Today’s big news seems to be that Pedro to Manchester United is official, and that they’re still in for Thomas Muller as well, while Manchester City should be announcing the signing of Nicolas Otamendi today. The SVM seems to think that Pedro will be good cover in United’s attacking 4 (a ~1 point loss), while it likes Thomas Muller’s potential a little less (~4 points down).
The other news is disappointing to me for a couple of reasons. Nicolas Otamendi anchored my Mantova back line for a few seasons in FM 2014, and while he was always a little disappointing I became a big fan. The SVM seems to agree with Football Manager – Otamendi replacing Mangala is the biggest gain or loss I’ve seen so far in a player, with a ~14 point drop. That seems really high to me, but after watching Kompany and Mangala against Chelsea yesterday I’m less excited about a replacement. I’m also a big City supported, and surely Otamendi isn’t the long-term replacement for Kompany when he retires. Take a look at the graph to see the effects of the three players on their respective teams, but Chelsea should consider themselves lucky to have missed out on Otamendi (and to have bought Zouma last year who I’ve been a fan of for a couple of years).
My big point from today’s transfer round-up is that when you get up into the level that Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, etc. are, there aren’t a lot of players that can significantly improve the team, especially given how even good players can upset the balance of the stats in a team. You see this a lot with Barcelona – they don’t buy a ton of players, but when they do, they buy elite players who are an improvement over the already elite team they have (Suarez and Neymar over Pedro and David Villa for example, or ter Stegen over Victor Valdes). The EPL has so much money that they panic/hype buy, and the teams are often worse off because of it.
The one guy we’ve been hearing rumblings about is John Stones from Everton. He’s 21 years old, so he has plenty of room to grow (especially if he’s mentored by a veteran like Vincent Kompany or John Terry), and had a world class season last year. I know Everton isn’t looking to sell him, but you think they could be convinced to sell for the prices we’re hearing for Otamendi (Otamendi’s listed at $25 million, Stones is only at $13 million). He’s a small improvement for City, Chelsea, and Arsenal, and is a significant (~4 points) for United.
The moral of the story is to improve where you’re weakest (instead of buying all the attackers), and be more selective in your buys. Too many EPL teams do the opposite, and it’s one reason why they’re struggling in Europe despite having an embarrassment of riches.