Players with a point to prove

5 – Joelinton:

The 22-year-old became Newcastle’s most expensive signing this summer. His £40 million move to St. James’ Park has put pressure on him to provide the goals since Perez has been sold for £30 million and Newcastle didn’t make the Rondon move permanent. Last season Joelinton scored 7 and assisted 5 from 2136 minutes in the Bundesliga as Hoffenheim finished 9th. This is from an xG of 8.93 and an xA of 5.15, as he finished about 2 goals under his xG it shows his finishing could do with a bit of work. This give Joelinton per 90 an xG of 0.37 and an xA of 0.22 giving him 0.59 expected direct goal involvements per 90. This will drop at Newcastle.

At Hoffenheim, Julian Nagelsmann has supercharged everyone’s attacking numbers which led to Hoffenheim having the third best attack and the second best according to xG. At Newcastle, the Brazilian will be leading the frontline in a more defensive and pragmatic side for a worse manager. If Joelinton has 2/3 goals by Christmas, he will be written off by the media. Newcastle are likely to get relegated this season especially with their downgrade in manager especially as Steve Bruce in the past has said “I’m not really into tactics” and it shows. If or when Newcastle get relegated, Joelinton could move on for around £15 million and show his skills at a better side.

4 – Christian Benteke:

In 2017/18, Benteke scored 3 goals from an xG of 11.17 and in 2018/19, his solo goal came at the Emirates. In 2018/19, he had an xG 3.73 of despite only getting 1 goal all campaign. 4 goals in 2032 minutes from a total xG of 14.9 isn’t the £32 million striker Crystal Palace thought they had bought back in 2016. With Palace making the loan deal permanent for Jordan Ayew who scored 1 in 1187 minutes and with the potential Zaha exit, Benteke has to step up or Crystal Palace could be in a relegation fight.

Despite his goal tally and Hodgson’s defensive tactics, Benteke’s stats were still Premier League average but they have been in decline since 2016/17, his first season in London. His shots, key passes and dribbles have all been in decline which has led to a decline in his game time. With Ayew and a third-choice keeper being Palace’s only signings despite Wan-Bissaka being sold for £50 million, Roy Hodgson might have to replace Benteke if he can’t find his old form this season.

3 – Tyrone Mings:

Aston Villa’s club record signing for a reported £26.5 million, Mings will have to maintain his from last season. However, at Bournemouth Mings couldn’t make the step up to the Premier League. Since his transfer from Ipswich in 2015, Mings has made 17 Premier Leagu appearances in 3 and a half seasons which totalled 863 minutes. This is less than he featured for Villa in his half season at Villa Park as he started 18 matches and played 1590 minutes. The lack of game time for the Cherries has been down to two separated injuries which side-lined him for a total of 608 days as he missed 81 Premier League games.

Despite Eddie Howe deploying quite expansive and attacking football, Mings’ stats drastically decrease in the Premier League. In his last season at Ipswich, he averaged 4.9 tackles and interceptions whilst at Bournemouth, the best he averaged was 2.1. At Villa, he averaged 2.1 but as he will be facing tougher opposition, this should increase as they will be attacked against more. Tyrone is clearly a very good championship defender but is very much unproven in the Premier League due to injuries and poor performances when he was on the pitch. A risk for Villa as he lacks Premier League experience and has had two major injuries, Mings has to repay the faith Dean Smith has put in him to give Aston Villa the best chance of survival.

2– Wesley Moares:

Another big money risk for Villa, Wesley is yet to play in a top league but does carry a bit of experience in the Europa League and Champions League. He hasn’t really performed in the Belgian league as in 76 matches he has scored 19 and assisted 13. For a player coming from the Belgian league to the Premier League, you would expect more especially as he is replacing Tammy Abraham who scored 26 for the Villans. Apart from Wesley, their only other recognised strikers are Kodjia and Hogan, both adequate Championship strikers that will struggle in the Premier League.

Wesley will have the goalscoring burden on his shoulders which is a risk. This is a risk as he was the main striker at Club Brugge in a weaker league for a more dominant side, yet he still couldn’t set the league on fire. Wesley will struggle but at a young age, if The Claret and Blues want to cut their losses, they could recoup around £20 million for him next summer.

1 – Eden Hazard:

Real Madrid’s biggest signing in 2019, Hazard will have to prove he is worth the reported £130 million. Having sealed his dream move, the Belgian will have to change his play style to fit what Real Madrid require from him. The natural ball progressor attempted 5.5 dribbles as he completed 3.7 which gives a huge success rate of 67.3% during 2018/19 as Chelsea finished third. As Real Madrid have two of the best five ball progressors in Spain with Kroos and Modrić, Hazard won’t be required to do as much ball progression despite Modrić turning 34 in September. At 28-years-old, it will be difficult for him to change his ways.

Hazard, along with Luka Jović, will be expected to score the goals. In 2018/19, Hazard scored a healthy 16 goals in an attacking Chelsea side. Although 16 goals sounds very good, a quarter of them were penalties which he may not be taking at Real Madrid. Instantly, 12 goals from open play doesn’t sound as impressive. He did get 15 assists showing his creative nous but with Isco, Rodríguez, Marcelo, Vinícius and more, creativity is something Real Madrid has in abundance. Since 2014/15, Hazard has over performed his xG every season showing an ability to finish but will have to adapt to be more selfish. In his last season at Lille, 2011/12, he scored 20 goals, his highest scoring season, which would show his goal scoring ability but 9 of them came from penalties.

xG explained

In previous posts I have mentioned xG and xA but not everyone knows what they are, xG is expected goals and xA is expected assists but what do they mean?

In basic, xG measures the quality of shot being taken and the probability of it going in (out of 1). A simple xG model can be created just by the location of the shot. A sophisticated model takes a lot more factors into account. These factors can include like the type of shoot (if it came from the foot or a head), if the player went round the goalkeeper, if the pass that led the shot was a cutback or a through ball, the speed of the attack that led to the shot (as a shot coming from a counter attack has a better chance of going in) and more. A lot of different factors go into deciding how good of a chance it actually was and creating the shot’s xG.

Straight away, the advantage of xG is crystal clear. If you just look at number of shots, there’s no way to know if they’ve been shooting from 40 yards or getting on the end of good chances in the box, you can’t tell if they’re Mauro Icardi or André Schürrle.

If you have xG data, you can tell a lot more about a player especially for scouts. If a scout sees a player has had a lot of shots, they might want to investigate the player further. However, if they’re all from 30 yards out then it could mean a few things. This could show that they lack match intelligence or they lack the skill to get closer to goal, this would make a scout more sceptical about the player.

This is the same for chances created, xA. For example, if a midfielder plays 4 long balls into the box and the striker wins all 4 balls and gets an attempt on goal with all of them. The midfielder will be credited with 4 key passes. However, if a midfielder plays 4 through balls and his striker gets onto the end of them and gets a shot off after each long ball, he will also be credited with 4 key passes. If the shots were taken in the same areas, the midfielder that played the through balls will have the higher xA. This is because it is more difficult to score from a header, so the headers are less likely to be scored, a lower xG. The chance created was better by the midfielder that played the through balls, that’s why he has the higher xA. If a scout looked at this, they could tell who the better creator is.

Some people oppose xG as they believe there is too much data in the game, and it takes away from the enjoyment of football. However, as football fans it is intuitive, and we already do it. If your team creates a lot of chances and the opposition’s goalkeeper saves everything. The opposition then scored a goal from 35 yards. When you talk about that game with your friends, you’ll say you were unlucky to lose. That’s xG in a very basic way. You’re rating how good your opportunities were in comparison to the opposition’s and using it to determine who deserved to win. That in essence is xG.

But why is xG important? Well, as weird as it sounds, xG is actually far better at telling us how good a player or a team is than actual goals scored and goals conceded. Occasionally a team or a player will have a purple patch in which they finish every chance they have, or a goalkeeper saves everything like David De Gea in 2017/18. The xG model shows if a team can consistently perform well and create high quality chances. Over the course of a season, xG tends to balance out but obviously not always in a game as anything can happen in a game. That’s why xG can be used to portray the true sequence of events rather than just the outcome.

Of course, xG isn’t perfect, it’s just the best tool to determine how good a player or team are. But what are some of the problems? Well, every shot from as far back as data goes is used. For example, every shot from the left corner of the box is used to determine the probability of a future shot from that same position goes in. The problem with that is that it doesn’t distinguish between good and bad finishers or long shot takers that we know exist such as Coutinho. This model is objective to who is taking the shot. There are very few players that consistently out perform their xG which does show that finishing ability isn’t as important as first thought. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo is a well renowned clinical finisher however, since 2014/15 he has only over performed his xG once. Another clinical finisher in Robert Lewandowski runs pretty much level with xG apart from 2018/19. This does suggest that the xG model is very accurate. This does change what is valued in a striker as Lewandowski and Ronaldo are both elite strikers and yet they run pretty much level with xG. This shows we shouldn’t value finishing as much but more their ability to get on the end of the chances.

Another problem with xG is that it doesn’t take into consideration the positioning of defenders as there isn’t the data for how many players are in between the goal and the player taking the shot. This is why they have things like the through balls and counter attacks built into the model as a rough way of telling where the defence is and how much pressure the shooter is under. This problem is why managers like Dyche or Favre, teams who like to block most shots consistently out-perform xG defensively. This is becuase their team block a lot of shots and xG can’t tell that those shots are a lot harder to finish even if they weren’t being blocked.

The best players running down their contracts

10 – João Moutinho:

The Portuguese midfielder is coming off a very impressive season with Wolves as he helped the newly promoted side finish 7th and get to the FA Cup semi-finals. João Moutinho was ever present in the Premier League as he started 35 matches and made 3 more appearances from the bench meaning he featured in 38 of the 38 matches. This is remarkable even before taking into consideration he turns 33 in September.

In his 3040 Premier League minutes, Moutinho liked to be part of everything. He averaged 4.1 tackles and interceptions and 49 passes with a pass accuracy of 84.8%. This shows he can win the ball and recycle possession for his side to keep things ticking over. However, he also averaged 2.2 key passes and 3.3 long balls which highlight his adventurous passing which explains the relatively low pass accuracy.

9 – Giorgio Chiellini:

Chiellini has been a mainstay in Juventus’ defence for over 10 years and is still regarded as one of the best centre backs in the world. This experience could be invaluable for any team especially a young side such as Ajax. The 103 capped Italian has slowly been given less game time as he’s got older as Juventus look to life after Chiellini. During 2018/19, Giorgio played 1990 minutes and averaged 2.2 tackles and interceptions per 90.

This does sound low, but Juventus tends to dominate possession more and Chiellini plays as a more reserved defender rather than a proactive one. This is also shown by his 53.4 passes which does include 4.4 long balls with an 84.9% pass accuracy. With the national side, this does increase as he averages 96 passes, 6.3 long balls with an 91.7% pass accuracy. Although his decrease from his prime is evident, his stats show he is still a top performer is his fitness and game time is looked after.

8 – Keylor Navas:

Goalkeepers are difficult to judge from their stats. This is down to if they play for a small club, they’ll face a lot of shots, so they’ll make more saves and concede more. But if they play for a big club, they’ll make less saves and concede less. Keylor has performed for both which shows his qualities. Since the arrival of Thibaut Courtois, Navas’ game time has decreased drastically. In 2017/18, the Costa Rican played 2430 minutes, however this fell to 900 minutes in 2018/19.

The former Levante man averaged 2.3 saves with 1.2 of them coming from shots inside the box. He also has a pass accuracy of 75% as he completes 23.6 passes. Marc-André ter Stegen is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he averaged 2.4 saves with 1.4 coming from shots inside the box. This shows Navas is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world and would be a great free transfer for any side that needs a goalkeeper even with him turning 33-years-old in December.

