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Transfer deadline day (or National Jim White day if you prefer), has officially closed. Another window has come and gone, with a summer full of speculation, gossip and anticipation.
This summer’s transfer window was the richest in Premier League history as total spend for the calendar year reached £1bn for the first time. The biggest spenders were Manchester City while Manchester United's £36m signing of Monaco teenager Anthony Martial was the biggest deadline-day move.
This window brought us headlines including “Liverpool's Raheem Sterling is the world's sixth most valuable player and fourth most likely to be sold this transfer window” to “QPR's Charlie Austin the most likely player in Europe to be transferred this summer says new study”.
Data analytics within the football industry is nothing new, every stat, tackle, shot is recorded, analysed and used to gain a competitive advantage. But the impact these figures have on the value of a player is something to focus on.
So was it a no brainer when Charlie Austin was labelled top of the “100 big-5 league players with the greatest probability of a paid transfer” list by CIES Football Observatory?
The CIES Football Observatory is an academic group based in Switzerland, they calculate a player's transfer value based on an econometric algorithm that looks at his performance, age, position, contract duration and team performance.
A similar model is used by the academics to calculate the probability of a transfer. Using research into transfer activity over the last six seasons, Sterling was ranked as the fourth most likely player in Europe's top five league's to be transferred this summer, which saw him transferred to Manchester City for £49m from Liverpool.
Football is a simple game, a game that some say has been taken over by statistics and over complicating the game we love. It can’t be avoided, key decision makers in the business live off these statistics. It’s the Jeremy Peace’s and the Daniel Levy’s of the game that use these numbers to determine where they are going to spend their money.
The CIES can attempt to predict and assess the probability of the transfer window, though ultimately it is down to the hot headed business owners to battle it out on the financial front to get what they deem is the best offer. This unforeseen anomaly can be demonstrated through West Brom striker Saido Berahino who suggested he will never play for the club again under Chairman Jeremy Peace, after they turned down a fourth bid for him from Tottenham Hotspur.
Peace went on to criticise Tottenham’s "antics" in trying to get the player "cheaply". Though if you look back at the CIES statistics Berahino was only 38th of their list of The 100 big-5 league players with the greatest probability of a paid transfer.
Some argue that football is a numbers game, it’s all about the score line and that’s it. From a transfer perspective it’s much deeper than this, there are qualitative factors effecting a transfer that can’t be avoided. We have seen our fair share of Non-British National players come into the premier league with good statistics that on paper look like one thing but in reality may suffer from a lack of smooth transition.
To add to this the near signing of David De Gea from Manchester United to Real Madrid also proved to be more complicated than expected.
“Analysis from BBC Sport's Simon Stone:
Even in this world of mega-money deals, some players are untouchable. As the dust settled on a hectic 48 hours at Old Trafford, a senior United source said the only thing that stopped their two-time player of the year David De Gea being in that category was the length of his contract.”
Ultimately, the Chairman, the owner and to an extent the player, make their own choices. Where they choose to spend money is based upon data but is also based on the unpredictability of the business world that football has become. So, probabilities are just that in regards to the transfer window. Technology is going to develop and we are only going to be filled with more information, more analysis and more guess work, in the end it all adds to the anticipation of deadline day.
Jan Musa | Social Media & Marketing Manager
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