Lille Part 3: Squad Evaluation


In Part 1 and 2 of my Lille OSC series, I talked about creating a club ethos and evaluating their finances. You can read Part 1 and 2: here and here.

The ethos sets the club up for giving them a “guiding light” to drive the club forward, while looking at the finances we found Lille are currently financially mismanaged and need to reduce costs. We’re going to assume that they’ve reduced “other costs” but there is another cost they need to make lower and this leads us to the problem at hand: reducing the wage budget from €49 million to €24 million.

In my opinion, the analysis that could be beneficial to clubs is evaluating player wages. Are they getting paid fairly based on their performance level and how much they play? Are they getting overpaid, underpaid, or perfectly? These questions I can answer and will help us reduce the wage bill, as previously mentioned.

Below is the dashboard that evaluates most of the players Lille OSC have at their disposal to start next year. Due to time, I included everyone that are under contract by Lille OSC and played for Lille OSC, Royal Mouscron, Boavista, Troyes, Flamengo, Kortrijk, Pau FC, and Panathinaikos. It also includes a converted xSalary based on the level the loaned players were playing at. So for example, if a player was playing in a lower league, they’ll probably have a lower estimated salary but potentially a high xSalary because they’ve played a lot. Again, it all depends on their situation.

The estimated salaries are based on this source and this source (did some math to estimate). Some key things to look out for are:

  • One: It’s better to have the green dot greater than both the red and blue dots. That shows the player is giving you more value than what he is getting paid and is above average in playing ability. This is good.

  • Two: Conversely, if the blue dot is higher than the green dot, that means the player is getting overpaid based on his overall on-field contribution. This is bad.

  • Three: If the red and blue dots are about the same, that means clubs are paying the player fairly. This shows good practice.

So now, remember, we need to reduce the wage bill from €49 million to €24 million and there are already some clear candidates to be casualties to this. We can start by considering reports that Maignan, Soumaré, and Botman are all likely to be sold this summer so we can immediately take them off the list. In terms of having good value for money, Renato Sanchez, Burak Yilmaz, Jonathan David, Luiz Araujo, Jonathan Ikoné, Xeka, Orestis Karnezis, Jeremy Pied, Isaac Lihadji, Kouadio-Yves Dabila, and Adam Jakubech don’t fit that description. Out of the several games I’ve watched of Lille, some of these players are obviously excellent (Yilmaz, David, Sanchez immediately come to mind), but the question isn’t: “who is good and we need to keep?”; it’s rather “who brings us value?” Unfortunately a lot of these players are too costly given the situation. My decision would be to look to sell them or loan them out for the upcoming season. The one player that I’d probably keep that has a xSalary lower than his minute and and estimated salary is Tiago Djalo because of his age, low estimated salary, and his minute salary is the same as his estimated salary. Plus, he can play CB and RB.

As a side note, I do want to give huge kudos to Lille for Reinildo, André, Fonte, Celik, and Bamba. They're superb bits of business from an economic and player performance standpoint.

With these changes the squad is as below:

We have a few decisions to make now. We currently sit at just under €23 million, which is tight, and Lille are short in a few positions and have too many in a few positions. Lille are short for a striker or two, a winger/attacking midfielder, and a centre back. Yazici is the only out-and-out CF and needs help. Tim Weah and Angel Gomes could occasionally play there, but I’m not expecting them to start every week in that position. This issue will be looked at in Part 4. Regarding the winger/attacking midfielder problem, currently Lille have three LBs and one could maybe play further forward. I wouldn’t recommend Scotty Sadzoute, since he wasn’t great going forward last year in Ligue 2 with Pau FC, but we can take a look at Reinildo and Bradaric. In fact, let’s do this now quickly.

I created another dashboard to evaluate all of the players in Ligue 1 this year who played more than 107 minutes. Based on several factors, we can find out where players rank to the rest of the league. Keep in mind, these percentiles are based on their position - not everyone in the league. For example, a centre back and a forward could be at the same percentile for “Defense” but it just means the centre back is the “best" defensively among centre backs, while the forward is the “best” amongst forwards. Let’s take a quick look at Bradaric and Reinildo to see if they could potentially fill in further forward.

