By Tony Attwood
I’ve done several pieces of late which argue against the statement that “you can prove anything with statistics”.
But suddenly I find myself doubting my own argument, as the CIES Football Observatory has published its list of the most valuable players in world football.
Their statement is that the list takes into account age, ability, length of contract and players’ marketability .
Three Arsenal players appear in the top twenty at the moment and I was so struck by the way their value is calculated that I thought I would also take a look at a couple of Chelsea players to see what happened to them by way of comparison.
Santi Cazorla is 20th on the list and is valued at £31.73m, having cost Arsenal £16m. That might well be right – although it is a massive valuation for a player in his 30s. Arsenal’s fee was certainly a bargain and it came about because Santi’s club was in desperate financial trouble and needed to ship out players quickly. It is interesting that when the silly little people who endlessly attack Mr Wenger make their comments about his bad management they forget deals like this.
Mesut Özil is 12th on the list with a valuation of £38.25m down from the £42m Arsenal paid for him. This is interesting in that the weekly report from CIS Football Observatory has a section on attacking midfielders and Özil is top, with Hazard second.
Added to which, just about every observation at the moment suggests that Özil is now on top of his game, and getting better with every match, so how come he is dropping in value?
5th in the table is Alexis Sanchez who cost Arsenal £35m and is now valued at £61.43m. He certainly has been a revelation since he came, and seemed to be getting better and better before the injury, so maybe that is right although it seems a huge jump.
But being a suspicious kind of bloke, as I said, I decided to have a look at two Chelsea players for comparison
Cesc Fabregas comes in at 11, and he is valued at £44.7m, having cost Chelsea £26.3m. And having watched him play, go round in circles and kick the ball deliberately at his own colleagues on the pitch, I can’t see how his value has gone up.
It is as if the calculators are saying that the decline of Chelsea is totally down to the manager and nothing to do with the players! But if that is so, how do you value a player, if not as part of a team?
The last one I looked at was the highest valued player on the list: Eden Hazard. He is now valued at £97.88m having cost £32m.
His record shows the dramatic decline this season from his last three. And that is my worry. These figures don’t seem to take account of this season which in terms of Chelsea makes the figures useless. Here is Hazard.
|Season||Lge played||Lge goals||Total played||Total goals|
Anyway, since I was looking at this stuff I moved on to another CIES feature, the best big-5 league players since the start of the season ranked according to a technical analysis of performance.
This certainly covers this season, and was last updated on 11 January
The top centre back is Laurent Koscielny, with Mertesacker in 8th – which shows why they are quite an amazing pairing. The only pairing that rivals them on this table is Blind and Smalling for Man U who are 3rd and 7th.
At full back Arsenal have Monreal in 3rd and Bellerin in 6th, a pairing only beaten by Man City who have Kolarov and Sagna at 2nd and 4th.
For defensive midfield Santi Cazorla is top of the list, Ramsey in 4th. The nearest rival pairing is Toure and Fernadinho of Man C in 2nd and 8th.
Attacking midfield gives us Özil top of the tree, way, way out in front of the rest.
As for the forwards, Lukaku is the top man, Sanchez is in 4th, Giroud is 9th. Everton potentially look the most dangerous with Kone in 7th.
One more table from them has the best players of 2015 across all the top leagues in Europe
Koscielny was the fourth best centre back, Bellerin the second right back, Monreal the best left back. Coquelin the 5th best defensive central midfielder (not bad considering he was thought to be useless by some who endlessly called for another DM to be bought) and Santi Cazorla the best central midfielder.
Özil of course was top attacking midfielder, but none of our players were in the top ten for forwards probably because we shared the duties around between Giroud, Alexis and Theo.
So can you prove anything with statistics? Not really – because I can’t work out how these valuations and positions have been reached so I can’t judge the stats. Why Özil is worth less than he was two and a half years ago I don’t know, but maybe there is a reason. Maybe it was that long injury lay off, and the suspicion it might happen again.
But it does make the point: if you want to play with numbers you do have to be clear as to what you are basing your numbers on.
Two more memories (it’s Untold’s birthday)
- 12 January 2003: Birmingham 0 Arsenal 4. Two goals from Henry against Birmingham City took his Arsenal total to 100 goals in all competitions.
- 12 January 2008: Arsenal 1 Birmingham 1. Part of a 14 match run of 12 wins and 2 draws. Untold Arsenal’s first ever report focuses on organised time wasting with the ball out of play with the report headlined, “Arsenal witness the end of football”.