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January 13, 2014

Stat Attack - Elite Euro Goalscorers 2011-12

By Ted Knutson

Part 1: Messi did not have the best goalscoring rate in two of the last four seasons.
Part 2: Defining elite goalscoring, and the top scorers of 2009-10.
Part 3: Bonus Points for wide players and midfielders plus younger players. Top scorers of 2010-11.

Greetings. Welcome back to our continuing quest.

To seek out… new information regarding the best scorers in Europe.

To review… younger players that threw up flags years ago that they were going to be really quite good some day.

To boldly go… where few boring statistical analysts have ever gone before…

The NPG90 Zone…

[Note: if you are hopping on board here, you should probably click on part 2 where I discuss the methodolgy more.]

EPL 2011-12
Dzeko was in the Bundesliga top tier in 09-10 and would have been again, if he’d stayed at Wolfsburg. A midseason swap to Manchester City saw his scoring rate drop precipitously, but the next year he actually lead the Premier league in rate, scoring 14 goals from 16.6 90s. Jermain Defoe was second in rate that year off a partial season, and then came Robin van Persie, Papiss Cisse (combined rate between Newcastle and Freiburg), Aguero, Balotelli, and Rooney.

Grant Holt appears here, in perhaps his last super useful season, and you also see Yakubu, who was consistently good before moving to China in search of a big money contract.

Of the younger players, I was not surprised to see Daniel Sturridge show up, but the appearance of Danny Welbeck at age 21 has certainly made me revaluate an opinion based on last year’s abysmal shooting at United.

La Liga 2011-12
La Liga’s performers list is again incredibly deep this season, and boasted four of the top 5 rates in Europe, three of which came from Real Madrid. Llorente is here again, and Alexis Sanchez shows a boost after his move to Barcelona from Serie A. Soldado and Negredo are once again hanging around, banging in goals at a very useful, though not quite great rate.

Note Falcao’s placement and that of Diego Costa (who at that time was spending a half season on loan at Rayo after recovering from ACL surgery). This is exactly why Atletico knew they could cash in on Falcao and lose precisely nothing (and actually gain a lot) by putting Costa in his place.

Also note eventual discount movers Kone and Michu are here, and Sociedad have 22 year old Carlos Vela and 24 year old Agirretxe both on the list. Their improvement plus the addition of Antoine Griezmann would see Sociedad sneak into the 4th Champions League spot a season later.

It’s also kind of funny to see Xavi and Cesc both on this list at identical scoring rates.

Bundesliga 2011-12
Gomez Button? Still here. So are Lewandowski, Reus, Pizarro, and Stefan Kiessling. I had to look up Patrick Helmes on Wikipedia. Looks like he’s a guy with a great career rate, but has blown ACLs a couple of time and bounced around German divisions. Harnik had great rates in 10-11 and 11-12 for Stuttgart but has fallen off a bit since. This is a bit odd, since he’s only 26, but I don’t follow Bundesliga closely enough to know more.

Ibisevic has quietly been a very steady performer year in and year out in Germany, plus you have Ribery here (wide forward bonus) and Kagawa appearing again before moving to Manchester United to somehow sit on their bench and make Klopp cry.

Serie A 2011-12
This year, Italy’s best goalscorer was… Fabrizio Miccoli?

Who was 32 at the time?

Actually, Miccoli’s production for Palermo in his thirties was astounding.  Starting in 09-10, he had a 19G/8A, 9G/2A (only 17 starts), 16/12 (24 starts!), and 8G/8A seasons. Some of those goals are penalty inflated but still… super productivity that late in a career, and being creative as well – that’s almost unheard of. Why did he only seem to turn in those performances that late in his career? Was that the first time he played as a primary striker or something? I am so confused!

Pablo Osvaldo shows up again this season, making me wonder even more about why he looks useless in Southampton. As do Fabio Borini (and he’s really young there) and Bojan, making me think they might just need the right situation to regain their potential. And Mattia Destro is only 20 when he is posting those numbers for Sienna, meaning not only does he have one of the best names in football, he also has a goalscoring rate that extrapolates  to being a probable world beater when adjusted for age. Interesting stuff.

French 2011-12
Giroud’s rate this season is quite good, and it’s what caused Wenger to buy him as Arsenal’s forward of the future. The problem is that his conversion rate there is only 13%, which as we have found out in future years, is pretty much his baseline conversion overall. This is unfortunately below the league average in the Premier League, meaning despite having a lot of useful talents, Giroud is frustratingly inefficient in front of goal.

This whole series is meant to be a data dump on NPG90, but obviously you never want to evaluate forwards or their production in a total vacuum.

What’s curious is that Aubameyang, who appears here for the first time at age 22, had a similar conversion rate to Giroud that year. It got a touch better a year later (13.9%), and is now closer to 21% at Dortmund. There’s a big question of whether or not that is sustainable, but it seems to indicate better surrounding  talent = better chance locations = better conversion rate. Maybe. More research is required.

Article by Ted Knutson