A year in review
From Mo Salah’s expected impact to the dramatic turnaround in fortunes of Fortuna Sittard, and what Chile should learn from Germany. A few standout insights from 2017:
Of the most expensive Premier League signings, Mo Salah was projected to have a bigger impact than the likes of Morata and Lacazette – but less than Lukaku. After a blistering start to the season, our Player Contribution model now ranks the Egyptian as the 25th-best player on the planet.
Lacazette’s move meanwhile raised questions about his ability to translate his scoring form from the comparatively weaker Ligue 1 to the Premier League. Our Football Exchange Rate model expected the Frenchman’s 0.67 non-penalty goals per 90 scoring rate to fall to 0.52 in England; to date he’s netted at 0.46.
The most-improved team in our World Super League model this year is the Dutch Eerste Divisie side Fortuna Sittard. The club appointed Sunday Oliseh as head coach in January, with the club second-bottom of the league. Having survived relegation, they now sit top of the division, with 68% of minutes played by under-23s. Oliseh ranks as one of the top-performing coaches in 2017, when you account for resources at his disposal.
Similarly improved are Notts County, who also appointed a new manager – Kevin Nolan – in January. According to our Defensive Team Strength model, only Romanian second division side Sportul Snagov have seen a bigger defensive improvement in the last twelve months, and Nolan has supported the maxim that managerial changes tend to have a bigger impact at the back than up front.
We also saw Chile fail to qualify for the World Cup. They are the strongest international team not in Russia, according to our League of Nations model, and their decline is inextricably linked to an ageing squad. They’ll need to learn lessons from Germany in order to be competitive again.
The Spanish Segunda B remains a hotspot for young talent. Only the German Bundesliga signed more under-21s on permanent deals in 2017, and only a handful of leagues – most of them first divisions – have more players in our top 250 under-21 player list.
Finally, in the English Championship, Reading reached the Championship play off final with a goal difference of just +4 during the season. Our Performance League model suggested they were in fact only the 18th-best team in the league – a position they have predictably regressed to this season.
Thanks for following us this year and we’ll catch you all in 2018!