7 – Toby Alderweireld:

Despite interest from all over Europe and a buyout clause of £25 million that expired last week, Toby looks to remain a Tottenham player. This is good news for Tottenham as his partnership with Vertonghen is formidable. The former Southampton loanee played 2924 minutes in 2018/19 for the Lily Whites and he averaged 1.8 defensive actions per 90.

Although these aren’t huge numbers, Tottenham tend to dominate possession and box teams in. This is backed up by them averaging the fourth highest possession. Alderweireld completed 69.4 with a pass accuracy of 88.5%. These aren’t safe passes, he attempts 12 long balls per 90, 7.1 are accurate which shows great range with his passing with great accuracy.

6 – Ilkay Gündogan:

Pep Guardiola’s first signing at Man City, Gündogan’s game time has decreased due to injuries and elite level midfielders. However, when Fernandinho got injured towards the end of 2018/19, Ilkay filled in at defensive midfield for the Citizens. This highlights his wide range of skills as not only is it a very difficult role, but also it’s not his own role. Ilkay started 23 Premier League matches last campaign and made a further 8 appearances off the bench. This shows he still has a pivotal role.

Ilkay completed 1.5 tackles and interceptions as Man City defended their Premier League crown. But as City averaged the most possession, 4.1% more than second best Chelsea. Although this is considerably lower then Fernandinho’s 3.4 tackles and interceptions, that is down to Fernandinho playing as the defensive midfielder all season whilst Gündogan only featured there a couple of times. With Ilkay’s amazing pass accuracy of 90.8%, he can keep play ticking over. With his skillset, he would be a great addition for any side.

5 – Jan Vertonghen:

The other half of the formidable partnership at the heart of Tottenham’s side, Jan is also in the last year of his contract. The Belgian may be 32-years-old but he is still a top performer for a top club. Despite his age, the former Ajax start still clocked up 1915 minutes which shows age doesn’t really affect his fitness. He managed to play 1915 minutes at centre back but also played at left back, in the modern game full back is more physically demanding than ever which really highlights his fitness.

Jan averaged 3.3 tackles and interceptions showing he is the more proactive centre back. But Jan is also very involved in play as he averages 69.6 passes with a pass accuracy of 87.5%. This is very similar to Alderweireld’s passing numbers as he averaged 69.4 passes with a pass accuracy of 88.5%. As Toby is regarded as one of the best passing centre backs in world football, this is a huge compliment to Jan.

4 – Timo Werner:

The versatile forward is entering the last year of his contract. With Nagelsmann at the helm, he could be persuaded to stay but with Liverpool and Bayern Munich after him, his decision might already be made. Timo has been brought into the limelight since joining RB Leipzig from Stuttgart as since getting promoted, Leipzig have been challenging towards the top end of the table. Werner has played a big part in Leipzig’s success as he has scored consistently. In 2525 minutes during the 2018/19 season the former Stuttgart man scored 16 and assisted 7 which meant he was his teams’ top scorer and equal top provider as Forsberg also got 7 assists. These numbers are about on par with what is expected as his xG was 17.38 and his xA was 5.61 which is an expected 22.99 direct goal involvements and he ended the season on 23.

As Leipzig finished third behind the dominant Bavarians and the lucky Dortmund, Werner had another impressive season. Werner takes a high 3.6 shots with only 0.4 from outside the box per 90 which highlights his maturity as his shot location is with the elite. Werner is also creative as highlighted by his 7 assists, he averaged 1.2 key passes per 90 which doesn’t sound too impressive but for a predatory striker that’s taking 3.6 shots, this is very high. He emulates aspects of Icardi as the Argentine averaged 2.5 shots with 0.3 from outside the box caveated with 1.2 key passes, and like Icardi, Werner isn’t involved much in build-up play. The Stuttgart academy graduate averaged 25.5 passes with a 74.2% pass accuracy which is very low even for a forward. Like passing. Timo isn’t great at dribbling, he completes 1 dribble per 90 but fails 1.7 per 90. His passing and dribbling abilities highlights why he doesn’t get involved in build-up play and why Leipzig play counter attacking football, therefore Werner thrives there.

3 – Fernandinho:

The Brazilian has become an invaluable cog in Pep’s system which is one of the biggest compliments in world football. Fernandinho started 27 Premier League matches as he had 4 injuries between December and April. This is the only way he has shown his age as his performances have got better under Pep despite being over 30 years old. With the signing of Rodri, this puts less pressure on Fernandinho.

In his 2382 minutes, Fernandinho averaged 3.4 tackles and interceptions. For a side that averaged 64% possession, that is a huge defensive contribution. He completed 70.7 passes which included 0.8 key passes and 2.7 long balls showing some variety in his passing. The former Shakhtar Donetsk star maintained a pass accuracy of 87.5%. These stats show why Pep Guardiola uses Fernandinho like he used Sergio Busquets as he is used to break up play and keep play ticking over.

2 – Christian Eriksen:

The Dane has been Tottenham’s chief creator under Pochettino as highlighted by his 12 assists and key passes per 90. These key pass numbers are bloated by him taking set pieces which create chances f worse quality than those in open play. This is also shown in his shooting stats. He takes 2.4 shots with 1.7 coming from outside the box. The poor shot location is down to Eriksen being on set pieces as well as him fancying himself to score from range.

At 27-years-old, Eriksen has entered his peak years and has another few years left at the top level. Amid interest from Real Madrid for the playmaker as a supposed heir to Modrić role, this could be Christian’s least season in North London. Despite the interest, Pochettino has kept Eriksen as a key player for Tottenham as he started 30 Premier League matches and made a further 5 appearances from the bench. During 2018/19 he clocked up 2772 minutes in which he got 20 direct goal involvements showing his importance to the Lily Whites.

1 – David De Gea:

Arguably still the best goalkeeper in the world, David De Gea is entering the last year of his contract at Old Trafford. De Gea has put in many key performances that has won Man United many points. During 2018/19, Man United conceded 54. Although this is nothing to gloat about by any means, this was a Mourinho third year in which everything collapsed followed by Solskjær’s attacking approach. Man United have been poor since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013. The only constant throughout the following years has been the defence. De Gea has had to play behind incapable defenders but still kept the Red Devils in and around the top 4 which has earnt him interest from Real Madrid and PSG. Ole has offered the shot stopper a new contract that will reportedly earn him £400k a week, if he signs the contract then Man United are sure to keep their excellent keeper for years to come. If he doesn’t sign the contract, they risk losing the Spaniard for free and are dealt with a huge task of replacing him during their rebuild which would be another unnecessary problem.

The best under-21 players in Europe’s top 5 leagues

10 – Kai Havertz, 20-years-old:

A player that really flourished under Peter Bosz’s new implemented system. Haverz, like Dele Alli and Antoine Griezmann, is a rare kind of player as he plays as a second striker. Due to his position being very rare within football at current, his price has been inflated from an already high price due to his attacking qualities at such a young age. Kai is coming off a season in which he scored 17 and got 3 assists which meant he ended the 2018/19 season as the equal third top goal scorer. The German took 2.6 shots with 0.8 from outside the box which highlights his maturity especially at such a young age however, his xG was 11.99 which either highlight he got the rub of the green or he is a clinical finisher. As in his last 2 seasons/his first 2 seasons he’s been in line with his xG, it would suggest he got luck but due to his age, it might have been his breakthrough season.

Havertz is not just a goal scorer, he also had 1 key pass and 1.4 successful dribbles per 90 showing good awareness and variety to his game. Kai is also a good passer as he has a pass accuracy of 87.2% which is very high for an attacking player especially in the Bundesliga as most sides play with high intensity and whilst applying a lot of pressure to the opposition. Another key attribute for him is his fitness as during 2018/19, he made 34 appearances which included 33 league starts and he played 94.8% of the league minutes available which could be another factor that could drive his price up even further.

9 – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21-years-old:

Aaron only got game time at Crystal Palace due injuries towards the end of 2017/18, he took his opportunity. In 2018/19 the Englishman really made his name with his defensive solidity. The now Man United player started 35 matches which totalled in 3135 minutes in the Premier League for his breakout season. He averaged 6.1 tackles and interceptions during 2018/19 whilst only averaging 0.7 fouls, this is very low for someone that is completing a lot of defensive actions.

Wan-Bissaka is not only very defensively solid but can also transition the ball forward and create chances for his team mates. The defensive powerhouse completed 1.7 dribbles out of 2.5 giving him a success rate of 68% which is very high considering his age, position and the system he plays in. To caveat this, he creates 0.4 chances per 90 which led to him getting 3 assists. These offensive numbers will increase, and we’ll see a decrease in his defensive actions at Man United unless they go all-out attack and hope Aaron Wan-Bissaka mops everything up defensively.

8 – Marcus Rashford, 21-years-old:

Another English 21-year-old at Man United to make this list, the future could be bright for the Red Devils. Marcus Rashford is bound to be Man United’s main man upfront under Ole and this trust is sure to be repaid. This is a player who only got his chance due to injuries and lack of depth for Man United in 2015/16 under Van Gaal, Rashford has done well to remain in the first team for the seasons following due to him taking his chances when he starts as well as his work ethic, this and him coming through Man United’s youth academy has made him a fan favourite at Old Trafford. He played 2345 minutes during the 2018/19 season and in those minutes he played all along the front line showing his versatility and desire to play.

In his 2345 he scored 10 and got 6 assists, his xG was 11.61 and his xA was 5.27 so he was about on track for his goal contributions. This is because he averaged 2.5 shots (1.1 from outside the box which is good for an attacker of his age but clear room for improvement in the decision making), 1.2 key passes, 1.3 dribbles with a 50% success rate which led to him drawing 1.6 fouls and 20.2 passes with a 78.1% pass accuracy. The shot location, dribble success rate and pass accuracy show he requires an improvement in decision making if he wants to take his game to the next level, but the rest of his numbers are very promising for the 21-year-old. A lot of pressure will be put on his shoulders but as shown by his penalty v PSG to send Man United through to the next round in the Champions League, he can deal with pressure.

7 – Federico Chiesa, 21-years-old:

A bright light for Fiorentina as they faltered towards the end of the season. This falter meant their last league win was on the 17th of February which led to a 16th placed finish, 3 points off relegation. The 21-year-old has been subject of a move from the Artemio Franchi Stadium to Juventus and after 2018/19, it is clear why clubs want him. During 2018/19, Federico played 3038 minutes showing his importance despite his age. In these minutes he scored 6 and assisted 3 for La Viola. As impressive as this is, his xG was 9.37 and his xA was 5.67 meaning per 90 they were 0.28 and 0.17 respectively. This shows great promise especially in a disappointing side.

He took 3.6 shots which is very high but 1.7 come from outside the box. With a good manager his shot location would improve but you’d also hope it improves with age. He can also be the chief creator for his side as he averaged 1.5 key passes and 2.1 completed dribbles. However, he has a dribble success rate of 43.8% which will improve with age as his decision-making will. This is also shown with his 72.1% pass accuracy. Chiesa has shown great promise but in a better side and as he gets older, his dribble success rate and pass accuracy will improve.

6 – Marcus Thuram, 21-years-old:

Marcus is the son of Lilian Thuram, winner of the 1998 World Cup. He carried an uninspiring Guimgamp attack who only scored 28 goals during the 2018/19 season. Thuram contributed 9 goals and 1 assist, this meant he was directly involved in 35.7% of their goals. However as impressive as this, according to understat’s model for expected goals (xG), he should’ve scored 10.62 and had 2.56 assists. This puts him on 0.46 expected goal contributions per 90 for a side that finished last in Ligue 1 and only averaged 0.74 goals per 90. If had hit his expected values, he would’ve been directly involved of 62% of their goals.

 The 21-year-old (turns 22 in August) played off the left during the 2018/19 season but can also play as a striker and could learn to play off the right. At 6’2” he can also a be an aerial threat showing he is very versatile as he is also lightning quick when running with the ball. In their relegation campaign, Thuram played 2583 minutes showing great fitness and consistency. However, he got sent off twice which highlight his age and he needs a manager to help him with discipline.

