As all Charlton fans know by now, Charlie Kirk has joined from Crewe on a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee (rumoured to be his release clause of £500k). The four-year deal feels like a real statement of intent as contracts tended to be short and cheap in the late Duchatelet era and ESI debacle.
Four Year Contracts!
Historically, it has been more than five years since Charlton last gave a player a 4+ year deal. The player in question was ex-Standard Liege centre back Jorge Teixeira, who joined in January 2016 with the club in the midst of a relegation battle. Ultimately Charlton would be relegated that season and Teixeira’s 4.5-year deal would become a millstone around the club’s neck. That 2015/16 season had previously seen Patrick Bauer (4 years), Zakarya Bergdich (4 years), and Naby Sarr (5 years) all arrive on long contracts with varying levels of success. Since then, Charlton have mostly given players two-year deals, causing average new signing contract length to decrease.
Kirk played a lot of football last season. When compared to the Charlton squad, only ever-present Ben Amos played more minutes than him in 2020/21. In fact, since fully breaking into the Crewe first team three seasons ago, he has featured in 78% of total minutes available.
By virtue of playing a lot of football last season, his stats are very good when compared to the 2020/21 Charlton squad as he scored 6 goals and assisted 8 last season – two more assists than Charlton’s strongest players, Andrew Shinnie and Liam Millar (6 each). However, when looking at Goals and Assists per 90 in 2020/21, Kirk sits behind the likes of Andrew Shinnie, Diallang Jaiyesimi, and Liam Millar in the table with a goal or an assist on average every 3 games.
Where Kirk really does shine statistically is in his ability to create chances in and around the box. On Key passes per 90, a statistic that tracks the pass prior to a shot which doesn’t result in a goal, Kirk was bettered only by Aidan McGeady last season. This suggests that the Crewe front line struggled to put away the chances that Kirk was serving up for them – hopefully Stockley will be more successful.
For Deep Completions per 90, a statistic that tracks non-cross passes within 20m of the goal, Kirk was easily the best in the league last season. From this, we can gather than Kirk is a player that likes to cut in and drive at the opposition before releasing a defence-splitting pass, rather than hugging the byline and crossing the ball in. On both these metrics, Kirk even bettered Ipswich’s new signing Scott Fraser last season.
For a very thorough account of Kirk’s performance at Crewe and his potential tactical role under Adkins, see Crewe Analytics’ excellent article.