The Top 25 Scoring Leaders: La Liga 2014
Welcome back to scoring contribution week. In today’s scintillating edition, we will look at the Top 25 scorers in La Liga. Who had the biggest scoring contribution rate in La Liga this season? Was it Ronaldo? Messi? New boy Gareth Bale? And where did the ferocious Diego Costa land on the list? I’ll cover all that plus various other topics below.
The Top 5
Just like yesterday, I’ll present these in animated radar format, and then give some thoughts about the data.
[All single radars for the Top 5 are included at the end of this article.]
WOW, the scoring rate battle in La Liga was tight. You’ll see in the full Top 25 data below that Ronaldo lead the league with 1.20 Non-penalty Goals + Assists per 90 in 2013-14, but there were .01 points per90 separating him from Messi this season. And only .03 points per90 separating Ronaldo from Gareth Bale. That’s razor thin.
The other two members of the top 5 are both Barcelona players, giving the Catalan club three of the top 5, and four of the top 10. (Neymar was the other one.)
- This season, I read Barcelona fans on Twitter saying Messi doesn’t tackle much anymore. This is his 5-year trend in Interceptions + Tackles per90: 2.28, 1.39, 1.27, 1.00, .58. And here I thought the Ronaldo puppet’s line was “No trackin’ back.”
- The numbers for Bale, Sanchez, and Pedro are all really interesting because they are all second or third scoring options on their teams, yet performing better than the bulk of Europe. There’s a huge question of whether or not they would continue this level of production if they transferred teams, and both Pedro and Alexis are allegedly available for the right price this summer.
- Re: point directly above. Alexis’s shooting and conversion rates are ridiculous. In fact, Alexis’s conversion rate is not sustainable in the long-term even at Barcelona, and unless his shots go up somewhere (remember, he’s 2nd fiddle to Messi), then his scoring will go down. In his younger days at Udinese, he played more of an attacking midfield role instead of a wide forward, and the bulk of the play went through him. That said, his scoring rate is absolutely tremendous, and he consistently looks awesome when playing for Chile as well. Can he play center forward in the Premier League at only 5’7? Not in a traditional team, no. But can he be a primary scorer on a team that is flexible enough to play to his strengths? Almost certainly. Tevez and Aguero are both shorter, non-traditional forwards who have done very well in England in the past.
- As you’ll see in the big list below, there’s a big drop from Alexis to Pedro, with Pedro’s production basically the same as the second tier of outstanding La Liga players like Benzema, Neymar, Aduriz, etc.
- I think it’s safe to say that Gareth Bale’s first season in Spain has been a success.
The Top 25
The thing that strikes me about this list is how few young players there are. Outside of the big 2, almost every player in the top 25 is in their prime or still performing well into their 30’s. That makes it tougher to spot bargains that English clubs should be grabbing before they explode into the mainstream.
From my transfer profiles last season, I had Costa, Vela, Ebert, Griezman, Koke, and Rakitic all as great targets. (Vela and Isco were fairly obvious, so I didn’t profile them, but I do hope Vela comes back to England this summer. He had an amazing season for Sociedad.) After that it gets tricky to find pure value for age targets in Spain right now, at least in the scoring department. Some lower-half English clubs might take shots at some of the older scorers in Spain right now, but all the best young guys are either already stars (Neymar) or simply owned by the top 2 clubs anyway (Rafinha).