5 – Houssem Aouar, 21-years-old:

An indispensable cog for Lyon, Aouar started 35 matches and made a couple more appearances from the bench meaning he made an appearance in 37 of the 38 league matches which totalled in 3069 minutes. In these minutes, the midfielder scored seven and assisted seven in just his second season of regular football. His 14 direct goal contributions meant he was directly involved in 20% of Lyon’s goals from midfield.

The Frenchman can do more is a handful for the opposition due to his versatility and well-rounded game. During 2018/19 he played as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder and even as a left winger. In his 3069 minutes, he averaged 2.6 tackles and interceptions which caveated with his attributes going forward and it’s easy to see why he’s well sought after. He also averaged 1.9 shots with a high 0.8 from outside the box, 1.2 key passes, 1.6 dribbles completed with a 61.5% pass accuracy and 55.6 passes with a pass accuracy of 68.7%. Those stats show why he is one to watch as they’re only going to improve with age and a better manager.

4 – Trent Alexander-Arnold, 20-years-old:

The Champions League winner is coming off a huge season with Liverpool as they lost the league by 1 point as they reached 97 points (despite the luck in xG) but Trent got many plaudits for his very impressive season for the Reds in which he scored 1 and got 12 assists which broke a record for defender with most assists in a Premier League season, his xG was 1.49 and his xA was 7.22 so he got the rub of the green when creating chances along with Andy Robertson’ but that’s what happens when they’re creating chances for their elite front three but both of their assists will drop next season along with Liverpool’s points tally.

In the league, he played 2467 minutes as he averaged 3.3 tackles and interceptions, 1 shot (0.8 from outside the box), 1.7 key passes (Trent takes corners so that boosts his key passes) along with 58.5 passes with a 77.5% pass accuracy per 90. The shot location is poor due to him being a defender, but the pass accuracy is low as he’s constantly trying to progress the ball forward with vertical forward passes which is backed up by him completing 4 long balls from 8.9 long balls per 90.

3 – Jadon Sancho, 19-years-old:

The Englishman has had a breakthrough season during 2018/19. Jadon started the league campaign as a bench player but after impressing coming off the bench he was given a starting role which meant he started 26 games with 8 substitute appearances resulting in him playing 2464 minutes. He scored 12 goals and topped the Bundesliga assist charts with 14. However, xG has him at 7.42 and xA at 8.31 which shows considerate luck but the whole Dortmund had luck as they nearly stopped Bayern Munich’s stronghold on the Bundesliga. Despite the rub of the green, per 90 his xG is 0.27 and xA is 0.3 which would result in a very impressive 0.57 expected direct goal involvements per 90, yet he only turns 20 in March 2020.

Jadon’s shot numbers aren’t very high as he only averages 1.2 per 90 but with his xG as high as it is, this shows he is decisive and makes good decisions as backed up with his shot location, only 0.3 shots from outside the box per 90. Sancho is also very creative with 1.9 key passes, but his main attribute is his ability on the ball. The former Man City winger has a pass accuracy of 84.9% which is high for an attacking player, but he completes 3.3 dribbles out of 5.5 attempted per 90 giving him a success rate of 60%. Sancho prominently plays off the right but has also played on the left for the German outfit which highlights his versatility.

2 – Matthijs De Ligt, 19-years-old:

Matthijs De Ligt is a newcomer to Italy. He joined Champions Juventus from Ajax for a reported £67.5 million as he became Juventus’ and the league’s third most expensive signing with only Higuaín and Ronaldo surpassing his fee. De Ligt was ever present for Ajax in 2018/19 as De Ligt captained them to win the domestic double and reach the Champions League semi-final. In the Eredivisie he started 33 of the 34 matches which totalled in 2970 minutes. He scored 3 and assisted 1 in his 33 matches.

Matthijs averaged 2.1 tackles and interceptions showing he is sturdy at the back even in a ball dominant side. De Ligt averaged 68.5 passes whilst maintaining a 90% pass accuracy and attempted 0.3 dribbles with a 100% pass accuracy which will decrease in a more competitive league. These stats show he is composed on the ball and has good decision making. The Dutch international is also a handful offensively. He takes 1.5 shots with 0.4 coming from outside the box which is good shot location for a centre back especially at his age, but he also creates 0.4 chances so can get a few assists in a season.

1 – Kylian Mbappé, 20-years-old:

Kylian is an elite player and a world superstar, the best part is he’s only 20. Mbappé only played 2344 minuutes due to Tuchel rotating the squad a lot, but in these minutes the Frenchman scored 33 and assisted 7. This means Mbappé averaged scoring or assisting a goal every 58.6 minutes, close to two direct goal contributions per 90. The 20-year-old did all this whilst playing in numerous positions which included striker, attacking midfield and both wings.

Arguably the third best player in the world, behind Ronaldo and Messi, Kylian took 4.3 shots per 90 last season with 0.7 coming from outside the box highlighting his maturity in decision making despite his age. The World Cup winner also created 1.6 chances and 2.2 dribbles which shows he can play different roles within each position and that he is ready for his dream move to Real Madrid. c

The best under 23 Ligue 1 players

10 – Joachim Andersen, 23-years-old:

The 2018/19 season earnt Andersen a move from Sampdoria to Lyon. During 2018/19, Joachim started 32 matches and played a total of 2,880 minutes as Sampdoria conceded 51 goals, the ninth best in the league. The Danish centre back averaged 2.4 defensive actions (tackles and interceptions) as he played as the more conservative centre back in the 2-man partnership.

Andersen can do more than just defend, he wins 2.3 aerial duels, the second best in the Sampdoria squad and would’ve been the third best in the Lyon squad during 2018/19. This aerial ability can be utilised in set pieces both defensively and offensively. Joachim is very composed and comfortable on the ball, he averaged 63.4 passes which included 0.3 key passes and 5.9 long balls whilst maintaining a pass accuracy of 88.8%.

9 – Aleksandr Golovin, 23-years-old:

The Russian made a name for himself in the 2018 World Cup as in 402 minutes, he scored once and assisted twice. This World Cup put him in the shop window for many top clubs before he made the decision to move to Les Rouges et Blancs. During 2018/19, Golovin played in many positions highlighting his versatility and desire to play. These positions include attacking midfield, central midfield, defensive midfield, striker and on both wings. With Monaco he played 2301 league minutes in which he still impressed despite Monaco faltering and finishing 17th.

Aleksandr is a well-rounded player that is involved in all aspects of play. He averages 1.9 tackles and interceptions, this isn’t that high due to most of his minutes coming in more attacking positions and Monaco having more possession. The former CSKA Moscow midfielder attempts 1.7 dribbles and maintains a success rate of 71.4%. Although his dribbling is very impressive, his pass accuracy is at a low 82.3% which tends to improve with age.

8 – Lucas Tousart, 22-years-old:

During 2018/19, he started 20 matches and made a further 10 substitute appearances showing his importance to Lyon. Lucas averages 3.4 defensive actions per 90 caveated with 32.6 passes which highlights his role to Lyon. His role is to break up play and recycle possession. This is backed up by his 87.3% pass accuracy and only 0.3 dribbles, this also shows he prefers to progress the ball through passing rather than through dribbling.

Tousart also performs in tournament football as well as in the league. He started 4 matches for France in the under-21 Euros which totalled to 311 minutes. In these 4 matches he averaged 2.6 tackles and interceptions which decreased from his Lyon form due to the France side being more possession heavy side. This is also shown in his increase in passing, he averaged 35.5 passes with a pass accuracy of 93%. Both sets of stats who he is versatile in fitting into different systems.

7 – Allan Saint-Maximin, 22-years-old:

Just like Golovin, Saint-Maxim has played in a few different positions throughout 2018/19. He played mainly as a striker but also on both wings and even as a left wingback for Nice. This shows his versatility and ability to adapt quickly to help his team. The former Monaco man was crucial to Vieira’s side as he started 34 matches which meant he played 2914 minutes in which he scored 6 and assisted 3. However, his xG was 7.45 and his xA finished at 6.64 showing he was unlucky but still had a very impressive season. Patrick Vieira’s side was very defensive which led to them having the third worst attack as they only scored 30 goals, 2 more better than the worst attacking side, Guingamp.

Although Allan often neglects his defensive duties, as he averages 0.5 tackles and interceptions per 90, he is clearly very talented but with the right manager he would offer more defensively. As predicted, it’s offensively where he shines. The former ASSE player takes 2.2 shots, 1.1 from outside the box means his shot location need improvement which is something that again could improve with the right manager but will also improve with age and match experience. Saint-Maximin is not only a finisher, he is also a creator. He creates 1.7 chances whilst attempting 7.4 dribbles at a success rate of 56.8% means he completed a huge 4.2 dribbles per 90.

6 – Youcef Atal, 23-years-old:

A relatively unknown player, Youcef is a very versatile player as although he is prominently a right back, he can also play in other positions. These extra positions include wingback and on either wing. During 2018/19, the Algerian played 2261 minutes and scored 6 goals, although 3 did come in a 3-0 win against Guingamp. He isn’t just a goalscorer, he is a strong defensive player who averages 4.2 defensive actions.

Due to these strong defensive actions and his height being 5’9”, Atal could play as a wide centre back in a back 3 or in a back 5 showing further versatility. The former Paradou player contributes well going forward. He takes 1.2 shots with 0.3 coming from outside the box, this is caveated with his creative skills. His creative skills are shown by his 0.8 key passes and 3.5 dribbles which earnt him an xA of 2.50 in a very defensive side.

5 – Abdou Diallo, 23-years-old:

The 2018/19 season was a very impressive season for Abdou which earnt him a move to PSG. The Frenchman played a total of 2381 minutes in the Bundesliga for Dortmund as they came just short of winning the title. The young defender is a centre back by nature but has also featured at left back for Favre. Diallo averages 2.4 tackles and interceptions which is lower than you’d expect for a top defender. However, this is down to Dortmund having a lot of possession and the midfielders also contributing heavily in regaining possession.

Abdou is very composed on the ball which is an attribute that is now well sought after in the modern game. The former Mainz star averages 64.9 passes with a pass accuracy of 89%. These passes include some adventurous ones as he attempts 7.2 long balls with 4.6 being accurate showing a range of skills in his passing. As well as passing, Diallo is very good at dribbling. He attempts 1.9 and succeeds with 1.4 of them giving him a success rate of 73.7% showing he knows when to take his man on.

4 – Ismaila Sarr, 21-years-old:

Sarr is coming off his breakout season despite 2017/18 still being very strong but last season he was given more responsibility and shone with it. In 2018/19 he played 2795 minutes in which he scored 8 as he took 1.5 shots. 0.5 of his shots came from outside the box, his shot location is good for such a young player but with Senegal at AFCON he took 1.6 shots per 90 with all of them coming from inside the box which shows it may be a managerial issue at Rennes.

Sarr has more to him than just goalscorer. The Senegalese winger got 6 assists but his xA was at 7.30 showing a bit of poor finishing from his team mates. Ismaila averages 1.1 key passes with 1.8 completed dribbles with a success rate of 48.6%, this is sure to improve with age, but it is promising that he has good end product (goals and assists) coming from his dribbles as many younger players lack the end product.

3 – Presnel Kimpembe, 23-years-old:

A bit of a forgotten young star, Kimpembe has been a consistent performer for PSG under Thomas Tuchel. However, with Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Thilo Kehrer all also at PSG, gametime has to be shared at centreback and with the arrival of Abdou Diallo, that won’t be changing. Kimpembe started 23 matches and made a further appearance from the bench which meant he played 2006 minutes in Tuchel’s first season in France. The World Cup didn’t score any goals but did get an assist in league play showing he doesn’t really offer much offensively.

