Lille Part 4: Recruitment


In this 4th and final part of my Lille OSC series, we’ll be talking about recruitment. I encourage you to read the other three parts of the series here, here, and here. From reading the articles you’ll understand how we got to this point, which is: Lille need two strikers, one winger, and one central defender all making €12,300 per week, or less, to stay within their budget. I will also only be looking for players who are 24 or younger to think longer term and be more fiscally responsible.

For the sake of time, length of this article, and simplicity, I’ll be looking to recruit from leagues that cover the aspects I wrote in an article about finding markets for transfers. You can read that here.

Based on above, I’ll be looking at the following leagues: Ligue 1, Ligue 2, Belgian First Division A, Super League (Switzerland), Botola Pro (Morocco’s First Division), and the Süper Lïg of Turkey because of the past success the club has had there and the growing connection between the club and the country.

I’ve included the Botola Pro because in Part 3 of my series, I mention Lille could potentially make more money from “football tourists” which could from the many flights from Morocco to Lille. So, why not?

Now, let’s tackle those three attacking players. I’ve decided to combine them because I noticed some of the players can play as a striker or as a winger / attacking midfielder.

To get a sense of what I look at, first I compare a player’s xSalary to their Minute Salary. You can actually see all of Ligue 1’s players here on my Tableau Public profile. This allows me to see which players punch above average on the field. I did this for all of the leagues listed above to give a first pass filter. I didn't include some names because I don’t think they’d come to Lille next year due to rivalries, are on better teams, or just got promoted.

Based on the xSalary analysis, the following attacking players from their respective leagues jumped out at me, in no particular order. The players in bold made the short list because of their availability, current affordable wages, and don’t have interest from other top clubs which Lille can’t compete with:

Ligue 1

Kolo Mouani (Nantes), Moffi (Lorient), Dia (Reims), Wissa (Lorient), Blas (Nantes), Lauriente (Lorient), Faivre (Brest), Honorat (Brest)

Ligue 2

V. Bayo (Toulouse - Loaned from Celtic), Bassi (Nancy), Lasme (Sochaux)

Belgian First Division A

Nmecha (Anderlecht - Loaned from Manchester City), Sakala (Oostende), Muleka (Standard Liège), Lang (Club Brugge), De Ketelaere (Club Brugge)

Swiss Super League

Cabral (Basel), Ndiaye (Luzern), Mambimbi (Young Boys),Elia (Young Boys), Adamu (St. Gallen - Loaned from RB Salzburg), Tasar (Luzern), Zhegrova (Basel), Da Cunha (Lausanne Sport - Loaned from OGC Nice), Gnonto (Zürich)

Botola Pro (Morocco)

Khabba (Olympic Safi), Slim (FAR Rabat), Rahimi (Raja Casablanca)

Süper Lïg

Barreiro (Alanyaspor), Tetteh (Yeni Malatyaspor), Mostafa Mohamed (Galatasaray), Ndao (Fatih Karagümrük), Boupendza (Hatayspor), Paintsil (Ankaragücü - Loaned from Genk)

This gives us a 18 players to work with to see if they’d be a good fit. Based on the current squad of Lille, the profile of players I’d go for are two goalscorers and one player who can create chances but both score and assist. Let’s take a look at a few stats, convert them to Ligue 1 level, and see where the players rank to give us a short list of six - two in each spot.

When looking at the numbers, the bad news is two players, Bamba and Angel Gomes, which Lille would have for next season, are at the bottom of the pile of xG (dark purple) and xA (light purple). Clearly Lille need to get some potential starters. The good news is Yazici is at the top of the list and Weah is doing well in the middle of the list, too. See below.

We can see there are different levels to the players. All of the players from Yazici to Boupendza have an xC (xG+xA = Expected Contribution) of around 0.5, which is a goal every other game. This is a great level and what’s desired. I’d argue anyone from Laurienté to Slim are at an xC of 0.33 to 0.43, which shows to me they’re playing at their level professionally, but may not necessarily stand out. What’s worrying, as eluded to before, Bamba and Gomez are below that level and may only have a lot of goals and assists because they play a lot of minutes. Anyway, if we reduce the list to the top seven, which is from Bayo to Boupendza, we can choose our top three.

