This is our “prospecting the prospects” series, where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game next season– our directory for these (over 20!) is here. This series analyses a selection of significant newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) in FPL, then provide our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the new season.
In one of the early confirmed moves of the post-season, on 19th May Brighton confirmed the signing of German midfielder Pascal Gross from relegated Bundesliga side Ingolstadt.
Manager Chris Hughton enthused about his first signing of the window that:
He offers something different to our existing midfielders, as an attacking midfielder in a more advanced position, operating behind the forward line; he will give us a different and new option going into the new season
Having played in a relegated side last season, perhaps Gross is glad to make the move away from his former surroundings and join a team on the up.
Prospecting the prospect (using last season’s data)
Appearances: 33 appearances (31x played over 60 mins, 2x subbed on/off) = 64 points ((31×2)+2)
Goals: 5 goals (5×5) = 25 points
Assists: 4 assists (4×3) = 12 points
Bonus: Let’s analyse the games he contributed in. This covers goals and assists for midfielders.
(Occasional random bonus points (bps) are sometimes awarded in FPL where a player has bossed it but not actually got on the score card. We’re not estimating these as we’re using pure data rather than contextual data (e.g. watching the games he played in) to make perform this analysis. Plus it’ll only be an extra one or two points either way, which won’t change the story.)
For goals: this is best looked at by breaking down his contribution to games – where he was undisputed difference in the game, we will assign 3bps; where he was involved in changing the result but didn’t win the match, it’s 2bps; where he was on the scoresheet but it wasn’t a telling contribution, we will give the metrics and make an approximation
Match winning: Gross did not score any match winning goals this year.
Result change: He scored a penalty (3 of his 5 goals last term were from the spot) in the 1-1 draw with Schalke on 20th May (the final day of the season) to equalise. This may have netted him 2bps, especially as fellow player Dario Leczano took a penalty later in the game and missed it.
Contributions: Gross scored on 4 other occasions. He scored the opening goal in Ingolstadt’s 3-1 victory over Hamburg on 28th January. He scored the second goal – a penalty – against Eintracht Frankfurt in 18th February in their 2-0 win. He scored the opener in the 3-2 victory over Darmstadt on 9th April. He also put Ingolstadt 2-1 up against Werder, again from the spot, in the eventual 4-2 loss on 22nd April. He may have been in the mix for bonus for the victories, certainly, so let’s give him 2bps assuming nabbed a point from two of those games.
Total guessimated bonus for goals: 4 points
For assists: Of Gross’ 4 assists, 3 were meaningful. On 18th December, he assisted the winner in the 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen, whilst also being deemed man of the match by WhoScored. In the 2-2 draw with FC Koln on 11th March, he assisted the equaliser but managed to pick up a yellow card in last minutes of that game, jeopardising any bonus allocation. He assisted the winner on 2nd April in the 2-1 victory over Mainz, though, and three days later (on 5th April) he assisted the second goal in Ingolstadt’s 3-2 victory over Augsburg. The assists for the winner v Leverkusen could have netted him 2bps if he was MoTM as well, and we’ll give him a further bonus point from one of the other fixtures to give him a further 3bps from assists.
Total guesstimated bonus: 7 points.
Not conceding:3 clean sheets (3×1) = 3 points
Disciplinary: 5 yellow cards = –5 points / 0 red cards
Scores on the doors
106 points. Considering he played 33 of Ingolstadt’s matches last season, that gives him a 3.21ppg (points per game, worked out: 106/33) which, when extrapolated to cover all 38 matches gives him a total of 122 points if he’d been in FPL last season.
That’s equal to Theo Walcott in the top 60 players in FPL last year 1 ahead of the likes Cesc Fabregas and Laurent Koscielny, in the top 30 for midfielders – 4 points below Nathan Redmond. Not too bad.
Evaluation and conclusion
A lot of Gross’ relevance to FPL will depend on his pricing. If he gets a 4.5 rating, there’s a good chance he will be in the majority of squads as the 5th midfielder as he offers that bit more attacking threat than your average bear (e.g. Darren Fletcher). However, given the aforementioned threat, I’d think that that’s unlikely, with 5.0 being the designation we think he will receive.
I wonder whether that will ever tempt FPL managers. A lot depends on what comes out of the price bracket there, with several options to be revealed perhaps when the game unlocks on w/c 10th July.
What we can do is make a comparison with a similar sort of player. I’m thinking that, given Brighton’s underdog status, someone like Hull’s Sam Clucas might be relevant here. Capable of playing in the centre or on the left, as Gross is, Clucas became the quietly effective core of Hull’s attack come the end of the season, scoring 3 and assisting another to end up with 89 points for Hull (which sits outside the top 100). In terms of 5.0 midfielders with creative potential, it could be that WBA’s James Morrison, whom saw limited minutes this year, is also a decent comparator. Averaging 3.25 assists per season but capable of posting strong stats for creativity (his personal best was in 2012/13, where 5g 8g elicited an output of 133 points), he could represent the kind of player level Gross could ape should he start producing. I think that that kind of level of output will be where Gross will end up, unless he really flourishes from the outset.
It also looks like the key output for his goals – penalties – will not be his, with Tomer Hemed or Glenn Murray seemingly the men on spot kicks for Brighton.
One thing in Gross’ favour, beyond his comparators (I couldn’t find one in his price bracket – @wh) is the sheer amount of chances he creates – Squawka data shows that he created a humongous 99 chances for Ingolstadt last season, of which, as we’ve seen only 4 were converted to goals. That’s a pretty decent 3 chances per game – for context, that 1 more chance than Mesut Ozil created last season. The challenge will be if Brighton’s boys at the front will be able to put away the chances he creates (assuming he transitions seamlessly to the Premier League), which, given it’s their maiden season in the Premier League this year, seems far from certain.
With a tough opening game against MCI, and the next 5 reading lei wat WBA bou NEW, the portents are mixed for Gross. If we are to take a Brighton option, as Nick pointed out elsewhere, Anthony Knockaert is likely to be the man highest in our thoughts, followed probably by new record signing Mat Ryan in goal (as we pointed out in our most recent 5 asides).
Gross, then, needs to be 4.5 to appeal to the mainstream, or could be the 5th mid in a 3-5-2 if 5.0, however I’m really doubtful whether FPL managers will take the plunge in that regard without any performances in the Premier League to base that on.
With that in mind, plus all the doubts around how both team and player will transition into the top tier, I’m going to probably be giving Gross a miss from the beginning as, yet again, he’s probably only going to be one I pay attention to should a bandwagon form.
Overall rating: 2 / 5 – A below average prospect for FPL
*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent
Caveat: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do.