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By Lee Mooney.

Finding first-team defensive midfielders

This is the third of four short pieces aimed at identifying players to fill four playing roles (identified following a quick survey I did on Twitter):

  • Centre-back;
  • Left-back;
  • Defensive midfield; and
  • Right wing/forward.

The approach and techniques used are the same as those described in a TTT piece I wrote in March called ‘A Model to Identify Players’. If you haven’t read this piece, you’ll probably need to – just so that you understand the method, its weaknesses and the underlying assumptions. The model used for this piece has been modified slightly and uses newer data – but the basic ‘core’ remains unchanged.

Potential candidates

Typically, I like to provide links to these dashboards so that you can use them interactively. However, because of a connectivity problem, you will need to settle for images (if I solve the problem, I will provide the links in the comments section). The diagram below provides an overview of the talent pool that I have identified, which contains 79 potential candidates. These players are:

  • Defensive Midfielders
  • Aged between 19 and 27
  • Have a ‘Player Score’ exceeding 0.700
  • Have made an international appearance OR
  • Play for the equivalent of a Championship club or better

One of the challenges with this piece in particular was to distinguish genuine ‘specialist’ defensive midfielders from more generic ‘midfielders’. The technique I adopted was to compare multiple sources of information so that – hopefully – I was able to identify the ‘dominant’ description of the player’s role. This is perhaps 50% science and 50% art, but it’s the best I can do.

Each of the potential candidates has been reviewed in the context of a theoretical LFC budget for the role. Using an updated turnover number of £200m, and a slightly revised budgeting model, the colour-coding is as follows:

  • Overspend:                         more than £9,543,662
  • High Spend:                        £6,816,902 to £9,543,662
  • Sensible Spend:                 £4,771,831 to £6,816,902
  • Low Spend:                         £3,408,451 to £4,771,831
  • Very Low Spend:              less than £3,408,451

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