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How to use data during contract negotiations

Updated: May 26, 2021


Last month it came into the news that Kevin de Bruyne negotiated a new contract with his club Manchester City worth over £20 Million a season.

A contract this size is not surprising for a player like Kevin de Bruyne, however, what is surprising is that he negotiated this contract on his own. De Bruyne used data analytics, to negotiate with Manchester City about his new deal. De Bruyne was able to point out his true value to the City squad based on what the data showed. This resulted in him getting a 30% salary increase and a 2-year contract extension, so overall this was a huge success for all parties involved.


In the article, we will be looking at how you can use data reports during contract negotiations. We will discuss how players can use a data report, and show an example of how a player would be able to use it.


How to use a Data report during contract negotiations

Contract extension talks usually happen for the following three main reasons:

  1. A player is almost out of contract and will be transfer free without a new contract

  2. A player is having a fantastic season and thinks he should be valued higher

  3. Another club has a lot of interest in a player and the selling club doesn't want to let him go

For players, it's good to know how important they are to the team, as this will allow them to show what they are worth. Using data is a very good way to show this because data will always be independent and it will give you unbiased information. It will be extra useful for a player to compare himself against these teammates based on his overall skill level and different event data. This is exactly what Kevin de Bruyne did to negotiate a new and better contract.


Which FACTS report would you be able to use?

During contract negotiations, the most useful report would be the club report that FACTS currently offers. This report consists of three elements that are all very useful during negotiations. Below we are going to explain this report, first on the basis of some examples of different players and how each section looks, and after we will take an in-depth look at the club report made for Memphis Depay.


FACTS Club Report

FACTS currently offers a club report that shows all the aspects a player would need. The report is built upon three key comparisons.

  1. Player Level development

  2. Player Level comparison against his teammates

  3. Key event data

We will now take a quick look at each point to see how it looks and how it can be useful during a negotiation.


Player Level development

In the picture below we can see the Player Level development from Simon Kjær who is currently playing at AC Milan.

Looking at the graph we can see that the current Player Level of Kjær is higher than the average team level of AC Milan, this shows that Kjær is one of the top performers in the team and also one of the key players. Furthermore, we see that Kjær is still improving his Player Level at the age of 32.


Player Level comparison against teammates

This graph will look at comparing the Player Level of the targeted player against his current teammates, so you can easily see how good the player actually is within the squad. You can use this graph to show the club how valuable your player is to the team in contract negotiations and why a player should earn more than his current teammates.


In the graph above we measured Digne against his teammates in Everton, and he is the 4th highest player in regard to Player Level. This shows the worth that Digne has in the team and how important he is. The graph also gives Digne a good negotiating position when talking about a potential new contract, because this allows him to show his skill against his teammates and why he should earn more.


Key event data

With the event data scatter plots we can point out certain strengths and weaknesses compared to other targeted players. This can be players from the club itself, but also players from other clubs in the same or a different league. This will allow you to show how your player is performing against other players.


In the first scatterplot, we compare Harry Souttar against other premier league defenders based on aerial duels and how many of these are won.

In the scatterplot, it becomes clear that this is a clear strength of Souttar as none of the other Premier League defenders even come close. Souttar engages in the most aerial duels per 90 minutes and also wins more aerial duels than any other defender.


Next up if we look at the number of duels Souttar engages in and how many of these he wins, we can see that he really stands out again. These two scatterplots combined really show some important strengths of a defender and Souttar standing out from any other Premier League defender. The scatterplots could be used in a potential negotiation to show how valuable Souttar really is as a defender.



Player example

After having looked at an example of a club report we will now examine the club report we made for Memphis Depay. Memphis is currently playing for Olympique Lyonnais, but his contract is running out this summer. This week Memphis announced on his Twitter that he will manage his own negotiations.

Memphis Depay is strongly linked with a future a Barcelona where he will be reunited with former national coach Ronald Koeman. Below we will take a look at the Player Level of Depay and how he will fit into the Barcelona squad as well as what his salary should be.


Player Development

Memphis Depay started at a young age in the youth teams of PSV where he eventually made his first-team debut in 2012. After 3 seasons in the first team of PSV Depay was ready for a new challenge and in 2015 he moved to Manchester United.

In his career development, we can see that he was indeed ready for the next step in his career, but unfortunately he never really got to develop at Machester United and also spend a lot of the time on the bench. This resulted in the drop of his Player Level and it was evident that Depay had to move away from United to be able to develop himself. In 2017 he decided to join Olympique Lyonnais and this was a remarkable transfer as it was the first so-called "laptop transfer". Depay chose to move Olympique because the data showed that this was the team that would be best suited for him. Looking at his career development we can see that this was an exceptionally good move for him as he managed to flourish again at his new club.


Team Comparison

First, we compared Depay against his current teammates, so we could see exactly how good he is and how important he is for the team. In the comparison below we can see that Depay is currently the best player in Olympique Lyonnais and that he indeed is ready for the next step in his career with a move to a better club.

After having looked at how Depay compared to his teammates in Olympique Lyonnais we also looked at how Depay would fit into the current Barcelona squad.


In the comparison above we can see that Depay would fit right into the Barcelona squad, with his current Player Level being just below the average team level. If we look at his potential development in the first graph we can see that Depay still has a lot of potential and can easily rise above the average team level of Barcelona if he manages to adapt to their playing style.


Strengths

We have now looked at his career development and how he fits in his current team and how he would potentially fit into the Barcelona team. We have also compared Depay against the strikers of Olympique Lyonnais and Barcelona to see what his strengths are compared to his peers. First, we will take a look at offensive duels and the percentage that are won.

In the scatterplot above we can really see that Depay is an offensive-minded player as he attempts a lot of offensive duels. Depay is also winning a lot of these duels which allows him to be dangerous on his own. Griezman for example also wins a lot of offensive duels but he only averages six offensive duels per 90 minutes whereas Depay manages to engage in 16 offensive duels.


That Depay is a very offensive player also shows in his dribbling stats, Depay really stands out from the other strikers with averaging a lot of dribbles and with a very high success rate. These 2 statistics combined show that Depay is a very dangerous player on his own and that he is able to create chances out of nowhere for his team.

For the last scatterplot, we are going to take a look at the goal involvement of Depay compared to the other strikers at Olympique Lyonnais and Barcelona. When analyzing the scatter plot we can instantly see Depay has the highest number of assists as he often allows his teammates to score goals with his vision and long passing. We also see that Griezman and Slimani are more involved with goals scored as they are more poachers whereas Depay is more of a deep-lying forward.


Conclusion

Currently, Memphis Depay is linked heavily to a potential move to Barcelona however, this is not the only team that is currently in the race to sign Depay this summer. The data above tells us that Depay would fit into the current Barcelona squad and he would be able to use this during his contract negotiation. According to The Sun, the players with a similar Player Level earn around £7m-£10m per year, so this would also be the figure Memphis should look at when negotiating.


The example we showed above can be made for every player that is currently engaged in contract negotiations and it shows how a player would be able to use data to help him. Data will give you an independent view of a player, the data can be used as underlying arguments on top of the experience of the player agent as it can be used complementary.


It will be very interesting to see if more players and agents decide to use more and more data as it will support given arguments without any bias.





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