Finding undervalued talent
As a football industry we’ve been trying harder and harder in recent years to find ‘undervalued talent’, with mixed success.
Broadly, there are two approaches we can take. The first is bottom-up; finding traits or actions that our competitors dismiss, but actually tells us more about a player. For example, valuing the quality and quantity of chances created, rather than actual assists. Or prioritising what a player has done in his league matches rather than international tournaments.
The second approach is top-down. This is a more literal approach on finding undervalued talent – it involves looking for talented leagues and teams that pay less. Take the Czech First League, below. The latest UEFA Benchmarking Report revealed that the league’s average club earned just €3.2m in 2014-15, which makes them the 29th wealthiest top division in Europe.
However, our World Super League model tells us that the clubs’ performances, both domestically and internationally, means their teams are on average the 14th-best in Europe. The average club in the Czech Republic is almost as good as an average team in the Austrian Bundesliga or Dutch Eredivisie, despite earning four and eight times less respectively.
Further digging might reveal specific teams that are outperforming their resources, or it may be that Czech teams are greater than the sum of their parts (i.e. even though the teams are successful their players are less talented). Regardless, the principles of a top-down approach are often simpler to execute. While bottom-up analysis often requires wading around in data trying to find correlations that inevitably need context, a top-down approach removes a lot of the noise and can make scouting for undervalued talent a much more efficient process.