Darren Bent’s move to Aston Villa yesterday for a reported £18m (rising to £24m) has raised a few questions amongst the media and fans:
- how good is Darren Bent really?
- is he worth £18m+?
- are Aston Villa getting good value for their record fee?
To gain some perspective on all this, I’ve compiled some numbers showing the level of performance delivered by the top 20 strikers in the Premiership (+ 2 England strikers outside the top 20: Crouch and Heskey).
What we’re looking for is a link between transfer fee and performance to estimate the ‘value’ that the buying club has got from their investment.
This table compares players on their overall performance (as calculated by the Castrol Rankings) and their goals per game ratio in the English Premiership (as of 18 January 2011). These numbers are then combined by multiplying them together (CR*G/G) to balance the impact of out-and-out goalscorers and other forwards that make large contributions to play. The final column, divides the ‘quality score’ by the transfer fee to see how much “bang per buck” each provides, with higher numbers being ‘better’ – skewed info here, especially on free transfers/homegrown players!
[Limitations and problems with the usefulness of this data include: 'old' statistics such as Anelka's goals for Arsenal, small/large samples depending on how long the player has been in the Premiership and the transfer fee which may be free for homegrown players or reflecting factors such as age which we don't take into account here.]
So, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov come out as the 2 best players according to the Castrol Rankings, Fernando Torres for goalscoring and Torres overall when the 2 are combined. The colours divide the scores into the top, upper-middle, lower-middle and bottom quarters of results.
Turning our attention back to Darren Bent we can see a few things:
- Darren Bent is the 2nd best performing English striker
- he has the 4th best goals/game ratio in the Premiership
- he has the 7th highest combined ‘quality score’
- he is the 6th most expensive (ignoring Dzeko, too recent a signing to be included in stats)
These headline figures suggest he is fairly priced according to the current market.
The data also raises more questions:
- why isn’t Darren Bent England’s second choice striker?
- is Darren Bent equal to Nicolas Anelka in usefulness to his team?
- have Arsenal got themselves an £18m player for free in Marouane Chamakh?
- Darren Bent should be playing for England and above Defoe, Crouch, Carroll and Heskey in the pecking order
- £18m for a 26 year old goalscoring striker is fair value and Aston Villa have got themselves a very good player.