Summer Signings Togga continues with the midfielders currently playing for European clubs who could make an impact in the Premier League next season (if they arrive here!). As with Part 1, there are some limitations to be aware of at the bottom of the article, but here are the players who made the cut:
Midfielder: Isco Team: Real Madrid
Reasons for Promise: 10 goals is a great return for a player who has only started 16 league games this season. It makes him the joint 17th top scorer in La Liga, but notably, joint 1st amongst midfielders. His 7.21 WhoScored rating puts him in the top 20 players in the league also. Liverpool are the current favourites for his signature, and if Coutinho is employed in a deeper role – as he was to such great effect yesterday against West Ham – there is an opening in Klopp’s attack-minded starting 11.
Words of Warning: Real Madrid have scored 100 goals in La Liga this season. That’s 24 more than Chelsea, who have scored the most in the Premier League. Are Isco’s stats just a product of playing against much weaker (relative to Madrid, not necessarily relative to the Premier League) opposition?
Premier League Equivalent: Mesut Ozil; Arsenal. A creative and elegant attacking midfielder whose being disregarded at Real Madrid in favour of more fashionable names, the comparison between Ozil and Isco is obvious. Ozil has provided (either through scoring or assisting) 17 league goals this season, whilst Isco has provided 16.
Midfielder: Yannick Carrasco Team: Atletico Madrid
Reasons for Promise: Carrasco can play on either wing and has been linked with Manchester United in recent weeks – but then, who hasn’t? He’s a tricky winger who isn’t exactly known for tracking back, so whether that signals a change in emphasis by Mourinho, or simply indicates that the transfer is unlikely to happen (at least with United) is unclear. He’s Atletico Madrid’s 3rd top scorer – behind only forwards Griezmann and Gameiro.
Words of Warning: Carrasco has had a good season no question, but he is far from the key piece in the Atletico system. In fact, he is arguably the weak link of an, albeit very good, midfield four. His ability level places him in a difficult predicament: not quite good enough for one of the top, top Premier League clubs (at least to be a regular, 90 minute starter), but he’s too good for anything lower than that (i.e. Everton and Southampton).
Premier League Equivalent: Leroy Sane; Manchester City. They have identical WhoScored ratings (7.01) and both tend to play on the left wing, with the ability to cut inside. Sane is probably more aware of his defensive requirements that Carrasco is, but aside from that, the two share many similarities.
Midfielder: Ivan Perisic Team: Inter Milan
Reasons for Promise: Inter will struggle to keep attacking midfielder Perisic at the club after a woeful season which looks all but certain to end without European football to show for it. The vultures circling include Chelsea, Liverpool, and (shock) Manchester United. He has been the club’s 4th best player according to WhoScored, and is their 2nd top scorer with 10 league goals. He also takes 2.9 shots per game (joint 12th highest in Serie A) – not bad for a midfielder.
Words of Warning: If Perisic was really that good, wouldn’t have one of the truly big teams (this is not the 1990s; Inter Milan are not a big club anymore) come in before he reached 28 years old? He had a couple of good seasons at Wolfsburg, but didn’t do much in his time with Dortmund. The signing would be no sure thing for whoever the buying club is.
Premier League Equivalent: Edin Hazard; Chelsea. Like the Carrasco-Sane comparison, but taken up a notch. Both play predominantly on the left wing, though again, they can play more centrally or on the right when required. Whilst Hazard’s phenomenal season means statistically, Perisic is some way off (7.20 WhoScored rating compared to 7.80, and 10 goals compared to 15 goals), remember Hazard is playing in a title-winning Chelsea team – not a team sitting in 8th place like Perisic is.
Midfielder: Marco Verratti Team: Paris Saint-Germain
Reasons for Promise: Who is Paris Saint-Germain’s best player? Angel Di Maria – leading the assist charts – perhaps? Edinson Cavani – scorer of 35 goals – maybe? Or Julian Draxler – recent £34 million signing – surely? No. None of these. According to WhoScored, by far and away Paris Saint-Germain’s best player this season has been Marco Verratti. In fact, he’s been the best player in the whole of Ligue 1. Very recent reports suggest he will be going to Barcelona or Real Madrid this summer, but the links with Manchester United and Chelsea still persist, so there’s a chance he may yet come to the Premier League. Fingers crossed.
