Scouting-Report: Who succeeds Robben & Ribery

Following the much discussed Champions League elimination against Barcelona, we’re entering a very important transfer window for Bayern. The key position of the summer certainly is the offensive winger. Over the last few months, the club had to realize that the regulars at those positions couldn’t be replaced properly. Author: Steffen • Translator:

The injuries to Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery meant not only the loss of two outstanding individual players but of an entire type of player that, especially following the departure of Xherdan Shaqiri, lacks any depth. The skills in one-on-one situations and the successful dribbles are key characteristics of those wingers that help break down deep defensive lines or any other defense. As Guardiola repeatedly stated over the last few months, “we don’t have any other players of that type”. Even though the much improved Mitchell Weiser offered a bit of an alternative in the dying weeks of the season – Bayern’s offense was a completely different one without the goal-scoring wingers.

According to whoscored.com, both Ribery (5.3) and Robben (5.1) are in the Bundesliga’s top 5 players for successful dribbles per 90 minutes. Thiago is the only other Bayern player in the top 20, symbolizing the lack of alternatives. Furthermore, Arjen Robben dominates other offensive stats as well, averaging 2.4 key passes and 4.2 shots per 90 minutes. With neither Robben nor Ribery on the pitch, Bayern’s goal average shrunk from 3.2 to 1 goal per match in the Bundesliga and from 2.8 to 1.9 goals per match in the Champions League.
In the upcoming season, Arjen Robben will turn 32 years old and Franck Ribery will celebrate his 33rd birthday. So not only the injury worries but also the age of these two world-class players forces the club to act. Required is another goal-scoring winger who isn’t afraid of dribbling who can ideally influence the team for years to come. Miasanrot scouted the market and the European top leagues for potential candidates with the help of publicly accessible stats.

The criteria

  • A potential candidate should be 28 years or younger, in order to help the club for years to come.
  • He should also have played a sizeable amount of time as a winger on either side of the pitch.

The exceptional statistical qualities of Robben and Ribery become apparent in form of successful dribbles and key passes. Beyond that, a potential candidate should be capable of creating scoring chances on his own. In order to filter out the absolute best candidates, potential transfer targets have to reach the following key performance indicators:

  • 2,5 successful dribbles/90 minutes
  • 2 key passes/90 minutes
  • 2 shots on goal/90 minutes

Players who meet two of the three requirements and offer an exceptional number in one of the statistics are also included.

The candidates

Bundesliga

PlayerAgeValue% Dribbles wonDribblesKey PassesShots
Kevin De Bruyne2335 Mio.58%2,83,32,9
Roberto Firmino2325 Mio.56%4,222,9
Filip Kostic225,5 Mio.57%4,622,8
Ibrahima Traoré275 Mio.67%5,32,12,5
Marco Reus2550 Mio.52%22,83,7
Julian Draxler2125 Mio.77%3,812,8
Karim Bellarabi258 Mio.55%5,21,43,4
Julian Brandt195 Mio.43%2,12,31,5
Leroy Sané191,5 Mio.47%3,40,72
As of: 17.05.2015, Source: WhoScored.com, Transfermarkt.de

Two often discussed candidates, namely Kevin de Bruyne and Roberto Firmino, impress with very good stats in all three categories. De Bruyne’s dribbling numbers aren’t at the level of Robben and Ribery but he offers a number of key passes that wasn’t reached by anyone else in Europe. Firmino appears as an all-around force with strong dribbles. But he is, even more so than de Bruyne, a central offensive midfielder who’s only occasionally been used as left winger at Hoffenheim. That’s something to consider in the overall assessment. De Bruyne too plays most of his matches in a central role.

A bit of a surprise might be Kostic and Traoré. While the Gladbach player mainly convinced as a highly energetic super-sub and thus doesn’t appear as a real candidate, the stats of Filip Kostic should make you take notice. Only 22 years old, he still offers a lot of potential for further development and should be considered as a potential candidate. Karim Bellarabi is more of a dribbling specialist who lacks the strategical abilities of the guys placed above him. Marco Reus impresses with good stats but appears to have decided against Bayern once and for all.

