The overvalued asset
Imagine that this winter your squad had a player who you believed to be overvalued. Perhaps he’s a “Match of the Day player” who you suspect doesn’t contribute as much as his highlights suggest. He might be a defender who makes last-ditch tackles that only give away corners, or an ageing player who is enjoying an extended run of form. Not only that, imagine that you still have a realistic chance of achieving your points or positional targets for the season.
Broadly, there are two options; reject the likely offers, or sell and replace.
- Reject the offers: if your league objective is within reach, why create needless uncertainty? While the player’s value may erode, he has clearly been a key member of the side. Football is about winning, and there’s a reputational cost – which varies for different clubs – to selling and then missing out on your target this season.
- Sell and replace: given a better-than-expected return on a player, there’s the opportunity to invest intelligently on a fair-value and/or younger player (notwithstanding the market reacting to your sale). There are much more unknowns here, but the benefits have the potential to be much more long-lasting than in option 1.
It’s a dilemma that can be resolved, in part, with better information. Even a back-of-the-envelope estimation of a player’s points-value to a team compared to a potential replacement – and the associated revenues with the possible outcomes – can give a top-level view on a player’s worth.
Statistical models that indicate a player’s contribution can provide another, more objective perspective. For example, our own analysis suggests that West Ham’s Dimitri Payet is worth around 3 points to the team between now and the end of the season compared to a replacement-level player. Already facing the prospect of winning less than 45 points, the club might decide that despite the player being 29 years old only a ridiculous offer would outweigh the increased risk of relegation.
The point is that the strategy around this player should already be established; at what price to sell (if at all), and ensuring there is a process to replace him, if needed. Having a clear vision in place during the busy January period will enable us to get the best from the choice we make.