What repercussions does Rennes forward Ola Toivonen, a signing from PSV Eindhoven, have on Benfica loanee Nelson Oliveira? Here is a scouting report on Oliveira's season with Rennes thus far and what Toivonen adds to Philippe Montanier's Rennes team.
The End For Oliveira?
Heading into this season, Oliveira had never scored 10 or more league goals in a single campaign on loan stints at Rio Ave, Pacos Ferreira and Deportivo de La Coruna.
You can imagine Benfica supporters being pleasantly surprised when their loanee, a habitual underachiever since the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, scored seven goals in his first 11 Ligue 1 games.
Suddenly, the theory of Oliveira being a flat-track bully at the youth level did not hold up.
What has derailed Oliveira from becoming a breakout star at Rennes can be illustrated in the snippets of immaturity he has displayed this season.
Oliveira's two yellow cards in a 2-0 defeat to Guingamp were daft.
He had already been booked for fouling Guingamp centre-midfielder Lionel Mathis and then conceded two further free-kicks.
That was the context leading up to Oliveira tripping Guingamp centre-forward Christophe Mandanne, which produced a second yellow card from referee Lionel Jaffredo. Five minutes later, Mandanne created a goal for Mustapha Yatabare and Guingamp went 2-0 up.
If there was one game to encapsulate Oliveira's season, it would be the 1-1 draw against Marseille.
He was put through on goal by teammate Jonathan Pitroipa, Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda had waved the white flag and centre-back Nicolas N'Koulou was in the process of tumbling over.
Inexplicably, Oliveira attempted a back-heel and it deflected off a grounded N'Koulou, who then athletically cleared the ball off the line.
All Oliveira needed to do was trap the ball and tap it in.
He compensated by rocketing a shot past Mandanda.
As was typical when discussing Oliveira, however, the talking point was not his great goal. It was what happened later in the game.
Mandanda, who was off his line before the penalty was taken, saved Oliveira's spot-kick.
Three months after that ill-advised back-heel and missed penalty, Oliveira has yet to score in league play.
He clearly did not take in Montanier's comments.
"We still lack the consistency which would allow us to improve still further," Montanier told Ligue1.com. "It's up to us to up our game, because we can't count on our opponents' weaknesses."
Oliveira's gilt-edged misses, inability to lead the line—loses out in 85 percent of headed duels—fail rate when taking on opposing players—45 percent dribble success—and status as a loanee are reasons why Toivonen was signed from PSV in the January transfer window.
Oliveira out, Toivonen in
When asked if Toivonen would be inserted into the line-up against Lille, Montanier told Ligue1.com it was a possibility.
Toivonen has started in the No. 9 position in successive games against Lille and Lyon.
Meanwhile, Oliveira was an impact sub against Lille and watched from the bench when Toivonen scored in his only meaningful action of the game.
The saving grace for Oliveira is Toivonen is not an out-and-out No. 9.
He is a deep-lying forward who can create for his teammates, as opposed to being a gunner in front of goal. At one point in this season, he had assists in three straight games, yet scored only once in 20 combined Eredivisie/UEFA Europa League games.
Ideally for Oliveira, he starts up front and Toivonen plays behind him.
However, that plan is scuppered if Montanier persists with giving Abdoulaye Doucoure the license to break from midfield in a 4-3-3.
It was his pass which set up Toivonen's goal against Lyon and Doucoure also scored in the previous game against Lille.
With the exception of the Valenciennes game when Oliveira was suspended, he has been either a starter or a super-sub in Ligue 1.
For him to start and finish the game on the bench against Lyon is worrying.