However, despite the lack of ability offensively, defensively he is very strong. Presnel averaged 3.6 tackles and interceptions per 90 which is exceptionally high since PSG dominate possession. PSG averaged the most possession per game, 2.2% more than second best. Whilst doing a lot defensively, Kimpembe is very composed on the ball. During 2018/19 he averaged 60.9 passes with an incredibly high pass accuracy of 93.6%.

2 – Houssem Aouar, 21-years-old:

An indispensable cog for Lyon, Aouar started 35 matches and made a couple more appearances from the bench meaning he made an appearance in 37 of the 38 league matches which totalled in 3069 minutes. In these minutes, the midfielder scored seven and assisted seven in just his second season of regular football. His 14 direct goal contributions meant he was directly involved in 20% of Lyon’s goals from midfield.

The Frenchman can do more is a handful for the opposition due to his versatility and well-rounded game. During 2018/19 he played as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder and even as a left winger. In his 3069 minutes, he averaged 2.6 tackles and interceptions which caveated with his attributes going forward and it’s easy to see why he’s well sought after. He also averaged 1.9 shots with a high 0.8 from outside the box, 1.2 key passes, 1.6 dribbles completed with a 61.5% pass accuracy and 55.6 passes with a pass accuracy of 68.7%. Those stats show why he is one to watch as they’re only going to improve with age and a better manager.

1 – Kylian Mbappé, 20-years-old:

The most obvious player on this list, Kylian is an elite player and a world superstar, the best part is he’s only 20. Mbappé only played 2344 minuutes due to Tuchel rotating the squad a lot, but in these minutes the Frenchman scored 33 and assisted 7. This means Mbappé averaged scoring or assisting a goal every 58.6 minutes, close to two direct goal contributions per 90. The 20-year-old did all this whilst playing in numerous positions which included striker, attacking midfield and both wings.

Arguably the third best player in the world, behind Ronaldo and Messi, Kylian took 4.3 shots per 90 last season with 0.7 coming from outside the box highlighting his maturity in decision making despite his age. The World Cup winner also created 1.6 chances and 2.2 dribbles which shows he can play different roles within each position and that he is ready for his dream move to Real Madrid.

The best Under 23 Calcio A players

10 – Cengiz Ünder, 22-years-old:

The Turkish winger was a bright spot in what was a disappointing season for the Giallorossi. Cengiz wasn’t ever-present as he started 17 matches and made a further 9 appearances from the bench totalling in only 1378 minutes. In his somewhat limited minutes, he managed to score 3 times and assist 7. This doesn’t represent his actual numbers as although his xG was 3.08, his xA was 4.07 which suggests his team mates finished more of his chances than they should have. Despite this, his expected values are still very healthy as it his expected direct goal contributions per 90 (xG + xA) sits at 0.47 which would be a goal contribution around every 2 matches in a bad season for Roma.

Cengiz creates 1.2 chances per 90 but only completes 0.8 dribbles at a success rate of around 50%. For Turkey these stats raise to 1.8 key passes with 2.3 dribbles at a success rate of 69.7% showing he is more suited to counter attacking style of Turkey to the slightly more possession-based Roma. However, these numbers are only from 347 minutes so a very small pool so these numbers will have to be taken with a pinch of salt. With Stephan El Shaarawy’s departure and Edin Dzeko reportedly close to joining Inter Milan, there will be more pressure on Ünder to perform.

9 – Amadou Diawara, 22-years-old:

After playing only 2,345 league minutes during his three years in Naples, Diawara has moved to Roma with Manolas moving the other way. During 2018/19, the midfielder only clocked up 661 minutes despite impressing when he did play. He averaged 1.7 tackles and interceptions per 90 which isn’t massive, but Napoli averaged the second highest possession with 56.8%, only 0.1% behind Inter Milan. These defensive actions will increase with more regular game time and in a less possession heavy side.

Amadou completed 0.7 dribbles at a success rate of 100%, this would decrease and become around the 75% mark as that was his success rate in his last season at Bologna when he clocked up 2731 minutes. Amadou creates 0.4 chances to caveat his 0.7 dribbles showing he isn’t overly creative as backed up by his 3 career assists. The Guinean’s best attribute is his passing. In 2018/19 with Napoli, he averaged 41.8 passes in which 0.4 were key passes (as previously mentioned) and 2.6 were long balls. This shows that he is often not too adventurous with his passing but his pass accuracy of 92.8% does show that he is a very composed passer of the ball.

8 – Nicolò Zaniolo, 20-years-old:

The Italian burst onto the scene this season with Roma. He played 1772 league minutes in his debut season as he played as an attacking midfielder, central midfielder, right winger and even as a striker. This shows his versatility and willingness to play no matter the position. He also works hard off the ball, he averages 1.8 tackles and interceptions which at the age of 20 is very impressive for a forward player. Zaniolo doesn’t get involved much in build-up play as he only averages 20.1 passes with a pass accuracy of 81.3% but when he is involved, he causes problems for the opposition.

The Roman player averages 1.8 shots but 0.7 come from outside the box which is good but at his age you would expect to see his shot location improve. He also averages 0.7 key passes and 1.5 dribbles with a success rate of 53.6% which although isn’t great, it will improve with age. These sets of numbers show he can be the creator, the finisher or even both which is useful for any side.

7 – André Silva, 23-years-old:

The Portuguese struggled in his first season in Milan but flourished again on loan in Seville. He played 2164 minutes as Sevilla’s results tailed off in the second half of the season despite their performances remaining consistent. During 2018/19 he scored 9 and got 0 assists. However, his xG was 11.23 and he had an xA of 4.50. This means per 90, his xG is 0.47 and his xA is 0.19 so an expected direct goal contribution of 0.66. He had a very impressive season despite being rotated as he started 25 matches and had a change of system and manager.

André doesn’t get involved in build-up play as he only averages 19.9 passes with a low pass accuracy of 72.7%. He takes 2.3 shots with 0.3 coming from outside the box showing his mature shot location is prominent. He also averages 1.1 key passes showing he can do a bit of creativity. His stats show he is someone who thrives on chances in the box and has a similar style to Icardi which are becoming less popular as more is demanded from forwards in the modern day.

6 – Lorenzo Pellegrini, 23-years-old:

During a rocky season for Roma, Pellegrini still showed his talents. During 2018/19, Pellegrini played attacking midfielder, centre midfielder, defensive midfielder and on the left wing. Due to the position changes, Pellegrini’s stats are very well-rounded showing his all-round game. Lorenzo played 1828 minutes as he scored 3 and got 3 assists. His xG was 4.05 and he had an xA of 4.80 which means per 90 they sat at 0.22 and 0.24 respectively, this gave him 0.46 expected direct goal contributions per 90. Pellegrini is hard worker off the ball, he averages 2.1 tackles and interceptions per 90 which is consequence of him playing in multiple positions.

The Italian took 1.8 shots with 0.8 coming from outside the box, this shows his age as his shot location is poor but as he gets older, this will improve. He also managed to create 2.4 chances and attempt 1.6 dribbles with a success rate of 62.5%. These stats show he is more of a creative player than a goal scorer which is unusual for someone of his age.

5 – Lautaro Martínez, 21-years-old:

The Argentine had to challenge the diminutive goal scorer Icardi for game time at Inter but when given the chances, Lautaro has impressed. During 2018/19 he played 1337 minutes which came from 13 starts and 14 substitute appearances. He managed to score 6 and get 2 assists which was nearly on track with his expected numbers. He got an xG of 8.02 and an xA of 2.78 which is very impressive for inconsistent game time and a lack of game time.

Lautaro per 90, has an xG of 0.54 and an xA of 0.19 which is very similar to the person he’s challenging. Per 90, Icardi has an xG of 0.60 and an xA of 0.16 despite Martínez being 5 years his junior and Lautaro playing as an attacking midfielder in some games. Lautaro draws more similarities to Icardi with his stats. He takes 2.4 shots with 0.4 from outside the box, 8.9 passes and 0.8 key passes highlights he doesn’t get involved in play unless it’s in the box.

4 – Rodrigo Bentancur, 22-years-old:

The Uruguayan midfield maestro has struggled for consistent game time in Turin however he managed to clock up a respectful 1996 minutes during 2018/19. He averaged 3.1 tackles and interceptions which is very high for a team that tends to dictate matches with a lot of possession. However, Rodrigo isn’t just a defensive force and offers more. Rodrigo is comfortable when given the ball as he averages 39 passes per 90 and maintains a pass accuracy of 87.2%.

Bentancur attempts 1.1 dribbles and succeeds with 55% of them. This seems low as Juventus tend to face teams that sit back, this would increase a lot if he played for a team that counter attacked as there’d be more space. The midfielder takes 0.6 shots with a massive 0.5 coming from outside the box and creates 0.8 shots per 90 showing he can do a bit of everything, but his shot location would require improvement. This shot location is why he only scored twice but he also grabbed three assists.

3 – Fabián Ruiz, 23-years-old:

In his debut season in Naples, Ruiz impressed as he scored 5 goals and got 4 assists in 1991 minutes. His minutes came from 20 starts and 7 substitute appearances. Ruiz played in attacking midfield, central midfield, defensive midfield and out wide on the left and the right which has highlighted his ability to do everything. He averaged 2.8 tackles and interceptions showing his defensive nous and ability to play as a six. As well as his 1.3 dribbles with a success rate of 68.4% and his 66.6 passes with a pass accuracy of 89.8% showing he can be a controlling midfielder or a chief ball progressor.

Ruiz also created 2.3 key passes which highlights his ability to be a chief creator for a side. However, he takes 1.9 shows with 1.1 coming from outside the box which would require improvement if he wanted to play as a second striker or even as an out and out striker. Fabián can also do it in tournament football as he inspired Spain’s under-21s to be champions in the summer of 2019. In the under-21s he scored 2 and assisted 2 in 284 minutes as he stepped up his numbers and lead Spain to victory.

2 – Gianluigi Donnarumma, 20-years-old:

A player that seems to have been around forever, the Italian is still only 20-years-old but has made 142 league appearances for AC Milan. For the Rossoneri in 2018/19, Gianluigi played 3092 minutes as AC Milan had another disappointing season in which Piatek and Donnarumma were their only consistently good performers. Gianluigi is an adept passer as he averages 26.9 passes with a pass accuracy of 80.1%.

Of his 26.9 passes, a large 5.6 of them are long balls. Although he completes 5.6 long balls, he averages 5 inaccurate long balls per 90 which is down to AC Milan not having a target man to aim for. Buffon’s heir as the Italian national side’s number one averaged a big 2.7 saves per 90 showing he can perform at high levels throughout a season. In comparison, Alisson Becker, regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment, averages 1.9 saves per 90. This is lower due to him playing in a more dominant side.

1 – Matthijs De Ligt, 19-year-old:

The youngest, most expensive and no doubt, the best on this list, De Ligt is a newcomer to Italy. He joined Champions Juventus from Ajax for a reported £67.5 million as he became Juventus’ and the league’s third most expensive signing with only Higuaín and Ronaldo surpassing his fee. De Ligt was ever present for Ajax in 2018/19 as De Ligt captained them to win the domestic double and reach the Champions League semi-final. In the Eredivisie he started 33 of the 34 matches which totalled in 2970 minutes. He scored 3 and assisted 1 in his 33 matches.

Matthijs averaged 2.1 tackles and interceptions showing he is sturdy at the back even in a ball dominant side. De Ligt averaged 68.5 passes whilst maintaining a 90% pass accuracy and attempted 0.3 dribbles with a 100% pass accuracy which will decrease in a more competitive league. These stats show he is composed on the ball and has good decision making. The Dutch international is also a handful offensively. He takes 1.5 shots with 0.4 coming from outside the box which is good shot location for a centre back especially at his age but he also creates 0.4 chances so can get a few assists in a season.

