I like to consider the Moneyball idea on a recurring basis in football. I’ve done different versions of it over the years on this blog. Sheffield United and Tottenham were past examples, who, at the time, were punching well above their weight. This wasn’t sustained (as was the case in the original Moneyball context).
It’s Atalanta’s turn now. The Serie A side take the Moneyball honour based on last year’s Serie A performances. With a budget of just 3.74m they finished third with 78 points and qualified for the Champions League. Sassuolo headed in that direction too, reaching 62 points with a budget of just 3.56m.
The chart below plots the relationship between points accrued in Serie A 20/21 and annual budgets. As is nearly always the case, 'doing a Moneyball' doesn't lead to silverware, but it is a signal of strong performance in terms of club organization, recruitment etc. Atalanta were a little unlucky losing in the final of the Coppia Italia.
The question is did Atalanta get lucky with the recruitment of talented players? If yes, then major clubs will target their squad (as Tottenham recently did with Cristian Romero), if not, I'm guessing major clubs will target their staff.