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.
On Sunday 10th June, news filtered through that Swedish central defender Victor Lindelof was joining Man Utd from Portugese Primeira Liga champions Benfica in a £31m deal. He had looked to be on his way in the winter transfer window – apparently being allocated a shirt number – but the transfer never materialised. However, it seems that, after a medical and other things are agreed, United have got their man:
Manchester United is pleased to announce that it has reached agreement with Benfica for the transfer of Victor Lindelof, subject to a medical examination, international clearance and personal terms.
(From the United website)
Lindelof will presumably come straight into the United “Best XI” at the expense of the serial physio table botherer Phil Jones and Mourinho’s favourite verbal punchbag Chris Smalling, with Marcos Rojo, who seems to have the manager’s trust, out until Xmas. Alongside the impressive Eric Bailly, Lindelof could form part of the meanest looking centre-back pairing since Ferdinand-Vidic.
Prospecting the prospect (using last season’s data)
So, let’s look at how many points he would have got if he was in for FPL last year, using the Squawka data for his performance last season, plus our experience with the (sometimes nebulous) FPL bonus system:
Appearances: 32 appearances (all starts) = 64 points (32×2). n.b. no points deducted for conceding more than 3 goals.
Goals: 1 goal = 6 points.
Assists: 0 assists.
Not conceding: 20 clean sheets = 80 points (20×4).
Bonus: Let’s analyse the games he contributed in. This (of course) covers goals, assists and clean sheets.
(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: his solitary goal came in the 1-1 score draw with arch-rivals Sporting Lisbon on 22nd April. That kind of contribution usually puts you in the mix for 1 or 2bps, so let’s give him 1 there, as there are usually a lot of 1bp spread around in those kinds of games.
- For assists: n/a
- For clean sheets: Benfica kept a scarcely believable twenty clean sheets across their 34 games last season, with Lindelof present for all of them. Throughout the course of the season, there were three goalless draws (v. Setúbal on 28th January; v. Belenenses on 11th March; and v. Paços de Ferreira on 19th March) for which we might reasonably say Lindelof was in competition for 2 or 3bps as a result. Let’s say he got 8 out of 9 available bonus for those. Across the other seventeen clean sheets, let’s assume he may have been in the mix for 1-2bps throughout those games, with getting 2 bps happening 4 times (rarer for a CB who doesn’t contribute to the scorecard) and 1bp happening 9 times. Overall, this gives him around 25 additional bonus points from clean sheets.
Total guesstimated bonus: 26 points (1+25)
Disciplinary: 1 yellow card = –1 points / 0 red cards
Scores on the doors
175 points overall. That’s pretty solid – if he was in FPL with that score last year with that score, he would’ve been in the top 20* players. That’s 3rd amongst defenders
Considering Lindelof played 32 out of Benfica’s 34 games, let’s see how he would have done if he played every minute of the Portuguese season. His points per game (ppg) works out at a healthy 5.46ppg (i.e 175/32). If he’d have played 34, that puts him at 185 points: in FPL, that’s equal above Gylfi Sigurdsson and 9th overall, and 3th best defender overall behind the Chelsea duo of Gary Cahill and Marcos Alonso, ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta.
We could also ramp that up to reflect the 38 games in the Premier League, which would take us to a scarcely believale 207 points – still behind the Chelsea boys to top in the defender rankings, and 6th in the overall rankings, ahead of KdB. Wow.
*we cannot give later ranks exactly as there are a lot of tied players – for higher ranks, we can assign that more confidently
Evaluation and conclusion
Of course, allowing for injuries, suspensions and rotation, Lindelof probably will not achieve that score. With Mourinho complaining loudly about the amount of games United had had to play the season just gone, and if they get deep into all competitions they partake in (surely the bare minimum requirement for United is the quarter finals in all competitions), it’s possible that rotation play a role later in the season. Also, United surely will not keep clean sheets at the same phenomenal ratio as a dominant Benfica did in the top Portuguese league. Additionally, the lack of attacking returns (in contrast to Gary Cahill with 6 goals or Marcos Alonso with the same number of goals plus 5 assists) would be a real concern, with the meta moving toward favouring wing-backs the FPL defensive assets of choice.
That said, United may not be as all conquering as Benfica given the multipolar nature of the Premier League, the partnership with Bailly still looks very mean and has to be first choice. Mourinho’s expertise in shutting down teams and keeping clean sheets (cf. his first time at Chelsea) has to also count in his favour.
The big issue will be price. If he’s a 5.5, as Bailly was last season, he could be a serious FPL prospect. However, with the price projections we have made currently in mind, that space could be a highly crowded one, with many of the “must have” forwards such as Kane surely pencilled in for a premium pricetag next season. Bailly will surely be given a bump to 6.0, but will Lindelof receiving a 6.0 too would surely write him off as a prospect.
EDIT: Bailly has been given 6.0 – will that mean Lindelof will get a 5.5?
— FPL (@OfficialFPL) July 11, 2017
It remains to be seen if we will have space for a non-goal scoring centre back next year, so for that reason we cannot call him a “good” prospect outright. However, if he does develop that side of his game, or if United go on a clean sheet streak, he may suddenly come on to many an FPL manager’s radar.
Overall rating: 3.5 / 5 – A fairly good* 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.