Europe’s Most Valuable Strikers

Today’s post is meant as a follow-up to my post from a week ago detailing each team’s best possible striking option.  In that post, I found that most teams’ best option was to buy Theo Walcott, which was a bit of a surprise but matches up with what Goalimpact says fairly nicely (and apparently received the same “huh…that’s odd” reaction on Twitter). As a reminder, here’s the main chart from that post.

Best StrikerToday I ran a new analysis, looking at each striker’s added value for each of the 20 EPL teams and calculated their points above replacement value over the 25th percentile. What I’ve found is that the PAR measure as I currently calculate it is very team dependent, which I think is useful in some ways, for example if you were trying to find a replacement player for your current striker you’d want to know who fits into your team best. However, it isn’t as useful for comparisons between players across teams more generally. So what I did was calculate the number of points each team would earn with each striker in the database, just like in my previous post. Then I found the striker in the 25th percentile would earn, and subtracted that value from each striker’s expected points in the database.

As an example, I calculated the average score for Theo Walcott across all 20 EPL teams, which was ~63.4 points. I then subtracted the striker at the 25th percentile (Deportivo’s Lucas Perez) who earned ~55.5 points, arriving at an overall PAR value of ~7.9 points. I repeated this for all the strikers across the league and here are the top 20 most valuable strikers in Europe.

PAR Strikers

Theo Walcott is at the very top of the list, Leo Messi comes in at #4, Zlatan at #5, and Cristiano Ronaldo at #11. There are a few surprises on the list, but a lot of it looks like you’d expect. One could take issue with individual ratings, but keep in mind these are based on expected statistics, shots on goal are included but not goals scored1 and based off of a model trained on EPL data so you’d expect some changes if this was done in La Liga or Serie A.

Also, it’s interesting to me that after Walcott, the next 7 positions are virtually tied, and then the last 12 are virtually tied with each other. Someone like Ronaldo who finishes his chances significantly above expectation could easily move up 5 spots or more, so I understand why he’s lower than one might think.

The other interesting thing to me is that Glenn Murray finished as the #1 option for a few teams, but didn’t make the top 20 overall. That tells me he’s a really good option for a few teams, and a fairly bad one for many of the others.

This is just the latest iteration of the PAR project. I’m really in an exploratory data analysis mode right now, so I’m open to any feedback people have on other ways to do this. Follow me on Twitter @Soccermetric.


  1. Including goals scored causes the broader model to overfit and and skews things in any number of ways for non-strikers.

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