Black Friday was marked by consumer hysteria across the UK last week as shoppers searched for a bargain. When the transfer window opens up next month, there will be an opportunity for football clubs across the UK to pursue deals for new personnel. Clubs are often praised for ‘having a good window’ – meaning that they buy and sell wisely in the transfer market and avoid panic buys. Here I try to identify the best deals in the summer 2014 window.
To provide a basic analysis we need three key pieces of information. 1. Data concerning the number of transfers that took place in the last window. 2. Data that provides a measure of performance for each new signing and 3. Data for the transfer fee paid by the buying club, to a give a proximate measure of what kind of ability we can expect from a player. Data on last of these three variables is the most difficult to acquire as Premier League clubs rarely disclose a transfer fee. Usually we are left with estimates.
1. According the EPL, there was 167 transfers inward to the twenty clubs in the summer 2014 window that closed on the 1st September 2014. This list contains players that moved for a transfer fee, players that transferred on loan deals and players that registered to an EPL club as free agents as they were unattached.
2. Since the start of the season, the performance of these players has been measured by the EPL. The statistics for player performance in the league assess a player's contribution to their team and allocates them performance points based on their proficiency in individual matches. A player is awarded points for positive contributions such as goals scored, direct assists, blocks, clean sheets, shots, clearances, saves and accurate passing. Equally points can be taken away for negative actions such as poor discipline, shots off target and misplaced passes.
3. Finally, an estimate of all the transfer fees is provided (in Euro’s) by the website transfermarkt.com. This website estimates market values and provides data on historical transfer fee's.
Below are three tables of the top performing transfers of the last window in the EPL (as of 2nd of December) - starting with those transferred for a fee (table 1.), followed by loan transfers (table 2.) and finally free transfers (table 3.).
Table 2. In terms of loan deals Southampton have done by far the best business with their loan deal for Ryan Bertrand. Toby Alderweireld also looks good loan business by the Saints. Andre Wisdom's performances for West Brom means that he comes in second on the loan list.
In terms of flops, things are not good for Tottenham; Michel Vorm, Benjamin Stambouli, Federico Fazio, Ben Davies all fall in the bottom 20 performers who were transferred for a fee and have a combined performance total of 7 points but cost the club approximately €34.25m. In terms of the individual ‘big money’ flop Lazar Markovic is the clear candidate, costing Liverpool approximately €25m and amassing a performance score of only 5 points to date. Liverpool and Tottenham have both spent substantially on players who do not get game time in the EPL.
While this analysis is relatively unsophisticated, as I don’t control for time on the field of play, injuries or when a move occurred, we still get an interesting insight, that pretty much corresponds to the court of public opinion - Sanchez, Fabregas, Costa and Di Maria have all been successful signings for their respective clubs so far.