What’s remarkable is that, in Julian Brandt and Leroy Sané, two U20 players just barely missed a complete match with the performance indicators. For Sané, the sample size is still very small. Julian Brandt on the other hand looks certain to be linked with Bayern sooner or later. Julian Draxler, almost forgotten due to injury trouble, proves with his strong dribble and shot stats why he should remain on the lists as a potential candidate. What he lacks right now is consistency.

Premier League

PlayerAgeValue% Dribbles wonDribblesKey PassesShots
Angel Di Maria2765 Mio.41%2,52,93,4
Eden Hazard2460 Mio.64%4,72,62
Alexis Sanchez2645 Mio.59%2,53,63,6
Raheem Sterling2030 Mio.49%32,22,5
Oxlade-Chamberlain2118 Mio.66%52,12
Victor Moses247,5 Mio.52%3,922,5
Mesut Özil2640 Mio.64%2,731,4
Coutinho2225 Mio.60%3,51,83,3
As of: 17.05.2015, Source: WhoScored.com, Transfermarkt.de

In the Premier League, six players meet our criteria. Among those, Eden Hazard surely is the perfect candidate and would immediately improve Bayern at the highest level. His Champions League stats, particularly for dribbles, are even better. That being said, a transfer is highly unrealistic, just like with Alexis Sanchez. Bayern would have to get close to their financial limits to make such a solution possible. Not to mention that both are key players at their current clubs, which distinguishes them from Angel di Maria who has spent most of the recent time on the Manchester bench and meets the criteria, as well. His market value is very high but his role at the club might lead to a reduced price. His situation is similar to that of Arjen Robben in 2009, when he became more and more disappointed at Real Madrid and only was available to join Bayern because of that. The Bayern board should make a serious offer for di Maria – even though the relatively low dribble success rate requires consideration.

It’s impressive that the much discussed Raheem Sterling meets all our criteria at the age of 20. The main issue with him too is the potential transfer fee. It might turn out to be a bit too high for a player who is sometimes inefficient and has caused some discussions off the pitch. Chelsea’s Victor Moses impressed during his loan spell at Stoke and offers good value for money. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another interesting player who moves explosively but still lacks that last bit of verification at the international level.

Primera Division

PlayerAgeValue% Dribbles wonDribblesKey PassesShots
Lionel Messi27120 Mio.55%4,72,65
Neymar2380 Mio.52%3,71,93,4
Isco2345 Mio.55%3,32,11,7
Fede Cartabia225 Mio54%2,81,82,6
Gael Kakuta233,5 Mio52%2,51,92
As of: 17.05.2015, Source: WhoScored.com, Transfermarkt.de

Two players are a perfect match for our indicators. Neymar and Messi are obviously off the cards for Bayern. Kakuta, currently on loan at Rayo Vallecano from Chelsea, and Cartabia, who plays for the currently last-placed Cordoba, clearly play strong individual seasons but are no real alternatives for Bayern. Isco is no traditional winger, although he frequently plays such a role in Madrid.

What mainly surprises here is who completely missed the mark. Antoine Griezmann is way below expectations in two categories (0.9 key passes and 1.1 dribbles) yet scored a remarkable 22 goals with 2.9 shots per 90 minutes. Our analysis can’t remove doubts over his dribbling skills, although it’s somewhat encouraging that his stats are a little better in the Champions League. Gareth Bale, albeit closely, couldn’t meet two of the three categories (2.3 dribbles, 1.8 key passes) but if his playing time in Madrid is reduced, he might turn into an interesting option for Bayern.

Serie A

PlayerAgeValue% Dribbles wonDribblesKey PassesShots
Juan Iturbe2119 Mio.55%3,31,12,3
Felipe Anderson2215 Mio.60%4,81,63
Lorenzo Insigne2315 Mio.50%1,82,93,8
Diego Perotti267 Mio.61%3,82,11,6
Stand: 17.05.2015, Quelle: WhoScored.com, Transfermarkt.de

Not a single player managed to meet all criteria. Some very interesting players got close, though, such as Lorenzo Insigne and mainly Felipe Anderson. Both are brilliant dribblers. However, Napoli’s Insigne is just returning from a ligament injury and has to be treated with caution, while Anderson celebrated his coming-out party at Lazio this season. 10 goals and 7 assists in 21 starts are impressive numbers for the Brazilian who can play on either wing. Such a good season will only increase his value. He’s a perfect fit for the job profile and is still relatively affordable. Anderson should be high on Bayern’s list.

