Update: I don’t get too much right on here, so it’s probably worth pointing out when I do! In this piece from July 2013, I calculated that Henrikh Mkhitaryan would score around nine goals per season in England. Using the same system would’ve suggested that he would score eight (well, 7.86) in Germany, and he scored nine in his first season with Dortmund. Coincidence? Maybe, it is a small figure after all. But this mightn’t be the worst system to use when seeing what a high scoring player from a minor European league might do in one of the big leagues.
Although the numbers aren’t too impressive, I have had several comments advising me that they don’t matter as he scored twenty-five goals from midfield this season, which renders everything else irrelevant.
But my issue with that idea is that I don’t know how strong the Ukrainian league is, so I have devised a system to try to establish how good Mkhitaryan’s goal tally is in the context of the Premier League.
Rather than simply using UEFA Coefficients (which are calculated by how a nation’s teams perform in Europe, rather than on the overall strength of the league itself) I have used the team ratings on Euro Club Index.
It is an independent site which ranks all 719 top flight teams in Europe using statistical models and results from the last few years (read more about that here, if you’re interested), so theirs seems a reasonable system to use for a simplistic analysis.
I have calculated the average ECI ranking of each team in various leagues to see how the Ukranian league matches up, and here are the scores:
So how can we rate Mkhitaryan’s twenty-five goals against Premier League standards? One way would be to divide 224 (the average ranking of a team in the Ukrainian league) by 25 (the number of goals scored) to get a goal coefficient of 8.96
By dividing the Premier League’s average team ranking score of 84 by 8.96 you get 9.38, which suggests that Mkhitaryan’s achievement of twenty-five Ukranian goals is equivalent to about 9 or 10 in England, where the overall standard is much higher.
The interesting thing is, looking at the standard of teams that the Armenian scored against in 2012/13 also suggests a goal tally in the Premier League of a similar amount.
The below table shows every top flight team in England and Ukraine in ECI ranking order, with a note of who Mkhitaryan scored against:
If we use Queens Park Rangers as the minimum standard of a Premier League team, then Mkhitaryan scored eleven goals against teams who are rated English top flight standard.
So it seems whichever way you use the ECI data (albeit in admittedly simplistic ways), Mkhitaryan’s twenty-five league goals would be worth around ten in the Premier League. Certainly not a bad return from a midfielder, but is it worth £25m?
I probably seem like I’m constantly trying to put Mkhitaryan down on here, but I am simply fascinated by trying to figure out exactly how good he is by using the stats. If over half of the Suárez money is going on one player, then I want to know what he’ll likely achieve for Liverpool.
Based on the various facts and figures, I’m not yet convinced Mkhitaryan will prove value for money, but I’ll be more than happy if he proves me wrong.
Related posts you might like:
Mkhitaryan vs Eriksen: Champions League Showdown – which of the two Liverpool targets has been the best in Europe over the last three years?
Why Do Liverpool Need Mkhitaryan? – I know nothing about the player so checked his stats. They don’t make for pretty reading…