I’m taking a look at today’s three big transfer rumors : Karim Benzema to Arsenal, Harry Kane to Man United, and Kevin de Bruyne to Manchester City, and seeing if they would help the destination teams. The only one that looks like it’s worth the money would be Harry Kane to Man United, giving them a 5.2 point boost and moving their expected finish above their two major rivals Man City and Liverpool into 3rd place (and into the Champions League places).
To find the scores, I calculate the expected points for each team with the current player in the position (Giroud, Nasri, and Ashley Young*). Then I calculate the expected points with the new player in the position (Benzema, de Bruyne, and Kane), and take the difference of the two. Positive numbers mean a net gain in points from buying the new player, negative numbers mean a net expected loss.
The graph shows that only one of the three players will improve the current squad: Harry Kane to Manchester United. The other two players will actually slightly lower the expected points – Benzema being 1.2 points worse than Giroud, and de Bruyne being 2.4 points worse than Samir Nasri. Why Benzema would be a bad move is pretty straightforward – he passes quite a bit more than Giroud and while he holds up the ball well and creates space for Ronaldo at Madrid, but that’s presumably not the role he’d be expected to fill at Arsenal. This was a bit surprising in terms of star power difference between the two, but not too surprising when you think about the types of strikers they are.
De Bruyne is a little tougher: he shoots more than Nasri (~1 shot a game) but only adds slightly to the shots on target number. The biggest advantages Nasri have, and what I *think* is generating the extra couple points in the model are Nasri is a little stronger defensively and passes quite a bit better than de Bruyne (13 extra successful passes a game and a higher accuracy percentage). This isn’t too surprising given that he could never really find a home at Chelsea, and City’s attacking mids are of a similar quality to Chelsea’s (especially with the Sterling transfer).
Two caveats: This assumes the same level of performance as last year, and it doesn’t take into account injuries/suspensions/rotation. Presumably with the money being talked about for these players, none of them would be backups to the current starting XI so I’m comfortable with that assumption, but one could easily make the argument that Arsenal need a second top level striker to Benzema may be worth it for different reasons.
* For United the replacement isn’t as straightforward so after doing some significant shifting of last week’s line-up I put Rooney in the #10 spot and Kane up front, Mata on the right and Depay on the left, leaving Ashley Young on the bench