Altersbedingt den Cut verpasst hat Dries Mertens, der bereits 28 Jahre alt ist. Mit 2,4 erfolgreichen Dribblings/90, 2,9 Torschussvorlagen/90 und 3,3 Schüssen/90 erfüllt er die Kriterien. 18 Millionen Euro Marktwert sind ebenfalls realistisch. Trotzdem ist die angestrebte Verjüngung mit einem Spieler, der im Laufe der kommenden Saison bereits 29 wird nur schwer zu erreichen.

A player who missed the mark due to age is Dries Mertens, who’s already 28 years old. He meets the statistical criteria, creating 2.4 successful dribbles, 2.9 key passes and 3.3 shots per 90 minutes. A market value of €18m sounds realistic, as well. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to start a rejuvenation with a player who’s about to turn 29.

Champions League

PlayerAgeValue% Dribbles wonDribblesKey PassesShots
Lucas Moura2232 Mio.61%5,52,32,1
Markel Susaeta2711 Mio.45%3,23,52,2
Yacine Brahimi2516 Mio.73%5,50,91,8
Christian Tello239 Mio.73%32,81,8
Ferreira Carrasco217,5 Mio53%4,21,23,3
Ricardo Kishna202 Mio.54%5,63,71,7
As of: 17.05.2015, Source: WhoScored.com, Transfermarkt.de

A look at the Champions League stats reveals another handful of interesting names, the main one being Lucas Moura. An extraordinary player in one-on-one situations, he’s a very explosive yet sometimes wasteful dribbler. PSG already paid €40m for him two years ago. Following a disappointing first season, his second year was a lot more promising until a thigh injury sidelined him. Bayern should and will take him into consideration due to his profile being a perfect fit. The big question is if he’s available and, if yes, what the asking price would be.

Also impressive are the numbers of Porto’s Yacine Brahimi, the dribble success rate in particular. The stats prove why he’s been linked with Bayern, although the key passes leave a bit to be desired. Anyhow, it would be a very expensive deal as the release clause appears to lie at €50m.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, the Belgian playing for Monaco, is a very exciting prospect and impressed in the French league, providing 15 assists. Eindhoven’s Memphis Depay, set to join Manchester United and only active in the Europa League this season, meets the criteria in the Eredivisie. Basel’s 18-year-old talent Breel Embolo just barely missed the mark.

Classification

CategoryPlayer
Definite improvmentEden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Angel Di Maria, Kevin de Bruyne
On the brinkRaheem Sterling, Lucas Moura, Felipe Anderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Yacine Brahimi, Roberto Firmino, Lorenzo Insigne
U21 with potentialJulian Draxler, Julian Brandt, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Juan Iturbe
SleeperKarim Bellarabi, Markel Susaeta, Filip Kostic, Diego Perotti, Victor Moses

In the end, Bayern will have to make a fundamental decision. If the club wants a player who immediately helps the team at the highest level, a big investment is required and they’d probably have to spend more than €40m. To be fair, that’s an appropriate number for a player who’d be supposed to challenge Robben and Ribery next season and take over their tasks in the following years. Naturally the risk of wasting money increases with a higher fee, which is why it’s so important to be absolutely sure of a signing. Hazard and Sanchez would be the safest bet but it’s doubtful that either is available. Di Maria, de Bruyne, Brahimi and Sterling appear to be the most realistic options of the highest price segment. Bale and Griezmann deserve a mention as well, despite failing our test.

An alternative to a €40-60m transfer could be to sign one or two younger players who are on the brink to the top tier or offer good value for money. The failed development of Xherdan Shaqiri has to act as an example of how not to do it. That being said, the opportunity for playing time and further development is as big as ever now, due to the age of Robben and Ribery. Players like Anderson, Insigne, Firmino or Draxler should be potential signings of this style that could be complemented by an even younger talent such as Brandt.

Bayern’s success over the upcoming 2-4 years is closely related to the personnel decisions on the offensive wing. The club is about to enter an important transfer period. As our scouting report proved, there are more than enough candidates.

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