Searching the Stats v3.3

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Searching the Stats

Episode 3 – Midfield Part 1

Episode 1 – Introduction and full-backs

Episode 2 – Centre-backs

In episode 3 we’re going to look at the type of qualities we need from our central midfield. We decided in episode 1 that we’ll be going with a box to box midfielder, a ball-winning midfielder (D) and a central midfielder (Au), and will be wanting 2 of each position along with a good all-rounder to ensure good depth. In this episode, we’ll be finding the box to box midfielder and ball-winning midfielder.

So let’s examine each position to work out what we need for each position.

We’ll be sticking with the generic criteria we’ve applied for every position so far:

Started a minimum of 15 games in the last season

Value in between 150k and £20m

Age at most 32

Box to Box Midfielders

We’ll also be looking for the following characteristics:

Distance Covered – Work-rate is essential for a Box to Box midfielder as well, they’re expected to run tirelessly between both our box and the opposition box

Interceptions – We require our Box to Box midfielder to be sound defensively as well as offensively, so interceptions are a key part of that along with Tackles Per Game, Tackle Completion % and Key Tackles.

Key Passes – We want our Box to Box midfielder to get involved with our attacks, and the key pass stat is a great one to determine his involvement in and around the opposition area.

Pass Attempts –  Our Box to Box midfielder needs to be technically gifted and obviously able to pick a pass, so pass attempts combined with Pass Completion % should give us a good indication on

Assists – Whilst not an essential stat, the number of assists the box to box midfielder provided will give a good indication of his offensive output.

Yellow Cards – Not flawless logic, but the lesser the yellow cards the better at tackling and positioning our midfielder should be.

Average Rating – Self-explanatory!

 

When we apply the following criteria:

Started a minimum of 15 games in the last season

Value in between 150k and £20m

Age at most 32

Distance Covered = at least 300k

Interceptions = at least 75

Key passes = at least 20

We’re given a list of 9 potential players:

Ivan Perez: The 25-year-old has spent the whole of his career (bar a 2 game loan spell) at Atletico Bilbao where he’s racked up an impressive 283 La Liga appearances. He’s only missed 2 games in the last 3 seasons and has racked up an average rating of above 7 for the last 4 seasons in a row. I imagine he’d be a fantastic buy, although most likely pricey. He joins the main shortlist for further analysis.

Soufiane Hajii: The Moroccan has spent the whole of his career playing in Belgium with Zulte Waregem. He’s been a regular in their team for the last 8 seasons and has impressive season stats – with an average rating of above 7 for the last 6 seasons. Joins the main shortlist.

Rob York: Was plucked by Everton from Fulhams academy at the age of 17 (for a fee of £800k) where he spent 5 and a half seasons without making an appearance before finally get a loan move to Championship side Bristol Rovers. Based on his appearances for Bristol Rover, League 1 Bolton took the plunge and signed him for £1.1m. His appearances led them to promotion and then a mid-table finish in the Championship. Whilst he’s young (24), English and likely talented, I can’t help but think a season and a half in the Championship isn’t good preparation for life in the Premier League. Gets added to the secondary shortlist.

Guillaume Eyraud: The French midfielder started his career at Nancy where he rose out the academy, making a handful of appearances and a few loan moves out to fellow Ligue 2 sides. After 9 years at Nancy, he moved on a permanent transfer to Ligue 2 team Bastia for a fee of 170k. He could be ready for the step up to a tougher league as he’s approaching the peak of his career (he’s 26) and has clearly outgrown Ligue 2 (hitting a strong average rating over the past few seasons). Joins the secondary shortlist.

Oscar Fernandez: The 24-year-old Spaniard started his career at Mallorca. He spent most of his time at Mallorca B however, until Segunda Division team Elche decided to splash out £3.3m on him, he helped them get promoted in his debut season there and then had his first season in the top flight. Elche got relegated in their first season returning to La Liga so Espanyol decided to spend £2.5m on him. 2 seasons at Espanyol followed before Real Sociedad spent £3.3m on him where he’s spent the last 2 seasons. He’s obviously a good player as Espanyol had made Europa League when he joined at Real Sociedad are now regulars in the top 4 of La Liga. He’s made numerous appearances in European competitions and is an established regular in La Liga. Joins the main shortlist.

James Morrison: A product of the Crewe academy, he broke into their first team (in League 2) after spending 4 seasons in the academy. League 1 Swindon took a punt on him after a good few seasons at Crewe. He helped get Swindon promoted to the championship and stayed after they got relegated. He’s 27 now and has only played a solitary season above League 1. I find it hard to believe he’ll be capable of making the step up so he gets ruled out.

Will Craig: Came through the ranks at Fulhams academy before being bought by fellow Championship side Middlesbrough. 3 seasons then followed without any game-time, before finally spending 2 seasons on loan in League 1. He impressed enough in League 1 for Millwall to purchase him for £275k. He was one of the league’s standout performers as Millwall finished 3rd, losing in the play-off semi-finals. He’s young (only 23) so I’ll add him to the secondary shortlist as there’s a chance he could make it in the Premier League in the future.

