Finally the wait is almost over. It’s been 75 days since the curtain was drawn on the 2016/17 season, but now we’re just a week away from Premier League football. So what will the new season bring? A title to Manchester? A return to the Champions League for Arsenal? Silverware for Tottenham? To be honest, none of that really matters. What is important is the performance of the players we’ve all drafted in the hope of achieving fantasy football glory. And possibly the biggest question among these is this: how will the new transfers fare?
To try and gauge this we can take a look at past transfers to the Premier League. Specifically, all transfers of at least £5 million that have come into the league since the 2014/15 season. If we compare a player’s performance in the season prior to their transfer with their performance in the season after their transfer, we can figure out whether new arrivals tend to improve, get worse, or stay the same. The WhoScored.com rating will be used, and whilst this is not a perfect measure of performance, it does correlate VERY strongly with Togga PPM, as was shown in this previous article.
175 transfers met the inclusion criteria. These were then categorized by the league from which the player came:
The table below shows the average change in performance for player’s from each league. Other refers to transfers from countries including Russia, Holland, and Brazil.
Interestingly the graph shows that all players tend to perform worse following their transfer. This shouldn’t be that surprising, as most players who are sought after in the summer tend to be ones who are coming off a good season, and therefore we should expect there to be some regression. Not only that, but – as is often said by pundits and managers – new signings may take a while to get settled at a new club and in a new country. This also fits in nicely with the fact that players coming from another English club generally show the smallest decrease in performance.
What is perhaps more interesting is that players coming ‘Other’ leagues tend to struggle most, with players experiencing an average drop of almost 0.6 in their WhoScored rating. Again, this makes sense given that these tend to be “lesser” leagues with a bigger gulf in quality between them and the Premier League. Players coming from Germany also fare poorly, whilst those coming from Spain tend to do best of all the foreign imports. So…what does this all mean for the following big names?
Romelu Lukaku (from “England”)
Manchester United’s new forward had an average rating of 7.50 for Everton last season. If he performs as expected based on the data above, this should stay exactly the same: good news for any Togga managers who have him given his 14.93 PPM last year.
Alexandre Lacazette (from “France”)
Whether he’ll be putting away assists from Alexis Sanchez, or trying to replace him, Arsenal’s new man should expect to see the 7.57 rating he achieved at Lyon last year drop to 7.32 this time around. This would place him in the Christian Benteke range of performance…good but is it worthy of a first round pick?
Alvaro Morata (from “Spain”)
Real Madrid’s back-up forward has gone to be Chelsea’s main man. A 7.17 rating last season should equate to 7.03 this season if the data above holds true. That’s closer to Fernando Llorente than a Diego Costa.
Chicharito (from “Germany”)
West Ham have been praised for their astute business this summer, but Chicharito is coming off the back of a 6.89 season with Bayer Leverkusen. If he follows the mould of many Premier League arrivals from Germany that translates to just 6.49! That’s only slightly better than what Burnley’s Andre Gray achieved last year.
Mohamed Salah (from “Italy”)
Liverpool’s new signing was the 11th best player in Serie A last season with a rating of 7.48. He should expect this to fall to around the 7.22 mark this year, which would still place him in the company of Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling.
Davy Klaassen (“Other”)
Finally Everton’s £23 million man from Ajax managed a 7.35 in the Eredivise last season. Unless he bucks the trend, this should plummet to a 6.77 – lower than the ratings of much-maligned Wayne Rooney, Danny Drinkwater, and Leroy Fer last year.
There are of course many exceptions to the data above. Fernando Llorente’s move from Sevilla to Swansea proved successful for both player and club, as did Yohan Cabaye’s from PSG to Crystal Palace and Marcos Alonso’s from Fiorentina to Chelsea. Nevertheless, if you’re taking a punt on one of the new boys to the Premier League, you have been warned; in MOST cases, they will not be as good as they were last year. In the case of Lacazette, that should still be pretty decent – and in response to my own question above, I would still say yes, he is worth a first round pick. But for others – like Chicharito – the drop tends to be a significant one. Maybe the new Hammers forward will prove to be the exception. It’s certainly plausible given that, unlike many of the other players who have arrived from Germany in the past, he has previous Premier League experience. But don’t be surprised if he ends up this season’s Ahmed Musa or Vincent Janssen – the data would suggest this is the more likely outcome.