The best Under 23 La Liga players

10 – Jules Koundé, 20-years-old:

Another savvy signing by Monchi for Sevilla, Jules is going to Spain coming off a very impressive season for Bordeaux. He played an integral part as Les Girondins finished 2018/19 with the equal fifth best defence although Bordeaux finished 14th. Jules started 37 matches and managed to play a total of 3330 minutes highlighting not only his fitness but also quality as he was trusted in the first team despite his age. The French international averaged 2.7 tackles and interceptions per 90 despite being shifted around as he played centre back and a couple of matches at right back for Bordeaux.

Koundé was also involved in his sides build up play as he averaged 53 passes per 90. As he gets older, his pass accuracy would improve from his 80.7% from 2018/19 as he gains experience and his technique improves. Another of his attributes that requires improvement is his concentration, however this is another attribute that would improve as he gets older.

9 – Júnior Firpo, 22-years-old:

The Spanish international is an all-round full back/wing back as he caveats defensive nous with attacking flair. This is highlighted by his 2.6 tackles and interceptions along with 1.3 dribbles at a success rate of 68.4%. Due to an injury in February, Firpo only managed 22 starts which meant he ended up playing 1937 minutes as it meant he misses 9 league matches plus matches missed as he regained match fitness and sharpness. Despite the injury at the end of 2018/19, Firpo still managed to score 3 and assist his teammates 4 times which included an assist at the Bernebeu in a match Firpo won Man of the Match in.

The former Costa Rican international also impressed at the 2019 under-21 Euros as his Spanish side went on to lift the trophy. Firpo is very comfortable on the ball, along with his dribbles he also averages 38.9 passes with a pass accuracy of 82.9% and 0.8 key passes per 90 during 2018/19 with Betis. However, at the under-21 Euros when he was playing in a more possession heavy side, these numbers rose to 47.3 passes with a pass accuracy of 87.3% and 1.3 key passes per 90. These set of numbers show he is adept to playing counter attacking football (with Betis) or in a side that is more willing to recycle possession and look to dominate the ball (with Spain)

8 – Archaf Hakimi, 20-years-old:

His first season out of his 2-year loan at Dortmund from Real Madrid, has really thrown him into the lime light as he became integral to Favre’s set up. Sadly, his season came to an end prematurely as he picked up an injury on the 31st March and didn’t recover until the 5th June, a total of 66 days. This injury, the first one of his career, meant he only played 1740 minutes. In his 1740 minutes, Hakimi was still heavily involved as he scored 2 and grabbed 4 assists as his side fell just short of grabbing their first league title since 2011/12.

The Moroccan is an all action full back, he averages 3 tackles and interceptions which shows he doesn’t disregard his defensive actions. However, he is still a force going forward as he takes 1 shot (0.5 from outside the box), 0.5 key passes and 1.8 dribbler with a success rate of 62.1%. Archaf is heavily involved in Dortmund’s play as he averages 63.4 passes with a pass accuracy of 86.1% showing how trust he is despite being a loan player and being very young. It was a certain performance in the Champions League when people really started to take notice. In this performance, he grabbed 3 assists from left back as Dortmund beat Atlético Madrid 4-0 in the Signal Iduna Park. This performance also made him an instant fan favourite back at Real Madrid.

7 – João Felix, 19-years-old:

The Portuguese has become reportedly the third most expensive player off all time after his switch from Benfica to Atlético Madrid for €126 million. In his 1736 minutes is Liga Nos, the teenage scored 15 goals and got 7 assists as he only became a regular for Benfica in the second half of the season, he averaged a direct goal involvement every 79 minutes. The second striker has some very mature aspects and as you’d expect for a 19-year-old has some parts of his game that require work.

His shot numbers are similar to that of Mauro Icardi’s, this is because Felix average 2.6 shots with 0.6 coming from outside the box which is why Felix scored all of his goals from inside the box (in the league) and he also averages 1.1 key passes, another similarity to Icardi. However, Felix’s decision-making need improvement. Felix completed 23.7 passes showing he didn’t get involved in build up play, another similarity to Icardi, but has a pass accuracy of 76.7% as well as having a dribble success rate of 58.3% as he completed 0.7 per 90. His decision making will improve as he gets older and gains more match experience.

6 – Rodrygo, 18-years-old:

One of Real Madrid’s new incomings this summer, Rodrygo won’t be a starter straight away due to Zidane’s plethora of options in forwards. However, Rodrygo can become a very good impact player/super sub. In Brasileirão, the Brazilian top flight, Rodrygo crushed it. He only played 360 minutes (4 starts) in which he scored once and assisted twice. In these minutes, he averaged 4 shots with 1 coming from outside the box, highlighting how easy he found it as he was going for the spectacular fairly regularly. He would have to reign in his confidence, not only with shot location, but with dribbles as although he was completing 3.5 per 90, he attempted 7.3 per 90 giving him a success rate of 47.9%. As he would be playing around better players, he might trust them more with ball progression meaning he wouldn’t have to dribble as much.

This is backed up with him only averaging 33.5 passes per 90 with a pass accuracy of 82.8% which might increase as he’ll be around much better players but might also decrease as he’ll be in a more competitive league. To caveat his 3.5 dribbles per 90, he also averaged 1.8 key passer showing he can also be a creative force. Despite how impressive these number are, they need to be taken with a pinch of salt. This is because it is in the Brazilian league which, like Liga Nos, is a difficult league to judge from, but also because these numbers are from 360 minutes. That is a very small sample size so the numbers can be skewed from such a small pool.

5 – Malcom, 22-years-old:

Malcom is coming off a disappointing season for himself as he failed to make a mark on the Barcelona side after turning down Roma last second to join the Spanish champions. The former Bordeaux star only managed to play 608 league minutes. In his limited minutes, Malcom scored 1 and assisted 2 which an assist against the other Catalonian side, Espanyol. One reason Malcom might not have been able to break through into the first 11 is hi work rate, he only completes 0.3 tackles and interceptions per 90. Ernesto Valverde is a pragmatic coach and requests his players trackback for his system to work.

The Brazilian doesn’t really get involved at all as his 0.7 shots, 0.9 key passes and 0.7 dribblers per 90 suggests that either his team mates don’t trust him, or he doesn’t have the work ethic to get involved. However, if given more consistent game time, Malcom’s numbers would surely improve. In his last season in France, Malcom impressed as he scored 12 and assisted 7 as it was that season that earnt him a move to the Nou Camp. The move hasn’t worked out as either party would’ve liked, despite this his talents are still evident.

4 – Vinícius Júnior, 19-years-old:

Vinícius was one of the only bright spots for Los Merengues as they had an awful 2018/19 season, sacking 2 managers before getting club legend, Zidane to return to the helm. The Brazilian started 9 matches and made 9 substitute appearance as he clocked up 864 minutes in his maiden year at the Bernebeu. The former Flamengo man is a stereotypical Brazilian forward, fast, direct and skillfull. He attempts to take his man on 3.9 times per 90 and succeeds 59% which is very high for a teenager especially in a top 5 league. The winger can do it all with his 2.3 shots (0.7 from outside the box) and 0.8 key passes resulting in an xG of 3.64 and an xA of 1.52 showing although it was a great debut season, he was unlucky. This gives him an expected 0.54 direct goal involvements per 90.

Everywhere in the youth sides, Vinícius has made a mockery of the competition with outrageous scoring rates. At Castilla (Real Madrid’s B team) he scored 4 in 5 appearances, at Brazil under-15s he scored 7 in 10 and at Brazil under-17s he notched 17 in 19 matches. Along with him tearing the youth sides apart with his goals, he also has won the South American championships with Brazil at under-15 and under-17 level. This shows he has good pedigree and can perform on the biggest stages he’s been able to.

3 – Giovani Lo Celso, 23-years-old:

One of PSG’s worst mistakes was loaning out Lo Celso with an option to buy. Lo Celso is what PSG desperately lack in their midfield, someone that can do everything. Lo Celso is acknowledged as one of the best 2-way midfielders in the world and it’s easy to see why. The Argentine started 27 matches and made 5 substitute appearances which totalled in him playing 2401 minutes showing his importance for Los Verdiblancos. In his 2401 minutes he scored 9 and assisted 4 whilst also averaging 2.1 tackles and interceptions which backs up the claims of him being one of the best box-to-box midfielders around.

The former PSG man can do everything which suggests he could fill in most outfield positions like David Alaba for Austria. Giovani is a very good ball progressor as he became key to transitioning the ball for Real Betis. Lo Celso attempted 3.2 dribbles per 90, succeeding 62.5% of the time. However, he isn’t just a dribbler but also a very adept passer as he averaged 44.5 passes with a pass accuracy of 82.9% which includes 0.8 passes. Lo Celso isn’t perfect as he takes 2 shots with 1 coming from outside the box which does suggest his shot location could be coached out of him. His stats are so well-rounded due to his attributes but also down to him playing a few different positions which include central midfield, on the right winger and attacking midfielder but he also played as a defensive midfielder for PSG but also playing many different roles.

2 – Ousmane Dembélé, 22-years-old:

Since moving to the Blaugrana from Germany, Ousmane has struggled to be a first team regular but when given his chances, he takes them. In 2018/19 he started 20 matches and came on in a further 9 matches which meant he played 1673 minutes. In his limited minutes he’s scored 8 and assisted 5 despite being shifted around the pitch. During his second season under Valverde, the Frenchman has played on either wing, at right wing back and as a striker. The former Rennes star averaged 1.3 shots with 0.3 coming from outside the box showing he selects his shot location more carefully than people think.

The Rennes academy graduate is more of a creator and ball progressor than a goal scorer. He averages 1.6 key passes and 2.3 successful dribbles with a success rate of 60.5%. However, he only averaged 31.4 passes showing he wasn’t heavily involved in play, but he was an explosive player when he was given the ball. His work ethic has always put him in hot water with his manager and the media, his work ethic on and off the pitch has hurt his reputation. He missed a meeting with the Barcelona board which annoyed the club and started news stories that they wanted him gone.

1 – Frenkie De Jong, 22-years-old:

One of the hottest properties in European football, Frenkie came to fruition in Erik Ten Hag’s system as they won the domestic double and got the Champions League semi-final. He joined Barcelona after a very impressive season which involved standout performances against Real Madrid. In the Eredivisie, De Jong started 30 matches and made 1 substitute appearance as he clocked up 2517 minutes. In his 2517 minutes, he played central midfielder, defensive midfielder and even centre back for a match as he scored 3 and assisted 3.

The former Ajax star averaged 3.1 tackles and interceptions showing his defensive nous and great reading of the game despite his young age. Even though Frenkie’s high defensive output, he also contributes going forward. He completed 2 dribbles with an absurd success rate of 76.9%. He is very comfortable on the ball, not only his dribbling but his passing. He averaged a very high 79.5 passes which includes 1.5 key passes and got a pass accuracy of 91.1% showing he gets involved in all aspects of the match.

The best Under 23 Bundesliga players

Following on from the top 10 under 23 players in the Premier League, this will be the top 10 under 23 players in the Bundesliga. As there are only 10 spots, some players have had to miss out such as Tyler Adams whos had to miss out due to only played 723 minutes for RasenBallsport Leipzig (RB Leipzig) as he only joined them in January 2019 and as he came from the MLS his stats would be skewed as it has less quality.

10 – Dayot Upamecano, 20-years-old:

Another 20-year-old French centre back in this list, however he won’t be the last. One of the only defences to have been better than Dortmund’s according to xG and how it actually played out was Leipzig’s. Leipzig had the best defence in the league as they conceded 29 but according to xG, they had the second-best defence as they should’ve conceded and extra 10. This shows they got lucky defensively but still the second best, only behind the dominant Bayern Munich.