Dimitris Meliopoulos: The ageing (he’s 31) veteran Greek midfielder started his career at Greek club Xanthi where he spent a total of 9 seasons before moving to Italy with Bologna. 5 seasons in Italy (4 spent in Serie A) then followed where he was a regular in the starting lineup of Bologna. He moved to Holland 3 seasons ago with Vitesse for a fee of 3.4m. Whilst he’s ageing, he has a good pedigree, although the Premier League might be a step too far for him now. He joins the secondary shortlist.

Tommy Biggs: Has never played above league 2 level and is now 25, can’t see him making the step up. Ruled out.

Main Shortlist

Ivan Perez:

Soufiane Hajii:

Oscar Fernandez:

The radars show us that each player has their specialities: Oscar Fernandez looks to be more technical with the defensive side of his game lacking somewhat (although he does run the most!) whilst Soufiane Hajii seems to be a solid all-rounder. Ivan Perez is an interesting one, he has a lot of interceptions and key tackles, however, the amount of tackles per game is quite low. That could be down to his positioning meaning he doesn’t have to tackle as he’s always in the right place at the right time, and the low amount of yellow cards (despite playing every single La Liga game) would seem to back that up.

  1. Ivan Perez
  2. Soufiane Hajii
  3. Oscar Fernandez

 

Secondary shortlist

Rob York:

Guillaume Eyraud:


Will Craig:


Dimitris Meliopoulos:

Rob York looks too defensively weak to be able to play the box to box role, Eyraud looks a solid all rounder with Will Craig looking a great offensive output mixed with some good defensive numbers whilst Meliopoulos doesn’t look to involve himself in the play enough to be considered.

  1. Will Craig
  2. Guillaume Eyraud
  3. Dimitris Meliopoulos
  4. Rob York

 

Ball Winning Midfielder

 

We obviously want our ball-winning midfielder to be a beast defensively, so we’re after high outputs in every defensive aspect such as Tackle Attempts, Tackle Completion Ratio, Key Tackles, Tackles per game and Interceptions.

Pass Completion ratio and Pass Attempts are also a big factor as we want our BWM to be able to successfully lay off the ball after winning it

Yellow Cards should determine whether our potential signing either has a problem with discipline or is generally bad at tackling.

Average Rating – Pretty self-explanatory!

 

With all the criteria applied we’re left with the following 6 players, 4 of which we’ve already looked at above.

Ivan Perez: The 25-year-old has spent the whole of his career (bar a 2 game loan spell) at Atletico Bilbao where he’s racked up an impressive 283 La Liga appearances. He’s only missed 2 games in the last 3 seasons and has racked up an average rating of above 7 for the last 4 seasons in a row. I imagine he’d be a fantastic buy, although most likely pricey. He joins the main shortlist for further analysis.

Soufiane Hajii: The Moroccan has spent the whole of his career playing in Belgium with Zulte Waregem. He’s been a regular in their team for the last 8 seasons and has impressive season stats – with an average rating of above 7 for the last 6 seasons. Joins the main shortlist.

Ricardo Silva: The 24-year-old Argentine has been with his club Lanus for the entirety of his career (bar spells out on loan to Estoril in Portugal). That being said he hasn’t set the league alight, with his seasonal best average rating a lowly 6.74 (5 seasons ago!) so seems unlikely he’d be able to deal with the step up in class. Joins the secondary shortlist.

James Morrison: A product of the Crewe academy, he broke into their first team (in League 2) after spending 4 seasons in the academy. League 1 Swindon took a punt on him after a good few seasons at Crewe. He helped get Swindon promoted to the championship and stayed after they got relegated. He’s 27 now and has only played a solitary season above League 1. I find it hard to believe he’ll be capable of making the step up so he gets ruled out.

Will Craig: Came through the ranks at Fulhams academy before being bought by fellow Championship side Middlesbrough. 3 seasons then followed without any game-time, before finally spending 2 seasons on loan in League 1. He impressed enough in League 1 for Millwall to purchase him for £275k. He was one of the league’s standout performers as Millwall finished 3rd, losing in the play-off semi-finals. He’s young (only 23) so I’ll add him to the secondary shortlist as there’s a chance he could make it in the Premier League in the future.

Cassim Alexander: A product of Bournemouth’s academy, Cassim spent 7 years on the south coast without making a single appearance before joining League 1 team Southend for £125k. He’s spent an incredible 8 seasons there, however now aged 28 and having never played above League 1 level I find it hard to think that he’ll be able to make the step up. Ruled out.

 

Main Shortlist:

Ivan Perez:

Soufiane Hajii:

A very tough choice, but Ivan Perez’s stats make him look like a very classy player, so he becomes the number 1 choice with Hajii a close second.

 

Secondary Shortlist:

 

Ricardo Silva:

Will Craig:

Will Craig becomes the main backup target due to looking technically and defensively better than Silva.
Join me next time as we recruit for a versatile CM and a playmaker!

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