A balancing act
It’s also useful to consider the distribution of performance across the team; how good does our best player have to be relative to our tenth-best player, is there a cost to inequality in talent in the squad, and how does that all relate to our budget?
We can, for example, take a relatively simple metric of goals (below). The top scorer at any given club usually scores about 26% of the team’s non-penalty goals, so a Premier League side targeting 7th place – where a team scores just over 50 goals per season – would look for a striker who can deliver about 13 goals per season.
That gives us a starting point for the search process. Would a 13-goal-per-season striker be within budget? What compromise would we have to make elsewhere in the squad if we wanted to reduce our risk in this area?
We have stretched this out further with clubs with whom we work. Our own player contribution metrics provide a perspective on the relative benefit provided by a new player compared to an existing player, and what impact that might have on the club’s finances – e.g. player X is worth 2.1 points to us across the season, which should reduce our relegation risk by y%.
An objective starting point takes us away from generic statements of “player X brings stability to the defence” and “Player Y gives us extra creativity”. How much, and can we afford it?