Upamecano does draw up many comparisons to Zagadou but more so than just the age, position and nationality. Just like Zagadou, Upamecano is commanding in the air as he wins 3.1 aerial duels per 90 and has a very high success rate of 66%. As well as this, Dayot is also fairly comfortable on the ball as he completes 49.9 passes per 90 with a success rate of 82.5%. The pass accuracy is lower as Leipzig is more direct than Dortmund as highlighted by Dortmund averaging 56.8% possession, the third highest in the league, in comparison to Leipzig’s 49.5%.

9 – Jonathan Tah, 23-years-old:

Tah has been subject of a move to Bayern Munich for the last four seasons and with good reason as the German international has had an impressive season at Leverkusen once again. This season Tah started 33 league matches as he played a total of 2939 minutes. Despite the poor form Leverkusen has before Peter Bosz took the helm, Jonathan Tah was still in contention for the Bundesliga team of the season. Since Bosz has taken over at Leverkusen, Tah has been given much more responsibility as Bosz has implemented a very attacking system with a defensive line on the halfway line to box the opposition in their own half. This system change has meant Tah has had a bigger part to play in Leverkusen’s defence as well as offence.

The Hamburger academy graduate is very adept on the ball. This is backed up by him averaging 75.5 passes per 90 with a 89.8% pass accuracy. These are ambitious passes as backed up by his 3.8 accurate long balls per 90 out of an attempted 6.6 long balls as well as his 0.2 key passes per 90. These numbers will rise next season if Bosz remains in charge as since his arrival, all Tah’s statistics have improved despite only being in charge since mid-December.

8 – Ibrahima Konaté, 20-years-old:

The other French 20-year-old centre back at RB Leipzig, Konaté is regarded higher up than Upamecano by Leipzig and the whole of Europe. The Frenchman started 27 of the 34 Bundesliga matches during the 2018/19 season at he played a major part in Leipzig earning the best defence as well as grabbing a goal and an assist. In his 2431 minutes he averaged 37 passes with an 76% pass accuracy highlighting he’s not as comfortable on the ball compared to Upamecano. However, during the under-21 Euros with France he averaged 59.5 passes with a success rate of 88.2% showing he can be used in build up play for Nagelsmann in 2019/20.

Ibrahima is more aerial dominant than Dayot as he wins 3.6 out of 5.1 per 90 giving him a colossal win rate of 70.6%. In comparison, Virgil Van Dijk is well known for being one of the most aerial dominant players, wins 75% of his aerial battles and he is in his prime at 28-years-old. Konaté is also a very good dribble as he has a dribble success rate of 88.8%. He only attempts 0.9 per 90 which is quite high for a centre back as they don’t tend to step out of the line but that shows he knows when to attempt a dribble and not put his team in unnecessary danger.

7 – Benjamin Pavard, 23-years-old:

Probably most well known for his goal at the 2018 World Cup against Argentina, the versatile Frenchman can play centre back and right back. This is important to Bayern Munich as at the end of the 2017/18 season they lost Juan Bernat and at the end of the 2018/19 season they lost long servant Rafinha which left Die Roten’s full backs thin. Benjamin managed to play 2606 minutes during 2018/19 as Stuttgart faltered as they conceded 70 goals in 34, 1 more less than the which is huge drop off from 2017/19 when they conceded 36 in 34 as they had the second-best defence.

During the 2018/19 Bundesliga season, Pavard maintained his form which includes his all-round game being very good rather than excelling at one thing. The former Lille man averaged 49.8 passes which includes 0.4 key passes and 3.4 long balls with a 84.6% pass accuracy as he was vital to progressing the ball forward when he filled in at right back. Pavard also kept his place in the French set-up despite his teams faltering as his good performances shone through which helped him earn his move to the German champions.

6 – Lucas Hernandez, 23-years-old:

Another French centre back which shows that the French national team are set to continue performing at a high level as well as the Bundesliga being the place for young defenders to learn their trade. Another Bayern Munich newcomer that can play centre back and deputise at full back, Lucas Hernandez’s move from Los Rojiblancos made him the world’s second most expensive defender of all time behind Virgil Van Dijk and its clear why. Lucas, like Pavard is also a world cup winner with France but unlike Pavard, Hernandez played most of his minutes at left back.

In Lucas’ 1119 league minutes, he averaged a low 81.3% pass accuracy which would increase drastically as he moves away from Simeone’s counter attacking and towards a more possession dominant Bayern side. Despite him not getting consistent minutes and him playing defensive football, he still averaged 1.3 key passes per 90 showing he’s able to fill in for Alaba. However, he also wouldn’t shy away from his defensive duties as he also averaged 3.5 tackles and interceptions per 90 highlighting his all-round attributes.

5 – Leon Bailey, 21-years-old:

A very versatile forward as he’s filled in all across the front line for Leverkusen during 2018/19. The Jamaican managed to play 1921 minutes but only had 1 minor injury concern towards the end of the season that meant he missed 2 matches. Due to his inconsistent game time, he only managed to get 5 goals and 1 assist. Despite his lack of goal involvements, Leon still had a promising 2018/19. He averaged 1.9 shots with 1 from outside the box which shows his shot location would require improvement but as he is very young, you expect as he gets older this will naturally improve as he matures.

Leon only managed 1 assist however, xA has him down at 4 assists which is backed up by his 1.6 key passes per 90 which shows he was unlucky, and his team mates couldn’t finish off the chances he had created for them. With all this, per 90 his xG was 0.24 whilst his xA was 0.19, 0.43 expected goal contributions per 90 at 21. There is the argument that this is so high due to Peter Bosz’s incredibly attacking tactics but on the other side of the argument, for the first half of the season Leverkusen were very defensive and dogmatic as well as Bailey still performing despite the inconsistent game time.

4 – Julian Brandt, 23-years-old:

The 2018/19 season was huge season for Brandt as it earnt him his move to Dortmund and its easy to see why. In 2674 minutes, the 25-time capped German scored 7 and assisted 11 which meant he got the third highest assists as he helped Leverkusen finish fourth. Julian took 2 shots per 90 with 0.9 from outside the box which leaves room for improvement but as he will be playing with better creators such as Reus, Hazard and Sancho, Brandt’s shot location should improve as he’s given better chances and he matures as a player.

Brandt was also bought due to his versatility and ability to fill multiple positions as during 2018/19 he played on both wings, as an attacking midfielder and Bosz even played him at central midfield as well as left wing back for a match. Despite being shifted around a lot, Brandt still maintained 2.6 key passes caveated with 1.7 successful dribbles per 90. All this how pivotal and important Brandt was to the Leverkusen attack as Brandt was directly involved in 26.1% of Die Werkself’s goals.

3 – Kai Havertz, 20-years-old:

Another player that flourished under Peter Bosz’s new implemented system, Haverz, like Dele Alli, is a rare kind of player as he plays as a second striker. Due to his position being very rare within football at current, his price has been inflated from an already high price due to his attacking qualities at such a young age. Kai is coming off a season in which he scored 17 and got 3 assists which meant he ended the 2018/19 season as the equal third top goal scorer. The German took 2.6 shots with 0.8 from outside the box which highlights his maturity especially at such a young age however, his xG was 11.99 which either highlight he got the rub of the green or he is a clinical finisher. As in his last 2 seasons/his first 2 seasons he’s been in line with his xG, it would suggest he got luck but due to his age, it might have been his breakthrough season.

Havertz is not just a goal scorer, he also had 1 key pass and 1.4 successful dribbles per 90 showing good awareness and variety to his game. Kai is also a good passer as he has a pass accuracy of 87.2% which is very high for an attacking player especially in the Bundesliga as most sides play with high intensity and whilst applying a lot of pressure to the opposition. Another key attribute for him is his fitness as during 2018/19, he made 34 appearances which included 33 league starts and he played 94.8% of the league minutes available which could be another factor that could drive his price up even further.

2 – Jadon Sancho, 19-years-old:

Probably the only player on this list that hasn’t had very strong links to the Bavarian champions, the Englishman has had a breakthrough season during 2018/19. Jadon started the league campaign as a bench player but after impressing coming off the bench he was given a starting role which meant he started 26 games with 8 substitute appearances resulting in him playing 2464 minutes. He scored 12 goals and topped the Bundesliga assist charts with 14. However, xG has him at 7.42 and xA at 8.31 which shows considerate luck but the whole Dortmund had luck as they nearly stopped Bayern Munich’s stronghold on the Bundesliga. Despite the rub of the green, per 90 his xG is 0.27 and xA is 0.3 which would result in a very impressive 0.57 expected direct goal involvements per 90, yet he only turns 20 in March 2020.

Jadon’s shot numbers aren’t very high as he only averages 1.2 per 90 but with his xG as high as it is, this shows he is decisive and makes good decisions as backed up with his shot location, only 0.3 shots from outside the box per 90. Sancho is also very creative with 1.9 key passes, but his main attribute is his ability on the ball. The former Man City winger has a pass accuracy of 84.9% which is high for an attacking player, but he completes 3.3 dribbles out of 5.5 attempted per 90 giving him a success rate of 60%. Sancho prominently plays off the right but has also played on the left for the German outfit which highlights his versatility.

1 – Timo Werner, 23-years-old:

Timo has been brought into the limelight since joining RB Leipzig from Stuttgart as since getting promoted, Leipzig have been challenging towards the top end of the table. Werner has played a big part in Leipzig’s success as he has scored consistently. In 2525 minutes during the 2018/19 season the former Stuttgart man scored 16 and assisted 7 which meant he was his teams’ top scorer and equal top provider as Forsberg also got 7 assists. These numbers are about on par with what is expected as his xG was 17.38 and his xA was 5.61 which is an expected 22.99 direct goal involvements and he ended the season on 23.

As Leipzig finished third behind the dominant Bavarians and the lucky Dortmund, Werner had another impressive season. Werner takes a high 3.6 shots with only 0.4 from outside the box per 90 which highlights his maturity as his shot location is with the elite. Werner is also creative as highlighted by his 7 assists, he averaged 1.2 key passes per 90 which doesn’t sound too impressive but for a predatory striker that’s taking 3.6 shots, this is very high. He emulates aspects of Icardi as the Argentine averaged 2.5 shots with 0.3 from outside the box caveated with 1.2 key passes, and like Icardi, Werner isn’t involved much in build up play. The Stuttgart academy graduate averaged 25.5 passes with a 74.2% pass accuracy which is very low even for a forward. Like passing. Timo isn’t great at dribbling, he completes 1 dribble per 90 but fails 1.7 per 90. His passing and dribbling abilities highlights why he doesn’t get involved in build up play and why Leipzig play counter attacking football, therefore Werner thrives there.

The best Under 23 Premier League players

This is a list comprising the best players in the Premier League that will be 23 or under when the new season kicks off on the 9th August. As it is a top 10, some very good players have had to miss out, so honourable mentions to Rúben Neves, Lewis Cook, Issa Diop, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden of Wolves, Bournemouth, West Ham, Aston Villa and Man City respectively.

10) Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 23 years-old:

The Englishman had struggled with game time at Stamford Bridge but after impressing on loan at Crystal Palace during the 2017/18 season in which he completed 1.8 tackles and interceptions, 1.3 shots (only 0.4 from outside the box), 1.1 key passes and a huge 3 dribbles per 90 which led to him getting fouled 2.6 times per 90, all of these contributions earnt him 2 goals and 3 assists in 1875 minutes which included 21 league starts however his xG was 3.45 and his xA was 3.25 showing he was a bit unlucky. His stats show his all-round game and his work rate whilst also showcasing his natural ability with 3 dribbles per 90, 0.9 less than Lionel Messi in the 2018/19 La Liga season.