Onto the radars for more visuals. However, let’s break this up into the two groups we originally broke it down to: two players who are “goalscorers” and a “creator”. The “goalscorers” have more darker purple, while the “creators” have more of an even split between dark and light purple. Below are the radars for the goalscorers.

Another thing to note along with the radar is that, although it may look like one player is miles ahead of the others, keep in mind that some leagues are not as tough as others. For example, Wissa doesn’t look spectacular, but this is in relation to Ligue 1, while the others are at a lower, albeit very similar, level to one another.

One last thing I’ll note before making a final decision on my top picks are the ages and overall performance percentiles of each player above, which are:

Wissa: 24, 88%
Boupendza: 24, 96%
Muleka: 21, 74%
Bayo: 24, 86%

Based on everything above, I believe I’d prioritize the players in this order: Wissa, Boupendza, Bayo, Muleka

Here are the ages and overall percentiles of each player above, which are the creators:

Elia: 23, 86%
Tasar: 24, 82%
Mambimbi: 20, 83%

Based on everything above, I’d prioritize the players in this order: Elia, Mambimbi, Tasar

Alright, with the attackers out of the way, let’s focus on that central defender. Again, you know the drill, based on the xSalary to Minute Salary analysis, the following central defenders from their respective leagues jumped out at me, in no particular order. The players in bold made the short list because of their availability, current affordable wages, and doesn’t have interest from other top clubs which Lille can’t compete with:

Ligue 1

Kouyaté (FC Metz)

Ligue 2

Diakité (Toulouse), Niakaté (Guingamp)

Belgian First Division A

Agouzoul (Mouscron - Loaned from Lille!), Theate (KV Oostende)

Swiss Super League

Zesiger (Young Boys), Aly Camara (Young Boys)

Botola Pro (Morocco)


Süper Lïg

Marçao (Galatasaray), Szalai (Fenerbahçe), Aksoy (Alanyaspor)

Let’s go to the radars for more visuals. Again, all of the leagues except Ligue 1, which is a higher level, are about the same level of play. Just something to keep in mind when looking at the radars. Also, before I do show the radars, I’ll slim down the seven players bolded to four, so it’s not as jumbled based on the ages and overall percentiles:

Kouyaté: 24, 95%
Diakité: 20, 82%
Niakaté: 21, 85%
Theate: 20, 97%
Zesiger: 22, 80%
Aly Camara: 23, 75%
Aksoy: 23, 74%

Based on the radars and info above I’d prioritize the players in this order: Kouyaté, Theate, Diakité, Niakaté

So there we have it. We have our short lists for each role and all of them are relatively available, affordable, could play at the Ligue 1 level, and be comfortable in the culture. If Lille OSC were to get any one of the shortlisted players, especially Wissa, Boupendza, Elia, and Kouyaté I think they could do pretty well, considering the circumstances. Oh, I forgot to mention I’d look to make it a priority to go after Gnonto from Zürich because he’s 17 and made this list. We would immediately loan him out though, if he doesn’t fit within the budget. I’d also like to say that the player’s being bought are affordable in wages and transfer values because, based on our sales in Part 3, we’d have anywhere from €100m to work with. The squad would be as follows, below.

I’d like to conclude by saying this article just scratches the surface of the effort and analysis that is put in to determine what players are the best targets for recruitment. As much as I’d like to have watched these players, there simply isn’t enough time. I wanted to give a simple and quick look at the numbers to filter down to a relative short list. I’d recommend watching the players extensively. I’d also recommend getting physical data and X-Y data to get a more thorough understanding of the players. Again, I wanted to give a general understanding in a quick and easy to understand way while providing potential solutions.

This concludes Part 4 on evaluating Lille OSC’s potential recruitment. To read the other parts, the links will be below as they get posted to the website.

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

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