We’re in the home stretch on the attacking transfer dossiers, with Serie A the last major league I am expecting to cover this summer*. For those who are new to this series, the point is to try and unearth interesting and valuable players that are probably not household names… yet. And the conceit is that I try and do it via statistical analysis, as opposed to listening to expert opinion, or just following along with what the media says.
As of this past weekend, noted expert and Match of the Day pundit Mark Lawrenson hadn’t even seen Isco play. That sort of stance on young players isn’t just avant garde, it’s bleeding edge. It takes a special kind of expert to say, “Fah, so what if he’s been in the Champions’ League. I only care when he starts playing in the Premier League.” There will be none of that here, let me assure you.
*Unless someone decides to ship me a raft of data from any other Euro countries, in which case I will happily continue the journey of the S.S. Moneyball.
The Quirks of Serie A
I have mentioned that Serie A is a bit of a statistical anomaly both on Twitter and in slightly longer form. Most of Serie A’s leaders in Key Passes for the last two seasons were 29 or older, so I had some concern that the league might be a wasteland for young talent that we would be interested in. It turns out I needn’t have worried – Serie A is packed with some younger studs, provided you know where to look.
Let’s start with the most talked-about young transfer target of the summer.