Today Barcelona is unveiling Neymar. They bought him for a very large sum, not only because of his skills because he is an idol in Brazil. His image is very valuable as well.
But one question that I was wondering was Is he actually a good soccer player?
So as a Computer Scientist I went ahead and grabbed some stats for the most famous soccer players in Brazil. And also for the rest of the world. I used 2 different metrics from us soccerway. The metrics are goals per minute for Domestic Leagues and National Team.
They are representative of how well they play because each player played a significant amount of minutes on the domestic leagues and for the national team.
According to this list, Hulk unexpectedly is the best, followed by Fred, then Neymar, Pato and Lucas. Hulk might be so ahed because he plays for a Russian team and played for a Portuguese team for quite a while. Both leagues are not known for their competitiveness.
But Fred, Neymar, Pato and Lucas have played quite a while in Brazil. Therefore the rank Fred >> Neymar >> Pato >> Lucas might be very representative of how well they play.
Again what we see is the rank Fred >> Neymar >> Pato >> Lucas. These numbers show that Hulk is actually not better than the other players but played against weaker teams. Hulk is better than Lucas in both of the measures, but Hulk is a forward player as Lucas is midfielder/winger. Even tough Hulk appears to be the 1st in the rank for domestic cups, he is probably not a good choice for the Brazilian National Team. He was elected as one of the biggest disappointments in the Russian Cup by Life Sports.
Fred is 32% better in the national team stats and 4% better in the domestic league stats, showing that he is better than Neymar in average and therefore is the best brazilian striker player.
But given that Neymar is the 2nd best brazilian striker (excluding Hulk) and is such an iconic figure, Barcelona probably was smart on buying him.
There were other questions that I always had and since I had the numbers in my hand I was able to answer them. Here they are:
Does Messi play better in Barcelona compared to Argentina?
Let’s look at the numbers again:
Messi scores a lot of goals compared to any other brazilian player (except Hulk), but when it comes to the National Team he is behind Fred, Neymar and Pato. The team is an important part of how players perform and shouldn’t be undermined. Actually Messi has 42% of the performance in his National Team (Argentina) compared to the performance he has in Barcelona.
If you look at other players, they do not underperform like Messi does when playing for a national team (Except Hulk). Therefore Messi plays much better for Barcelona compared to Argentina.
Who is the best striker?
Now let’s compare all the best strikers. The metrics used are the same. Here they are:
David Villa presents the best numbers for Domestic Leagues. Who would expect that? Messi comes in second place and then Ronaldinho!!! David Villa and Messi perform much better than the rest of the players. Now let’s look at the national teams performance:
We can notice that David Villa was both 1st and 2nd on both metrics. He is definitely the player that has the biggest average compared to other players. David Villa is the best striker playing nowadays.