Words of Warning: Kante may be the best midfielder in the Premier League, but there’s a very strong chance he’s available for free in your Togga league. That’s not to say Verratti will be the same, but there’s no denying that his defensive ability makes him a useful candidate for a holding role if a manager feels that is best for the team.
Premier League Equivalent: Ander Herrera; Manchester United. Like Verratti, Herrera often sits deep and dictates play from there, though he does have the ability to push forward and unlock defences if required. Herrera’s PPM (10.44) is very similar to Verratti’s hypothetical one, and his goals (1) and assists (6) match up closely too.
Midfielder: James Rodriguez Team: Real Madrid
Reasons for Promise: 6 goals and 6 assists in 19 games is a very good return, and it would seem Rodriguez is a very efficient attacker, given that his dribbling, shooting, crossing, and passing stats aren’t as high as others in this team. With more game time that would no doubt come from a big money transfer to the Premier League, these numbers should increase even further.
Words of Warning: When a player costing £51 million struggles to make the first team – even if that first team is Real Madrid – then you inevitably question why. It may seem harsh to suggest it, but perhaps Rodriguez isn’t all that he’s hyped up to be. His WhoScored rating goes from 7.33 in La Liga to 6.81 in the Champions League…can he cope against better opposition?
Premier League Equivalent: Kevin De Bruyne; Manchester City. De Bruyne is exactly 2 weeks older than Rodriguez, though their careers have followed distinctly different paths. Whilst the City man seems to be on an upward trajectory, Rodriguez has gone downhill since his electric World Cup performances three years ago. That said, they are both exceptional talents, playing anywhere across the front, and with the ability to both score and make goals.
Substitute: Tiemoue Bakayoko Team: Monaco
Reasons for Promise: The central midfielder has the 22nd highest WhoScored rating in Ligue 1 and at just 22 years of age, he looks like he is only going to get better. Chelsea are apparently the most-likely destination for the youngster, who recently made his debut for France against Spain, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see Arsenal come back in for him after apparently turning down the chance to sign him two years ago. He is Monaco’s best passer and joint second best in the air (of those who have played more than 5 games).
Words of Warning: If Bakayoko does arrive in the Premier League, don’t be tricked by the (undoubtedly) high transfer fee and any hoopla that will accompany it. Even more so than Verratti, Bakayoko is a defensive midfielder whose tackling, aerial ability, and reading of the game are what any big club will be signing him for, not his attacking play. 3 goals and 1 assist in 46 games (all competitions) this season should deter any Togga manager from making him a high draft pick.
Premier League Equivalent: Nemanja Matic; Chelsea. I haven’t seen enough of Bakayoko to make a more subjective comparison, so based on position, hypothetical PPM, and the Chelsea link, Matic seems like a fair assessment. Matic has also won more aerials than any other Chelsea midfielder.
All OPTA data is taken from WhoScored.com. The data provided is not a 100% accurate reflection of Togga scoring, but rather, the best approximation I could make given the difficulty (and time-consuming nature) of finding and calculating the appropriate statistics. Some of these limitations are listed below.
- Dispossessions aren’t included in goalkeeper and defender stats.
- Penalty saves aren’t included in goalkeeper stats.
- The difference between a second yellow cards and a straight red card is not made (as it was unclear to me from the data source used).
- Shots on target are actually shots per game. This is probably the biggest impacting difference, as it will over-play the points contribution considerably. This was done because the shots per game data was more easily accessible than the shots on target data.
- The above difference is also applied to crosses (i.e. successful crosses are actually total crosses).
- All appearances – regardless of how long the player played for – count as 1 appearance. This will influence all the data, as well as stats such as clean sheet bonuses which are based on having to play for a certain length of time. However, it should affect all players equally, and therefore the relative comparisons should still be fair. This was done simply for ease of data collection.
- Positions of players are estimated based on WhoScored’s data. Togga’s classifications next year may be different.