Based on the two radars above, Bradaric definitely seems most capable of playing further forward. In fact, he’s at the 72nd percentile of making an impact in the final 3rd among FBs. That being said, he is about average when it comes to xG+xA. This could be a toss-up. Reinildo is one of the best in duels and decent in possession, while not great in xG+xA, so maybe not. It looks like Bradaric may be the utility man, next season, featuring occasionally as a winger. Looks like Lille may need another winger/attacking midfielder but maybe just for depth. We’ll tackle this in Part 4, too.

Lastly, Lille has 6 CMs to choose from and that’s quite a bit for players who are relatively similar. This could prove to be an opportunity to raise some additional funds from the already large exodus. But, aside from Benjamin André the best central midfielder in Ligue 1 this year, who should Lille let depart?

  • Thiago Maia was excellent in Serie A last year, when healthy, and is unfortunately coming back from a cruciate ligament rupture. That being said, he was excellent in stats aside from going forward. We can also see he punches above his salary too.

  • Cheikh Niasse was about average in the Greek 1st Division. He can also play as a CB, which is a plus. He wasn’t great going forward but was above average in possession and duels while excellent defensively, in relation to CMs. His salary is about accurate.

  • Jean Onana was about in the 79th percentile of CMs in the Belgian 1st Division, this year. He has excellent duel and defensive numbers, although the latter could be because Mouscron were not a great team this year and were last in possession. All this being said, Mouscron were mid table in goals against, finishing 11th out of 18th. His salary is about accurate, too.

  • Rominigue Kouamé was about in the 84th percentile of CMs in Ligue 2, this year. Helping Troyes get promoted. Kouamé is above average in the final 3rd and xG+xA, but what makes him really stand out is his ability in possession. Clearly he was a lynchpin for Troyes, this year. His xSalary is way above his estimated salary - a huge plus.

  • Show was about an average CM in Portugal’s 1st Division, this year. He wasn’t strong going forward but he was above average in everything else like, duels, defense, and possession. His salary is well below what he should’ve been getting, but his xSalary is well below his minute salary, which means he’s performing below average.

Based on the above information, I think I’d let Cheikh Niasse and Show go. How I see it is they don’t offer anything special in particular while Thiago Maia and Kouamé could offer excellent ability in possession while potentially making an impact going forward. Jean Onana is a defense-heavy CM and could be a good back up for André who are both good at duels and defensively.

To wrap things up, this looks to be the final squad before going into Part 4:

Yazici, (Weah, Angel Gomes)

Attacking Midfielders/Wingers:
Bamba, Angel Gomes, Weah, (Bradaric)

Central Midfielders:
André, Thiago Maia, Onana, Kouamé

Celik, Bradaric, Reinildo, Sadzoute, (Tiago Djalo)

Central Defenders:
Fonte, Agouzoul, Tiago Djalo

Leo Jardim, Koffi

The areas we’ll be looking to strengthen are two forwards, a depth attacking midfielder/winger, and one central defender for around €12,300 p/w. This will be a really tough task, but hopefully it is doable. Furthermore, we can see a huge increase in funds over the next few years when you consider the players leaving. Based on using The Transfer Lists UEFA Market Value Calculator here, Lille OSC could have up to €152.5 million in transfer funds over 5 years, from these sales. This would significantly reduce the overall debt Lille OSC has accumulated over the past few years. This could be the beginning of getting things in order and be a fiscally responsible football club.

I’d like to finish by saying that this article just scratches the surface of the effort and analysis that is put in to determine what players are giving the most value to the club. Furthermore, I included some players that were on loan elsewhere last season that I didn’t get a chance to touch upon for the sake of time, but I’m relatively confident they could do okay based solely on the data. Of course, I would like to watch all of them to get a visual understanding of them but there simply isn’t enough time. I wanted to give a general understanding in a quick and easy to understand way while providing potential solutions.

Lastly, feel free to check out my Squad Analysis Dashboard here.

You can poke around, choose who you would keep, get rid of, and so forth while trying to make sure you try to stay below the target of €24 million. Please feel free to reach out and tell me who you would keep! You can also click "keep" to see who I'd keep.

If you’re interested, you can also check out my Ligue 1 Player Radar Dashboard here.

Mess around, choose several players, and see how they compare. Enjoy!

This concludes Part 3 on evaluating Lille OSC’s finances. To read the other parts, the links will be below as they get posted to the website.

Part 1   Part 2   Part 4

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