Have you ever watched someone play and you heard everyone revving about them, but deep down within your inner monologue you kept repeating - ‘I don’t get it’.
We develop a rating system to predict the positional ranking based on player - position focused data interpretation.
I am a stat guy but sports statistic could be misleading too. It is important to analyse the right data more so than charting every possible data. Hot takes start with a luke worm observation and a case of mild dehydration. That’s why everyone should drink water or else getting mad like Skip Bayless over Lebron’s rebound per game will be in our near future. I will discuss more about this in my upcoming article named ‘Dehydration and Sparkling Water’ (I went on a tangent there!)
Can we predict the greatness of a player and vice versa based on numbers and numbers alone? The old school conventional method of scouting would be the ‘eye test’. Ronaldo and Messi can be regarded as the best in the business by both visual and mathematical interpretation in the attacking front. What about everyone else?
To bring the Harry Kane conversation into perspective, we will indulge into forward/ striker statistical deep dives. Based on public opinion and the old school scouting fundamentals, we can count the best attacking threats in European top leagues (exclude - Ronaldo and Messi) as Suarez, Neymar, Kane, Salah, Lewandowski, Aguero, Cavani, Benzema, Lukaku and Ibrahimovic (recently moved to MLS). Are all of them elite? or some of them overrated?
Before imprinting someone with the harsh red letters that read ‘overrated’, we must define the meaning in the context of Football and the boundaries of this article. Not that they care what I think because each and everyone of the name mentioned above earns more than $150,000 per week. Money is where the paradigm of ‘overrated’ starts and we follow the trail.
Neymar earns a whooping 720 thousand pound every week at PSG, compared to 200 thousand for Salah, Lewandowski and Kane. The astronomical income of Neymar can be directly related to his popularity and PSG’s attempt to win the popularity battle with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
We would attempt to quantify the top attacking threats based on the goals scored per game (2015-2018), dribbles per game, key passes attempted per game, total shots taken per game, headed goals per game and penalties taken. Lewandowski has scored at a rate of 0.86 goals per game across all competitions followed by Luis Suarez’s phenomenal 0.81. Kane and Aguero had a record of 0.76 and 0.72 goals scored per game, respectively. Lewandowski’s poacher instinct is unparalleled and his scoring prowess justifies the data. Even though Lewandowski has the best scoring rate among the listed players, his completed dribbles per game is a meager 0.6 compared to a flamboyant 7.1 for Neymar. Harry Kane completes a below average 1.3 dribbles per game as well. The information establishes Neymar’s ability to create spaces in tighter spots and to play in a No. 9, 10 or 7 role whereas Lewandowski and Kane are at their best as the target men up top. Suarez was one of the top scorer but his total shots per game is the lowest at 3.7 compared to a high of 5 for Harry Kane. Harry Kane is a volume shooter with lower conversion rate. Kane’s high attempt can be accounted to his stature as the focal point of Tottenham unlike Suarez playing in the shadow of Lionel Messi (yet flourishing).
Over the past few seasons, Harry Kane has tried to play in a more attacking midfield role but his key passes per game is a lowly 0.9 compared to a high of 3.5 for Neymar and 1.7 for Suarez and Salah. Harry Kane, Aguero and Lewandowski are more traditional strikers who need a good midfield rock to assist them with scoring whereas Neymar, Suarez and Salah can fall back and create, if needed. Lewandowski’s high scoring rate should take into consideration that he scored 7 penalties last year in contrast to a maximum of 4 for Aguero and Neymar. Harry Kane and Lewandowski can be considered as dual threats from set pieces as they can attempt free-kicks as well as take headers per game with a success rate of 0.8 and 0.9 respectively. (both headed passes and goals considered).
Neymar and Salah’s high percentage of dribbling attempt is directly proportional to bad control per game and losing possessions. Neymar charted a high of 3.4 and 2.9 compared to a low of 1.4 and 1 for Lewandowski respectively.
CAN WE FIND A WAY TO RANK THE DATA, PLEASE?
For the sake of science and definitive ranking, we try to correlate their ranking on each categories discussed. The highest ranked player in each category was given a 6 and a 1 for the worst (duh!). We use polar grading for negative statistics (like bad control per game and dispossessed per game) . The grading from the rankings were added, subsequently divided by their weekly wage and multiplied by 100 to get a value, We call it DSIG (Definitive Soccer-Investment Grading).
Robert Lewandowski received the highest DSIG of 16.8 to top the list of elite strikers. Harry Kane compiled a high of 15.0 above Sergio Aguero with 11.6 and Mo Salah finishing as 4th with a DSIG of 9.5. Suarez and Neymar got 8.20 and 3.8 respectively in the DSIG scale to complete the ranking. High weekly wage of Neymar and Suarez skewed the data as pure striker/ forward against them. The true appreciation of their effect on the game will require charting and collaborating their midfield and forward score in the Definitive Soccer -Investment Grading.
The article started with my juxtaposition on Harry Kane. I wanted to disprove the popular notion of his elite status. I think, I failed?