This is our “prospecting the prospects” series, where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game as the transfer window newcomers arrive. This series analyses a selection of these newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using the season’s stats so far (wherever they played) as if they had been in FPL, then providing our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the coming period.
On 30th January, Manchester City announced the signing of Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for a club record fee of £57m:
Defensive reinforcements acquired! 💪🇫🇷
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 30, 2018
Laporte came through the ranks at Athletic Bilbao and, given the clubs famous “Basque-only” policy, is only the second Frenchman – after Fifa Road To World Cup favourite Bixente Lizarazu – to play there. At 23, he’s been a member of the Rojiblancos’ first team for 5 years already, and has been widely coveted by top clubs across Europe. Pep Guardiola has been a known admirer of the defender for some time, and it was not surprising to see his Manchester City pay the release clause.
So how good will City’s record signing be in FPL? We used Laporte’s WhoScored stats to assess just how good an FPL prospect he might be.
Prospecting the prospects (using this season’s data so far)
Appearances: 19 appearances (all 90 minutes) = 38 points
Goals: 0 goals
Assists: 1 assist (1×3) = 3 points
Clean sheets: 7 clean sheets (7×4) = 28 points
Bonus: To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we’ve reviewed the games he would have delivered points in to come to a rough number. We’ve done this by researching all the games and allocating probable bonus depending on how well he did.
Laporte received a yellow card in two of the games he also kept a clean sheet in, which would rule him out for bonus. Of the other 5, he would have been a candidate for BPS for two games: the close run 1-0 v Eibar on 27th August and the 0-0 with Real Sociedad on 16th December. Let’s give him 2 for the Eibar game and 3 for the Sociedad match. For the other games he would have been crowded out by the attackers, but let’s give him an extra 1 as perhaps somewhere he might’ve nabbed one as defenders sometimes do.
A note that he got his assist in a 2-2 draw with Getafe on 19th January – his final game for the club – but having conceded 2 in the match he wouldn’t be on for bonus.
Total bonus = 5 points
Disciplinary: 5 yellow cards = -5 points
Conceded more than 2: 7 = -7 points
Scores on the doors
62 points so far with that performance. That looks a bit off, so do a points per game score – which is 3.3 – and gross up to reflect 25 games so far played in the Premier League.
This gives us a slightly more respectable 82 points, 2 ahead of Alfie Mawson and 2 behind Jan Vertonghen – the 13th best defender in the Premier League.
Is the door open to him for your side?
Not the most encouraging by any stretch, but let’s remember that Bilbao are currently lying 12th in La Liga – the equivalent to a Bournemouth/Palace/West Ham (depending on time of reading). With his going to Man City, it might be reasonable to expect a rise in his performance.
I think a reasonable question to ask first is: who does he compete with in City’s backline? With Vincent Kompany’s glassy composition well-known and Mangala seen as an expensive mistake, it would appear the key suspects are Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones.
It would appear that, in defensive terms, Laporte occupies a middle ground between his two new team mates. He actually has won more tackles per 90 minutes (the fairest way to assess them given Stones’ injury travails) than Otamendi and Stones this season, winning 1.37 tackles per 90 compared to Otamendi’s 1.26 and Stones’ 0.76. Otamendi is the king of interceptions, with 1.74 per 90 compared to Laporte on 1.58 and ball-playing centre back Stones on just 1.13. Laporte comes into his own for blocks and clearances – he beats out Stones and Otamendi for blocks (0.58 per 90 v Otamendi’s 0.35 and Stones’ 0.33) and has also got the edge for clearances, too, with 4.79 per 90 compared to 3.6 for Otamendi and 2.61 for Stones.
Bearing in mind that Laporte plays for a team that shipped more chances – City keep the ball so much that their opposition tends to have limited chances per game – these numbers probably point to an equal playing field between the newcomer and incumbent duo.
It’s worth noting that Otamendi and Stones’ passing stats are also superior: their pass completion rate is 92% and 96% respectively, with Laporte only on 83%. If he can’t improve this at City, his potential for bonus will be diminished.
Otamendi also outclasses Laporte for goal attempts, averaging 1.09 per 90 compared to Laporte’s 0.37.
What we have with Laporte, then, seems to be a centre-back whose key strengths lie in clearances and blocks – something that the other two guys aren’t especially strong in. A defender that’s similar to him is his new cross-city rivals’ defensive lynchpin Phil Jones, who has managed an astonishing 6.53 clearances per 90 (v Laporte’s 4.79) and 0.63 blocks per game (marginally beating out Laporte’s 0.57). Though he offers very little going forward (his shots per 90 of 0.11 is testament to that) he’s an absolute bonus machine, having recorded 16 so far this season (an additional 4 clean sheets’ worth). If Laporte is able to maintain his clearances and blocks rate, and up his pass completion rate (which he will surely do under Pep) he may well be able to turn in to City’s answer to United’s screwy-faced defensive monster.
What seems likely for now is that Laporte has been bought as backup to Stones and Otamendi, to be eased in over time and eventually compete for the front line. He’s young and will have an adjustment period to go through, meaning that he is unlikely to be thrust into the first team straight away.
City’s run in also doesn’t bring with it much encouragement for defensive investment until Gameweek 35, with tough fixtures dotted around that will test their suspect defence.
I think the biggest ramification of the arrival of Laporte in FPL is that it could signal the end of the meta love for Otamendi, whose 32% ownership at the time of writing – myself included – will no doubt be nervous about this rotation prospect after the clear run he’s had thus far. The signing of the French defender may cause owners to cash out in the near future and reallocate funds elsewhere, which may have trickle-down impacts on the template.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 31, 2018
We nailed the guess on the price as he started v WBA. I think he’s still one to wait and watch on, though.
So – all in all, one to watch maybe for next season to see how he develops. I think Laporte obviously has potential, and could well turn into City’s bonus hog in chief should he mimic Phil Jones in future. For now, though, it’s an avoid for me.
Overall rating: 2 / 5 – A below above average prospect for FPL (for the rest of this season, at least!)
*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent