Some mornings I wake up and there are giant debates raging in my Twitter mentions about which transfer targets a team should prefer. I get roped into them because usually someone wants a statistical take on a player. Depending on how much time I have, I usually answer back on Twitter or broadcast it in my timeline, but since Twitter stuff disappears quickly and site stuff does not, it’s probably better if I start jotting these thoughts down and making posts out of them.

If you don’t like these compared to the more detailed work we tend to produce here at StatsBomb, be assured they will be limited to transfer season.

Today’s debate was: Xherdan Shaqiri vs. Adam Lallana.

I did an entire piece for The Mirror looking at Lallana’s valuation, and what appears to be a £25M price tag on Southampton’s end. Lallana is the type of guy that does many things quite well, but no one thing is world class. This makes him surprisingly valuable, but… even with the fact that he’s an English player, in my opinion he’s not worth £25M.  My valuation, and I suspect Liverpool’s as well, put Lallana in the £15-18M range, meaning 25M would be an overpay of 30% or so. I could see 20, but £25M is right out.

The other side of this debate is Xherdan Shaqiri. Haven’t seen Shaqiri play much at Bayern Munich? Here, have a highlight reel.

Stuff you should know:

  • Built like a brick shithouse. Super low center of gravity and incredibly strong.
  • Looks a bit like Robbie Williams from certain angles.
  • Outstanding dribbler. Great burst of pace.
  • Decision making could perhaps use a bit of work, but that comes with more playing time. You cannot knock a 21-22 year old for finding it tough to get playing time behind Robben and Ribery.
  • He’s a natural wide player, but could potentially play more centrally with some training work. 2.8 shots per 90 isn’t there, but if he played more centrally he would likely turn into a shot monster (4+ a game).
  • Averages 1.34 crosses per90 at 34% accuracy. That’s very good.
  • Super creative, very high levels of key passes, but still takes care of the ball.

I wanted to bulk up his sample size of game time a bit, so I combined his last two seasons of Bundesliga play at Bayern for this radar.

Shaqiri_2012-14

You can argue there is a bit of Bayern boost here, but you can also argue that he’s 21 and 22 years old in these seasons, and they potentially cancel each other out. Whatever conclusion you come to, Shaqiri is exceptional in almost every facet of the attacking game.

And here’s how he stacks up against Lallana.

Shaqiri_2012-14_v_Lallana_Overlay

A couple of things to note. First, these guys are very different players. Lallana’s role tends to be as a central attacking mid, or an inverted left wide forward, while Shaqiri is more of a pure attacker, usually from the right wing. He can do other things, but I’m not sure you’d want him to. Lallana also does more defensive work, partly because of Pochettino’s Southampton system and partly because he’s usually deployed further inside. Lallana’s defensive numbers are excellent, and he’s excelled there while playing a pressing and trapping system (which Rodgers sometimes employs at Liverpool, often to great success).

Both of these guys are very good, but Shaqiri’s stats profile like a young World Class player, and Lallana’s profile like a very good Englishman.

If I paid £20M for Lallana, I’d feel like I probably paid a fair price for a very good player. If I paid even £20M for Shaqiri (and it’s possible he could be had for less), I’d feel like I got a huge steal for his current production, and could end up with someone like Luis Suarez or Gareth Bale in two years time.

 

 

  • Ted

    Don’t forget the big fish in a small pond boost for Lallana as well – not the mention the Pochettino factor.

  • Ali

    I’ve been following Statsbomb for the past 9-10 months and first of all kudos for some pretty class stuff.
    Normally I am quite lazy to do comments but the comparison you brought up has its roots in an issue that has bugged me for some time now.
    There’s this whole host of exceptional buys out there whom big teams seem to ignore/ miss out.
    You had quite a few of them mentioned when you did that piece on Under the radar statistically brilliant players. I’ll list some anyway:
    Current Shaqiri situation
    Shaqiri’s initial 10m move to Bayern
    Pjanic to Roma for 9m
    Xhaka to Gladbach
    Strootman to Roma
    Rakitic currently
    To some extent Reus to Dortmund(even though Bayern were heavily interested)

    As a United fan it frustrates me that we overpay for players like Zaha,Young, even Valencia for that matter.
    As more and more of these players prosper, its a mystery how these big teams, with such extensive scouting networks, seem to miss out on these seemingly obviously talented players.
    Even though stats is primarily what you do, I’d really like you to shed some light on this issue. As in what might be the team’s reason for missing out on them, is it just pure incompetence/ignorance or is their really some risk involved in going after these players.

  • mrparkersdogbite

    Interesting stuff. But as a new reader to your blog I’m struck that while your radar visualisation tool allows you to compare two players very closely (and display the results very accessibly) it seems to over-emphasise players’ attacking traits and under-emphasise their defensive abilities. On one level I suppose this makes sense because you’re comparing two attacking midfielders but is it really so unlikely (I haven’t checked) that Lallana offers much more than Shaquiri defensively? But the radar doesn’t demonstrate that at all aside from showing that Lallana is superior according to the single defensive-focussed criterion (Int+Tackles). In contrast there are eight attacking-focussed criteria and two (Passing% and Disposessed) which could be categorised as neutral. Maybe you’ve covered this in a previous blog. If so I apologise.

  • Chris

    Hi,

    I think this Statistics are excellent, but as everyone already said, you did not take into account the defensive factors.

    Could you do another statistical comparison between these two players in terms of defensive attributes (which may be the main interest of Liverpool)?
    I think it would be very interesting..

  • John Frasene

    How about throwing Emre Can in? Seems like we are closer to a deal for him than for Shaqiri at this point.

  • jamal

    Hey could u do a stats comparison onXHERDAN SHAQIRI vs roberto firmino I really think liverpool should sign firmino watchd him a couple of times dis season and I think we should really snap up dat dude