
Why any club would pay £30m for Broja is beyond my comprehension, he is so far from a top class player at present and shows signs of not being a particularly good learner as well. There has been much discussion about bringing in an experienced central defender to mentor our new defensive signings and it makes sense to sign a similarly knowledgeable forward to develop our misfiring front line. As has been suggested by yourself and others Nick getting Ings on loan would be an interesting move. Any other candidates out there anyone would suggest?

schatfield added 13:46 - Jul 22
I for one wouldnt want Broja back, certainly not for 30M. As you mentioned, better suited to other clubs style of play over ours.

A side note on the recruitment strategy, I love what the owners are doing and makes for an exciting start to next season with bringing in talented but untested kids. Let's be honest, this could go one way or another - we may do a 2015 Leicester for all we know! No one can say we are being cheap though, approx 40M already spent so far with none going out!? As I have said on another post this is clearly the way Saints work now and if you don't like it, don't bother moaning cos life is too short, just go and support another club!

Toussaint added 14:01 - Jul 22
The other two that left Bordeaux ain`t doing too badly, one`s gone to Madrid the other one is just about to join Chelsea . let`s hope it`s 3rd time lucky

zonehead added 14:14 - Jul 22
The thing with this method of moneyball, its hard to support the team as the players are all transient and will go after a season or two if they are successful apart from JWP and Romeu

JoeEgg added 14:28 - Jul 22
Okay we have some new talent - I seem to remember reflecting early last season on a imilar situation when it looked for a short while that there was a very promising squad being assembled.
What matters now is just how these talented youngsters are handled - the tactics and the team selections. This is the area where we failed most last season and you need to have a very short memory if you have forgotten already those dreadful two months at theend of last season. I have not altered my stand - the players could be very exciting and successful for us - it is the manager and the coaching staff that still have most to prove!

Block8 added 17:08 - Jul 22
It's funny how Broja was the dogs b******s when he was going to stay and is pretty crap now! He was decent when we played to his strengths and poor when we didn't and I sincerely believe that his head dropped when things went wrong, he is young.
We have Armstrong who is apparently the second fastest player in the PL after Walker (MC) but do we use his pace? No as we are so risk-averse we go sideways or backwards rather than risk a through ball. So all I'm saying is this las may or may not be a very good prospect but as a team we must help him prove either!

underweststand added 07:00 - Jul 23
Many on here are still giving mixed messages. Broja took his chances well and brought an air of the "old time bully boy" type CF who could barge his way into the box, and put away chances. Skill (in Prem. footballing terms) didn't rate highly on Broja's CV, but after the dross we've had in the last 5 years ( Ings was an exception)... Armando was a breath of fresh air that was too soon deflated. (Bring on the oxygen tank).
It went pear-shaped after New Year when everyone had sussed him out, and his role as lone striker was a disaster at a time when no other striker was scoring either.
I'd enjoy seeing him back ON LOAN, but my £30 million would be better spent elsewhere.

We really shouldn't compare these two players, especially as Mara has never set foot on an English football pitch, let alone played on a Prem. ground. Such early judgements can make or break promising careers, and many have fallen by the wayside in the past.

wrathoftazz added 10:23 - Jul 23
I would argue Broja and the majority of the team went to crap because of Ralph. Non of them knew what they were doing, they were all over the place with formations and there was obvious tension off the pitch.

That's not going to get any better. I reckon McCarthy will still be in goal, 5 subs in the last 10mins and half a season for Ralph to work out what he's got.

Ralph's time is up.... he isn't developing youngsters... he isn't winning and he is and has made Southampton look like a Sunday league team.

I dont care if he wins a couple of games, his time is done

deanosfc8 added 14:08 - Jul 23
Joe Egg- I get your comment regarding the coaching staff, yes! I agree they do have something to prove but Ralph in my view has absolutely nothing to prove.
How this man has kept us in this league is unbelievable, remember he took over from Mark Hughes when we at that time were in the bottom three. Our owner then until recently had zero input into the club, hence the loans etc.. We now have a structure in place that we can move forward, give him a chance, get behind the club and support them, not all this negativity rubbish I keep reading. Like Nick says there are other clubs out there for all you doom and gloom activist to support.

Boris1977 added 20:45 - Jul 23
I really don't understand why criticism of the managers/teams/boards performance results in advice to follow another club. We've all supported saints since we were kids and this club has punched below its weight for several seasons and is certainly under performing for a number of reasons.

I love this club as do all contributors do and that's why we voice our frustration at some of the embarrassing records that the club has amassed over the past 3 seasons. It comes from passion, love and concern about our club.

I don't give a toss about other clubs only this one.

Flamingbankers added 10:51 - Jul 24
Statistics are a slippery customer and can be used to represent almost any viewpoint. I think Nick's tried hard, for some reason, to equate Mara with Broja to placate the fans for the club. Most supporters' point is that Mara isn't experienced, tried and tested - and he isn't. This can be substantiated by the most prominent statistics. Mara has made 36 first team appearances for a bottom of the table, relegated club whereas Broja has made 63 for 3 non-relegated teams (Vitesse were 4th in 2020-21). Almost twice the experience, at the 'top' level, in other words. Broja has also played 14 full international matches whereas Mara has played 10 games at under 20 matches and 2 under 21 level. Broja has scored 4 international goals, most of high quality, whereas Mara is nowhere near the first team. To be frank there is, presently, no comparison between the critical performances and experience of the two young men. If Broja was a gamble then Mara is a dangerous shot in the dark.

Zambucco added 16:44 - Jul 25
Get Broja back and play then both together, shit or bust.

I like the sound of that better than Adams & Armstrong.

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