He was able to build upon this in the 2018/19 season with Chelsea as he clocked up 985 minutes as he started 6 matches and came off the bench 18 times as Sarri was easing him into the side but under Frank Lampard he will have more consistent game time as he is sure to be more prominent in the setup once he returns from injury. In his 985 league minutes, he scored 6 and assisted his teammates twice as he overperformed xG by 2.76 and xA by 1 which shows he got the rub of the green so to speak, this means he averages a goal contribution every 123 minutes but that has to be taken with a pinch of salt as it’s a limited sample size, he’s often coming on against tired defences and he’s had inconsistent game time so if Lampard wants give him a bigger role at Chelsea, we could see a better version of the 2017/18 Loftus-Cheek.

9) Pablo Fornals, 23-years-old:

The Spaniard has joined West Ham from Villarreal for £25 million after a disappointing season as the Yellow Submarine finished 14th as Fornals played 2483 minutes and scored 2 whilst getting 3 assists however his xG was closer to 4 and his xA was about 5.5. West Ham haven’t bought him off the 2018/19 season as in 2017/18 he scored 3 and got 12 assists in his first season at Villarreal with his xG being 3.14 and his xA being 9.29 which are still very impressive underlying numbers. During the 2017/18 season, he played 2623 league minutes and he averaged 2.1 tackles and interceptions, 1.5 shots (0.7 from outside the box showing his immaturity and his shooting position needing to be improved), 1.5 key passes and 0.8 dribbles with a respectable 53% success rate per 90.

In the 2018/19 season, his dribbling improved showing he is maturing as he completed 1.1 dribbles per 90 with a much healthier 61% success rate. However, it was in the under 21 Euros this summer is when he came into fruition and into the public eye as he played a big part in the tournament. He clocked up 320 minutes as he scored 2 and got an assist whilst averaging 2.4 shots (only 0.6 from outside the box showing maturity in shooting location), 1.8 key passes whilst keeping a good 88.1% pass accuracy, 1.2 dribbles with a 60% success rate as well as 2 tackles and interceptions per 90 as his nation went on to win the competition.

8) Diogo Jota, 22-years-old:

Diogo is coming off his second season at Wolves, his first in the Premier League, as he really showed his quality in England’s top flight. In 2372 minutes, he scored 9 goals and 5 assists meaning he’s averaging a goal contribution every 169 minutes. Wolves only scored 47 goals and as Jota had 14 goal contributions, this means he was directly involved in 29.8% of their goals despite featuring in 69% of the available minutes. His xG was 8.91 and his xA was 5.54 showing he was near enough spot on with his underlying stats so no luck either side.

In his 2372 minutes, the former Atletico Madrid man averaged 1.8 shots (only 0.3 from outside the box showing great shot location), 0.8 key passes, 1.7 dribbles with a low 47% success rate showing he needs to pick more carefully when to take his man on, this immaturity and lack of good decision is backed up with his 11 yellow cards which included 3 in his last 3 appearances of the season, along with his 75.6% pass accuracy which is expected to be low due to him being an attacking player but that is too low. Diogo played as a left winger, striker and even an attacking midfielder for Wolves during the 2018/19 season showing his versatility and ability to plug gaps in attacking positions.

7) Youri Tielemans, 22-years-old:

Leicester’s club record signing is the first of their 3 midfielders in this list. In the 2018/19 season, he clocked up 1092 minutes at Leicester despite joining on loan in January in which he scored 3 and got 4 assists whilst his xG was 2.06 and his xA was 2.50 showing he got the rub of the green however over the course of the season that would level out more as his 1092 minutes is a small sample size. In just his 13 league starts he quickly impressed and became a fan favouite.

In his 1092 minutes, he averaged 2.4 shots (1.8 from outside the box showing he really backs himself but Brendan Rodgers will have to coach that out of him and improve his shot location), 1.2 key passes, 0.9 dribbles with a 64.3% success rate (showing he knows when to take his man on), 49.3 passes with an 85% pass accuracy along with 1.7 tackles and interceptions per 90.

6) Marcus Rashford, 21-years-old:

For a player who only got his chance due to injuries and lack of depth for Man United in 2015/16 under Van Gaal, Rashford has done well to remain in the first team for the seasons following due to him taking his chances when he starts as well as his work ethic, this and him coming through Man United’s youth academy has made him a fan favourite at Old Trafford. He played 2345 minutes during the 2018/19 season and in those minutes he payed all along the front line showing his versatility and desire to play.

In his 2345 he scored 10 and got 6 assists, his xG was 11.61 and his xA was 5.27 so he was about on track for his goal contributions. This is because he averaged 2.5 shots (1.1 from outside the box which is good for an attacker of his age but clear room for improvement in the decision making), 1.2 key passes, 1.3 dribbles with a 50% success rate which led to him drawing 1.6 fouls and 20.2 passes with a 78.1% pass accuracy. The shot location, dribble success rate and pass accuracy show he requires an improvement in decision making if he wants to take his game to the next level, but the rest of his numbers are very promising for the 21-year-old.

5) Wilfred Ndidi, 22-years-old:

The Nigerian defensive midfielder is in this list as for the last few years his defensive numbers have been colossal in Leicester’s midfield. In the 2018/19 season, he averaged 6 tackles and interceptions (3.8 tackles and 2.2 interceptions) whilst only fouling 1.2 per 90 and being dribbles past 1.3 times per 90. This season is no fluke either, throughout his career he’s always put up huge defensive number even in a top competition and when he was young. In the 2016/17 Europa League with Genk, he averaged 7 tackles with 4.8 interceptions and even in the Champions League later that season with Leicester, he averaged 5.3 tackles and interceptions whilst in the 2018 World Cup, with Nigeria he averaged 5 tackles and 4 interceptions per 90 which are obscene numbers.. These numbers are huge due to the teams he played in haven’t been possession heavy and more counter attack orientated but throughout his career he’s averaged committing 1.6 fouls and being dribbled past 1.6 times per 90 which will decrease as he gets older due to him maturing and his decision making improving with experience but already those stats are very good.

During the 2018/19 season, he played 3299 minutes as he started 37 games and was subbed on for the other game showing how important he is to Leicester with his performances. In his 3299 minutes he got 2 goals and 0 assists, but he averaged 1.4 shots (0.9 from outside the box), 0.6 key passes, 0.9 dribbles (with a 69% success rate) and 52.2 passes with a pass accuracy of 79.9%. These show he is more defensive orientated but can occasionally offer things when going forward like his dribbles or passes to progress the ball forwards however the pass accuracy and shot location would need improving but are probably bad due to him being a defensive midfielder.

4) James Maddison, 22-years-old:

James has shot to prominence after his move from Norwich to Leicester after having an outstanding debut Premier League season in which he played 2850 minutes and scored 7 times whilst also assisting his team mates 7 times with his xG at 7.37 and xA at 7.94 shows it’s not a lucky season but in fact a statement of intent from the Englishman. He showed his versatility and desire to play as he played attacking midfielder and on the left wing as he quickly became a favourite at the King Power.

He averaged 2.3 shots (1.6 from outside the box), 2.8 key passes, 1,4 dribbles with a 70% success rate, 39 passes with a pass accuracy of 83.8% along with 1.6 tackles and interceptions per 90. His shot location is poor due to him being on set pieces (which is also why he averages 1.9 crosses and the key passes are high but xA is low for the amount of key passes) but could still be improved in open play along with his pass accuracy. Maddison created the most amount of chances (100) in the Premier League, ahead of new Galactico Hazard (created 98) who also took set pieces for his respective side, Chelsea.

3) Trent Alexander-Arnold, 20-years-old:

The Champions League winner is coming off a huge season with Liverpool as they lost the league by 1 point as they reached 97 points (despite the luck in xG) but Trent got many plaudits for his very impressive season for the Reds in which he scored 1 and got 12 assists which broke a record for defender with most assists in a Premier League season, his xG was 1.49 and his xA was 7.22 so he got the rub of the green when creating chances along with Andy Robertson’ but that’s what happens when they’re creating chances for their elite front three but both of their assists will drop next season along with Liverpool’s points tally.

In the league, he played 2467 minutes as he averaged 3.3 tackles and interceptions, 1 shot (0.8 from outside the box), 1.7 key passes (Trent takes corners so that boosts his key passes) along with 58.5 passes with a 77.5% pass accuracy per 90. The shot location is poor due to him being a defender but the pass accuracy is low as he’s constantly trying to progress the ball forward with vertical forward passes which is backed up by him completing 4 long balls from 8.9 long balls per 90.

2) Dele Alli, 23-years-old:

The former MK Dons player came from the Dons to the Lily Whites and became a first team regular as he was pushed from deep line play maker to second striker at Tottenham in which he has flourished, and that switch has brought him to prominence and into in the spotlight. He is coming off a disappointing season by his standards as injuries heavily hampered his season as he only managed to play 1835 minutes in which he scored 5 and got 3 assisits which was on track for his xG and xA.

During the 2018/19 season, he averaged 1.6 shots (only 0.4 from outside the box showing his experience and maturity despite still being very young), 1.1 key passes, 1.2 dribbles (54.5% success rate so decision making on when to attempt to take his man on needs improvement but his injury could’ve hampered his mobility and/or pace), 41.1 passes with a pass accuracy of 80.3% along with 2.1 tackles and interceptions. These stats show he can be involved in everything however his low pass accuracy and dribble success rate could be down to him being advanced up the pitch or down to poor judgement but will need to be improved.

1)Leroy Sané, 23-years-old:

The formed Schalke player only started 21 league matches and came off the bench 10 times as he clocked up 1867 minutes despite his talent being evident, but the lack of minutes is down to Pep Guardiola rotating his squad and him not being overly fancied as he’s more of an individualist rather than a system player especially compared to Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva. Despite the lack of minutes, Sané still got 10 goals and 10 assists but his xG was 6.98 and his xA was 8.10, he performed xG and xA as he was coming on against tired defences, so his pace was too much. Despite this, he had an xG of 0.34 and an xA of 0.39 per 90 (not the most accurate as his sample size isn’t huge but still very impressive as his game time was inconsistent), so he is expected to have a direct hand in a goal 0.73 times per 90.

In his 1867 minutes, the German international averaged 1.8 shots (0.6 from outside the box), 1.3 key passes, 1.8 dribbles (with a 54.5% success rate), 27.3 passes with a pass accuracy of 84.4% along with 1.1 tackles and interceptions. With these very promising stats that will improve as he gets older and matures as he gains experience as well as when he gets more consistent game time then it is very clear why Bayern Munich were desperate to land him but also why Man City were desperate to keep hold of him.

