Yesterday it was revealed that West Ham offered Marseille £31.5m for Michy Batshuayi. Batshuayi is already 22 years old and will be 23 in October (Libra). He has played just 12,623 minutes of football and scored 78 goals in his career bringing his total to a goal every 168 minutes. In terms of cost per goal, West Ham has offered £400k per goal that Batshuayi has scored in his life.
Applying that same logic to Romelu Lukaku, who is also 22 and will be 23 in a few days (Taurus), we see that Lukaku has already scored 126 goals in his professional career. He has scored more because he has been played more, 20,394 minutes already. His rate of scoring goals is actually similar to Batshuayi, a goal every 162 minutes. But going by the £400k per goal formula, we get a price of £51m.
These prices are too expensive for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. So, we need a method of scouting for players who are just under 21 and ready to break out and have a great career. Here, I invented one.
Step 1. Go to www.whoscored.com
Step 2. Click on “statistics”
Step 3. Scroll down to the player stats and click on the “detailed” tab
Step 4. In the age field select “less than” and put “22″ also in the appearances tab select “more than” and put “10″
Step 5. Offer Osmane Dembele’s agent whatever they ask for
Obviously I’m not being serious but I’m going to continue anyway.
Dembele has scored 12 goals this season and is the highest ranked U21 player in the WhoScored system. That ranking is heavily weighted toward dribbles and he is an excellent dribbler completing 71% of 145 dribbles this season.
Anthony Martial has tried more dribbles than any other U21 player, 176 (81 successful), but just below him is Schalke’s attacking midfielder Leroy Sane. Sane is 20 years old and already has 7 goals and 6 assists.
If you’re just looking for the next forward, I would suggest looking at goals. Sanabria is a classic CF — he doesn’t offer much other than goals. He has 11. Mitrovic surprises me every time I see that he’s 21 years old. It also surprises me that he has 8 goals this season. Here’s a weird fact: last season when Lukaku was 21 years old, he scored 8 goals… In the Europa League. He scored 20 goals in all competitions for Everton last year. 25 this year. I also recently did some graphs on players reaching their peak. Lots of players have a single peak and that lasts like three seasons and then they fall off. It seems to happen young for British players (Owen, Fowler, etc). But there are a few rare players who hit a peak and stay there for years (Henry, etc.). Also there are players like Drogba who really only had two or three great seasons and somehow people think they are the best of all time. They aren’t.
For center backs, I think Jonathan Tah is going to be a name you hear a lot. He plays for Bayer Leverkusen, is 6’4″ tall and weighs 215lbs. He is a decent passer, wins 69% of his aerial duels, and (this is important for an Arsenal CB) he leads the U22 group in interceptions.
There’s a young Syrian kid named Mahmoud Dahoud who plays next to Granit Xhaka for Borussia MG. Five goals and 8 assists this season, decent passer (84%), decent dribbler (55%), will probably get picked up in the next year or so if he can improve his long passing, turnovers, and dribbling.
Lyon have continued their tradition of pumping out killer C(D)Ms with Corentin Tolisso the latest. He’s a 21 year old Frenchman who completes 72% of his long passes. That’s a fantastic rate for a young player. He’s also a 71% tackler and 85% passer. 6 assists already this season, 1 from a through ball!
Arsenal already have the best U22 right back in football, Hector Bellerin. The highest rated left back is Benjamin Mendy. He plays for Marseilles and he’s a 73% dribbler, which is outstanding even if he is dribbling in France (Bellerin is 70%). Mendy creates 1.3 key passes per game and is a 43% accurate crosser (Bellerin is 35% accurate, which is still good).
The real story here is the transfer prices for these young players. Batshuayi at £31.5m is just £11m less than Arsenal paid for Mesut Özil — the best playmaker in the world. Man U paid £60m (or will pay that much) for Anthony Martial, £18m more than Özil and just £5m less than Barcelona paid for Luis Suarez. The Premier League is awash with money from the new television deals and they are starting to look for players who will be with their teams for 5+ years. And so they are turning to ever younger players in search of the best deal they can get.