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Andre Gomes and Barcelona

Replacing a player like Andreas Iniesta is never an easy task. However, his successor Andre Gomes was destined to fail from the very beginning of his spell in Catalonia.

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Andre Gomes/AFP

Data shows that Gomes does not have sufficient creativity or distribution skills. Achieving similar results as Iniesta is almost impossible for him.

What statistics should Barcelona look at?

  • Through-balls - A passes that cross the line of three opponents. One of the most essential creative models that helps data scouts measure how a player is able to move a ball across the lines forward.
  • Dribbling - technique and one-on-one situations.
  • Expected assists (xA) - Creative players can often be overlooked because their attacker does not score a goal when receiving a pass from them. With the xA model, we see whether the player is sending the ball to the right space. Even if forward does not succeed, statistics will take into account the contribution made by creative players.
  • Passes into the box - Successful pass into the opponent's box.
  • DangerZoneEntries - How many times a player gets a ball into a so-called DangerZone, it can be by a pass or a dribble.

Comparison of Iniesta and Gomes

  xA Dribbling Through-balls PiB / DzE Passes / %
Iniesta 0,07 4,3 / 73% 2,05 7,6 / 4,45 66 / 88%
Gomez 0,02 2,4 / 51% 0,15 1,7 / 1,59 42 / 91%

Gomes does not match Iniesta in any of these statistics. Barcelona scouted the wrong player, but with the help of the data, they could easily see that the transfer won't work.

The player who cost €37 million was granted less and less game time. He played a total of 3837 minutes, scored 3 goals and made 4 assist. In the summer, he was loaned to Everton and will almost certainly lose his value. With data analytics, this transfer could be stopped at the very beginning.

Who should Barcelona sign?

Iniesta's statistics clearly show what Barcelona needs. And that is a technical player with a high number of through-balls.

Possible transfer: Marco Verratti

  xA Dribbling Through-balls PiB / DzE Passes / %
Iniesta 0,07 4,3 / 73% 2,05 7,6 / 4,45 66 / 88%
Verratti 0,12 2,96 / 70% 1,66 5,57 / 2,66 93 / 92%

Verratti replicates Iniesta's skills and given Barcelona's dominant style, his numbers could grow there considerably. Also, he earns twice as many balls as the Spanish player.

Possible transfer: Coutinho

  xA Dribbling Through-balls PiB / DzE Passes / %
Iniesta 0,07 4,3 / 73% 2,05 7,6 / 4,45 66 / 88%
Coutinho 0,16 4, 03/ 56% 1,84 10,54 / 3,53 47,81 / 81%

Barcelona learned from their mistake, and eventually signed Coutinho, who is a much better choice. He is showing similar numbers as Iniesta. Moreover, the Brazilian player is more dangerous because of his outstanding shot abilities. Coutinho has 0.33 xG, which is six times more than Iniesta.

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