How Newcastle’s summer should go

Here is Newcastle’s squad:

Goalkeepers:

Karl Darlow – 38 league starts – 3420 minutes

Martin Dúbravka – 0 league starts – 0 minutes

Rob Elliot – 0 league starts – 0 minutes

Defenders:

Ciaran Clark – 9 league starts + 2 subs – 858 minutes

Paul Dummet – 21 league starts + 5 starts – 1987 minutes

Federico Fernández – 17 league starts + 2 starts – 1484 minutes

Jamaal Lascelles – 32 league starts – 2748 minutes

Achraf Lazaar (returning from loan with Sheffield Wednesday) – 3 league starts + 1 sub – 220 minutes

Florian Lejeune – 12 league starts – 1055 minutes

Javier Manquillo – 12 league starts + 6 subs – 1100 minutes

Fabian Schär – 22 league starts + 2 subs – 2004 minutes

DeAndre Yedlin – 28 league starts + 1 sub – 2475 minutes

Midfielders:

Rolando Aarons (returning from loan with Sheffield Wednesday) – 6 league starts + 3 subs – 556 minutes

Christian Atsu – 15 league starts + 13 subs – 1488 minutes

Jack Colback (returning from loan with Nottingham Forest) – 38 league starts – 3387 minutes

Isaac Hayden – 21 league starts + 4 subs – 1864 minutes

Sung-Yueng Ki – 14 league starts + 4 subs – 1302 minutes

Sean Longstaff – 8 league starts + 1 sub – 688 minutes

Jacob Murphy (returning from loan with West Brom) – 12 league starts + 12 subs – 1130 minutes

Matt Ritchie – 35 league starts + 1 sub – 2940 minutes

Henri Saivet (returning from loan with Bursaspor) – 24 league starts + 5 subs – 2090 minutes

Jonjo Shelvey – 10 league starts + 6 subs – 944 minutes

Forwards:

Miguel Almirón – 9 league starts + 1 sub – 763 minutes

Dwight Gayle (returning from loan with West Brom) – 34 league starts + 6 subs – 2936 minutes

Yoshinori Mutō – 5 league starts + 12 subs – 519 minutes

Joselu Sanmartín – 5 league starts + 11 subs – 587 minutes

Season recap:

Despite avoiding relegation and finishing 13th on 45 points (winning 12, drawing 9 and losing 17) after only gaining 3 points from the first 10 matches, the 2018/19 season was a failure for Newcastle as it saw Rafael Benítez leave at the end of the season due to him and owner, Mike Ashley fell out as Rafa felt Mike Ashley lacked ambition with Newcastle. This was a huge loss as Rafa won the Championship with the Magpies in his first full season then kept them from relegation in the 2 seasons that followed despite the lack of financial backing and the squad remining Championship standard. In the 2018/19 season, Newcastle only scored 42 goals, with only the bottom 4 scoring less, and they conceded an impressive 48 goals, the equal 7th best defence in the league along with Leicester which was better than Man United and Arsenal who conceded 54 and 51 respectively. Although keeping Newcastle in the Premier League is considered a success at the moment, the 13th placed finish showed regression from the 2017/18 season. In Newcastle’s first season in the Premier League (2017/18), they finished 10th having scored 39 and conceded 47 which meant they boasted the 8th worst attack and the 7th best defence, ahead of Arsenal once again who conceded 51 in Arsène Wenger’s last season at the Emirates.

In the EFL Cup, the Northern club got knocked out in the second round by Championship side Nottingham Forest, as the lost 3-2 at home to Forest. In the FA Cup they endured more success as they were knocked out in the fourth round by eventual finalists, Watford as the Hornets beat Newcastle 2-0 at St. James’ Park.

Transfers:

Newcastle’s main priority this summer will be getting in a manager that will keep them from becoming a Championship club and after Benítez had the players used to their 5 at the back, the next manager must be able to implement a similar formation if they don’t want to get off to a rocky start. With Ayoze Pérez’s departure to the King Power having brought in an extra £30 million to spend for their new manager, this summer could be a big one for Newcastle. Newcastle have a rumoured £60 million to spend with an extra £30 million from Ayoze’s departure plus any additional funds from sales which there would be plenty as Newcastle have plenty of Championship quality players.

Whilst the sales of Lejeune (£10 million), Lazaar (£1 million), Yedlin (£10 million), Colback (£3 million), Saivet (£1 million) , Shelvey (£15 million), Joselu (£5 million), Gayle (£15 million) will bring in a good amount of money, it will leave some holes in the squad that will need to be addressed for the upcoming season. The loan of Salomon Rondon ending will also be a massive loss as he was the focal point of their attack under Rafa as he was their outlet, they will have to bring in a new striker without getting any money for their main striker last season.

Although Florian Lejeune is a top centre back for Newcastle, he only managed just over 1000 minutes due to injuries. On the 29th July 2018 he had a cruciate ligament rupture in which he came back on the 31st December meaning he was out for 155 days and then on the 6th April 2019 he had a knee injury, ruling him out for most of the summer which has already totalled to over 90 days of being out due to this injury, if they can get some money for him and reinvest it in a new centre back the Newcastle’s defence will have strengthened and have a more consistent face in their defence. Achraf Lazaar, Jack Colback and Dwight Gayle are all coming back off seasons in the Championship but with differing success however none are good enough for the Premier League and Newcastle’s squad so getting money for them would be smart business so they can reinvest it wisely. DeAndre Yedlin is coming off a poor season defensively which doesn’t get noticed in a very defensive side but has the pace to recover but there are better options for Newcastle which they will have to explore. Jonjo Shelvey only clocked up 944 minutes despite not having an injury since the 2013/14 season and the lack of minutes highlights that he is expendable so keeping him when he is valued at £15 million (on Transfermarkt) would be a bad move so shipping him on means strengthening the squad. Joselu has been unnoticeable since joining from Stoke and his seasons at Newcastle have been lacklustre whilst Saivet may be coming off a consistent season in Turkey, he isn’t Premier League quality, so he isn’t required.

After these sales added to the £30 million from Ayoze Pérez leaving and the initial transfer budget of £60 million will leave around £150 million to spend with certain prominent issues that need solving.

Transfers in:

Manager – Quique Setién. He may have got sacked at the end of the 2018/19 season by Real Betis after a disappointing last 2 third of the season but the first third was incredibly impressive as well as the 2017/18 season and despite the poor end to his tenure in Seville, over his 95 matches he averaged 1.46 points per game which would mean 55 points over a 38 game season which would have been enough to earn 8th place in the 2018/19 Premier League season, only 2 points behing Wolves. The former Atlético Madrid player favours a 3-4-2-1 in an attacking style which would excite the fans whilst the formation is very similar to the one in which Rafa implemented. This means the transfers will be to suite Quique’s 3-4-2-1.

Right wing back – Benjamin Henrichs. AS Moanco would look to recoup around £20 million for the German. The 22-year-old won’t fly forward to attack but playing as a wingback he would create some chances however he would offer more defensive solidity which would be required if Setién wants to revert to his Betis tactics. The former Leverkusen man averaged 4.2 tackles and interceptions per 90 in his 1827 minutes in Ligue 1 last season whilst committing 1.6 fouls and averaging 1 key pass. In comparison, DeAndre Yedlin averaged 2.9 tackles and interceptions, 1.4 fouls and 1 key pass despite Henrichs being 3 years his junior. Benjamin would offer more defensive solidity with more longevity and grow to suit the tactics more.

Centre back – Matija Nastasic, Schalke will ask for £20 million. The Serb is coming off a diassapointing season in German as Die Königsblauen just about fought of relegation despite finishing second the season before (even though xG said Leipzig should’ve finished second and Schalke were very lucky). The former Man City player started 28 league games and played a total of 2451 minutes, he averaged 2.7 tackles and interceptions. He also averages 44.2 passes with an 82.7% pass accuracy which includes 3.9 long balls which isn’t outstanding but adequate for Newcastle and would improve under Quique Setién.

Left Wing Back – Júnior Firpo, he flourished under Quique and would cost £20 million to £25 million. The Euro under-21 winner has played with Quique at Betis so won’t have to adapt to his tactics so can bed-in quickly and can even be used as a mouth piece for the manager like Jérémy Pied was for Claude Puel at Southampton. The Spanish international has rose to prominence over the last few years with some stand-out performances for El Glorioso and the stats back it up as in the 2018/19 season he averaged 2.6 tackles and interceptions, 1.3 dribbles, 0.8 key passes and 0.8 shots per 90 which led to him getting 3 goals and 4 assists in 1937 La Liga minutes despite Betis’ drop off in the last 2 thirds of the season which means you can expect more from him.

Central Midfielder – Florian Grillitsch, Hoffenheim would look for £25 million to £30 million for the Austrian midfielder. The 23-year-old has gained many plaudits as he is coming off a stellar season for Die Kraichgauer. He racked up a total of 2395 minutes in which he played at central midfield, defensive midfield and even in centre back. He has experience playing for one of the most exciting managers in Julian Nagelsmann which also means he is used to an attacking 5 at the back system and will offer tactical versatility. The former Werder Bremen man averaged a huge 5 tackles and interceptions, 1.1 shots (0.8 from outside the box which can be coached to shoot from better positions especially seen as he scored 0 goals), 0.9 key passes (which earnt him 3 assists), 51.6 passes with an 83.5% pass accuracy which included 3.5 successful long balls per 90 during the 2018/19 season. Things like shot location and pass accuracy will be improved under Quique and he became an important cog to how they play.

(If Sean Longstaff leaves for £50 million then:

Central Midfielder – Jordan Veretout. The 26-year-old is coming of a good season in Florence despite La Viola finishing 16th, just 2 places off relegation. In the 2018/19 season he started 33 matches and played 2944 minutes in which he scored 5 and got 3 assists as Fiorentina scored a disappointing 47 goals which ended up being the 8th worse in the division. He is an all action midfielder as he averaged 3.3 tackles and interceptions, 1.2 shots (0.8 from outside the box so his shot location will need improving) along with a healthy 2.3 key passes per 90. He also averaged 55 passes with an 81.8% pass accuracy which would improve next to Grillitsch. Both would offer a lot defensively and offensively as they can do both, Quique could operate them both as box to box midfielder or in any various roles due to their all-round game. He did play for Aston Villa in their horror 2015/16 season which saw them get relegated but he has matured and improved in Italy and deserves another chance in the Premier League.

Centre back: Nikola Milenkovic. The Serbian centre back is coming off a good season in Italy in which he has gained a lot of attention for his performances as he started 34 matches playing 3010 minutes in which he netted 3 times. The 6’4” man averaged 3.1 tackles and interceptions whilst committing 2 fouls per 90 which led to 7 yellow cards, this shows he’s still rash and immature but working in Setién’s team, he would mature into a more well-rounded defender. He averaged 48.5 passes with a success of 79.9% coupled with 3.6 long balls per 90, in Setién’s system this would improve, and he would be more assured on the ball. His side only conceded 45 goals, the 6th best in the league, 1 better than third places Atalanta.

Together, Fiorentina would look for around £50 million for them as Veretout would cost about £20 million and Milenkovic would cost around £30 million.)

Winger – Marcus Thuram, Guingamp would accept a bid of £20 million for the Frenchman. The son of Lilian Thuram carried an uninspiring Guimgamp attack who only scored 28 goals during the 2018/19 season in which Marcus contributed 9 goals and 1 assist, this meant he was directly involved in 35.7% of their goals. However as impressive as this, according to understat’s model for expected goals (xG), he should’ve scored 10.62 and had 2.56 assists which puts him on 0.46 goal contributions per 90 for a side that finished last in Ligue 1 and only averaged 0.74 goals per 90 which would mean he would’ve been directly involved of 62% of their goals. The 21-year-old (turns 22 in August) played off the left during the 2018/19 season but can also play as a striker and could learn to play off the right. At 6’2” he can also a be an aerial threat showing he is very versatile as he is also lightning quick when running with the ball.

Winger – Ollie Watkins, Brentford would look for £20 million for the former Exeter player. The 23-year-old is coming off an impressive season for Brentford despite the Bees stuttering. In 3127 minutes, he scored 10 goals and scored 6 assists, a goal involvement every 195 minutes for a side that finished 11th as he averaged 2.2 shots (only 0.6 from outside of the box) and 1.7 key passes with 1 dribbler per 90 during the 2018/19 season. He has been touted for a move to Southampton so Newcastle would have to move quickly as he is well sort after but if Quique can offer him first team football, he’d surely be keen on the move to St. James Park.

Striker – Neal Maupay, Brentford are asking for £15 million for the striker. The 22-year-old has also impressed for Brentford during the 2018/19 season in which he played 3719 minutes as he scored 25 goals and got 8 assists in the Championship which meant he averaged a goal involvement every 113 minutes. The former Nice man averaged 3.3 shots (a healthy 0.9 from outside the box) with 1.3 key passes per 90 over the course of the 2018/19 season.

Although Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay are coming from the Championship so would be labelled as “Championship quality” which would contradict my previous statement that Newcastle need less Championship quality and more Premier League quality. However, these 2 are clearly too good for the Championship, with no disrespect to the Championship, they are clearly ready for the step up to the Premier League and where better than at Newcastle where they’ll be given the opportunities along with another young talent in Marcus Thuram and for an attacking and interesting manager in Quique Setién.

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