As a Premier League neutral West Ham are usually one of my favourite teams, especially last season. I felt for West Ham fans when Dimitri Payet chose to force a move away from West London. Robert Snodgrass was brought in in January as his replacement, or close to. In this article I’ve used some simple data scouting using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that I’d look for if I was recruiting for West Ham.
KPIs and Method
I started off by looking at Payet. He was key to their success last season and still important to them this season. So, to find a replacement you need to look at what he brings to the team, and therefore need to replace.
Payet’s radars from his time at West Ham are impressive. The shape he produces is that of an elite passer and playmaker, very similar to Özil. So, the first thing I looked for was Key Passes. Looking just at the top five leagues in Europe I searched for players with over two Key Passes per 90 (KP/90). Payet produced 4.1 KP/90 this season, the best in the top 5 leagues.
This gave me 51 players. As you can see below it’s a real mix of players which include Messi, Neymar and 36 year old defensive-minded midfielder Pedretti from Nancy.
My next step was to narrow down these 51 players to those who are achievable signings. This was done by removing those who play for large teams and are worth more than £10 million.
Deciding which teams qualify as ‘big teams’ is quite subjective, Gladbach, RB Leipzig, AC Milan and Lyon are teams that people would differ on.
Although, I don’t advocate the use of TransferMarkt values for analysis I have used them here. I’m not using them to evaluate players, just using as a general guideline for who is an achievable signing.
This gave 18 players:
Here are still a few players which can’t fill the role of Payet, 5 players were eliminated here as they either played too far forward or back compared to Payet.
The list was then shortened to 9 candidates when I removed players aged 30 or over.
It’s worth nothing that Payet’s actual replacement, Robert Snodgrass is still in the 9 man shortlist.
At this stage I referred back to Payet’s radar shown at the top. His best attributes are passing/creativity and dribbling. West Ham need a player who can take on defenders to replace Payet.
Refining this shortlist of 9, I filtered out players with less than two successful dribbles per 90 minutes and if they didn’t succeed in more than 50% of their attempted dribbles.
And then there were three…
Here is Payet’s radars to compare:
1) Ryad Boudebouz
Looking at his radars the Algerian playmaker looks like a good fit to Payet’s style. Looking at Payet’s radar from 15/16 (left) and Boudebouz’s from this season (right), they’re both very similar and impressive.
Boudebouz produces 0.31 xA /90 in Ligue 1 and TransferMarkt value him at just £6,380,000, a good price in my opinion. He has been linked with teams like West Brom and Everton. His key pass rate really sticks out to me with 3.5/90, the second best in the top five leagues, behind Payet. He is an agile playmaker with a lot of creative talent.
Ligue 1 has been a hot bed for cheap talents who go onto have great careers in England, e.g Mahrez, Payet and Kante to name a few, and Boudebouz could be next even aged 27.
My only concern is his slight stature and the difference between this season and last season could suggest that either is a one off in terms of scoring. But, with consistent playmaking output this wouldn’t worry me.
He is a key player in the Montpellier side that currently sits 13th in Ligue 1 and makes 13.1% of their passes per 90 and make a key pass to 26.7% of Montpellier’s shots, a huge playmaking influence. Also, this season he has supplied 28.6% of Montpellier’s shots. He is key for them but with their poor league position maybe he might be looking for a move away.
Also, he has scored two from sixteen free kicks this season and is a strong set piece taker according to WhoScored, another important attribute lost in Payet’s departure.
2) Óscar Trejo
Another Ligue 1 player that game up on my shortlist, who players for ninth placed Toulouse. Trejo is lacking shot quantity and doesn’t supply a lot in scoring contribution, but is a very successful dribbler and playmaker and has great defensive contribution.
0.22 xA /90 is pretty decent shows his creativity. Trejo has made 7.3% of Toulouse’s total passes this season and assisted 41.1% of Toulouse’s shots this season. I don’t know how much Toulouse press or Trejo’s exact role but his mix or attacking influence and defensive contribution is very impressive. This is where I’d use video analysis if I had more time.
These are the only two Toulouse pass maps I could find from @11tegen11. Both of which Trejo is positioned high up the pitch in a 4-2-3-1. Both maps show that he has a lot of movement side to side and like to spread passes wide to their wingers. The larger dot size, particularly on the right, show his influence and number of touches he gets.
His radar is less impressive and lacking in two very noticeable areas; being dispossessed too often and not shooting often. He attempted a lot of dribbles, and succeeds in 63.4% of them in the last two seasons. That’s very impressive. Payet completed dribbles at 56.8% last season.
The 28 year old is valued at just £1.91 million by TM and could be a steal for a Premier League club who comes looking.
3) Alejandro Gomez
The Atalanta winger in Calcio A is the final suggestion. His radar shape is very similar to that of Payet’s, but without the assist rate. Unfortunately, I don’t know where to find any Calcio A xG or xA data. His key pass rate is up quite a bit from last season so not sure how consistent this output is.
He looks to be an impressive dribbler who produces a lot of key passes. He has 9 goals so far this season, 0.363 per 90. He shoots a decent amount but his low conversion rate suggests poor shot selection, this could is backed up by him taking 54.7% of shots from outside of the box. I don’t know the average for wingers but this feels quite high, but not extreme.
The 29 year old Argentine international is worth £9.35 million according to TransferMarkt. Much higher than the other two on the final shortlist.
Any of these three that qualified are viable options for West Ham in summer. I want to say Boudebouz is the best option but I’d need video analysis and to see how they’d each fit into Bilic’s system before making a proper decision.
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