With most of my pieces revolving around the top five leagues, and the Premier League in particular, I thought it’d be fun to branch out and try to find some players in different leagues for a change.
This has come about for a few reasons.
Firstly, with the news about StrataBet data combined with the fact that where I used to scrape my other data from has also stopped, I’m now data-less. However, to try and supplement my data cravings I’ve turned to a popular online scouting/analysis platform that isn’t Instat (I’m hesitant to say the name because it’s only supposed to be used for ‘professional’ purposes).
I’ve had an account before, but I’ve never really used their data, opting instead for StrataBet or my scraped data. Now however, I don’t have a choice. While this means I can’t split data up in ways that I want, it does mean I have access to a hell of a lot more leagues, prompting these pieces.
The second reason is mostly due to the transfer of Krzysztof Piatek, who @AshwinRaman_ wrote about on their Medium, and other transfers from more obscure leagues that seem to be impressive. While this is obviously easier to say in hindsight, they seem like gems but when looking at the data it feels like it’s obvious why teams took a gamble on them.
Last season Piatek had the highest xG in the Polish league with an impressive 18.89. His 0.51 xG p90 was only 10th highest, but he played more minutes than those above him, playing 3366 minutes, while only two above him played more than 2000. Couple that with the fact he’s still only 23-years-old and you can see why Genoa would be willing to gamble on him for £4m.
Then you have teams like Celta and Sampdoria who seem to be dipping into different leagues and it’s paying dividends. @TiagoEstv wrote about Celta’s transfer policy for StatsBomb, but just having a quick look you see that over recent years they’ve signed players like Mathias Jensen, Stanislav Lobotka and Pione Sisto from the Danish League, as well as Maxi Gomez from the Uruguayan League and Robert Mazan from the Slovakian League – who all cost less than £5m each (well, Sisto was apparently £5.4m) and look like they have some great potential.
Over in Italy Sampdoria have had success signing people like Lucas Torreira from Serie B, Milan Skriniar from the Slovakian League, Patrik Schick from the Czech League and Karol Linetty from the Polish League all for a combined ~£10m and have already sold the first three for ~£60m. Finding value in more obscure leagues seems a good way to operate for mid-table clubs, particularly ones that aren’t swimming in Premier League TV money.
The main thing that makes me hesitant about looking at different leagues is that I don’t really know how to assess the strength of them and determine what’s transferable, and I also have no knowledge of them. However, if you’ve read any other pieces on the site, you’ll know that having no knowledge has never stopped me in the past, so why should it bother me now?
I’ve split the players into positions and I generally leaned more towards younger players who can be good investments, rather than peak age players. The only leagues I’m definitely not looking in are the top five, though I’m also trying to stay away from the Eredivisie and Portuguese League – or at least the top teams. Unless a player seems like they could be good value and aren’t being talked about loads, I’m not really going to recommend someone like Frenkie de Jong, Hirving Lozano or Alex Telles because they already get quite a lot of attention and would likely only be viable for your big Champions League clubs at this point.
With that being said, I’m also not aiming to find the most obscure players possible, so there will be recognizable names who just seem like they could provide better value than a player with similar ability due to the league they play in. It’s not like this is anything new, but it’s been something I’ve wanted to look into ever since reading Soccernomics years ago.
I’ve also included some videos for some of the players, but these are just clips that I’ve liked when looking at a bit of video of them and are just there to put a face to the name more than anything else.
I opted to leave out goalkeepers, as I could only really judge them on their xG conceded vs their goals conceded. It may be something I revisit as it seems like there’d be some value out there for an efficient goalkeeper, but the whole section would just be dragging out one stat. Then I’ve also only looked at full-backs rather than centre-backs as I find it really hard to judge centre-backs.
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. The links to the posts are below.