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. [youtube id=”tvXakNsBBSQ” width=”633″ height=”356″] 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. 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. 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.