It has become something of a tradition: the Global Soccer Network gives MillernTon an assessment of the FC St. Pauli squad. Last season, we already talked to Dustin Böttger three times and got an insight into the GSN data. Now we take another closer look at the squad and ask whether the squad has developed positively and how the new arrivals are rated.
(Cover picture: Peter Böhmer)
The Global Soccer Network is a data analysis and scouting company. With their data and algorithm-based rating system (“GSN Index”), they evaluate footballers worldwide and thus provide important decision-making aids for professional clubs. And the latter gratefully accept such decision-making aids: The Global Soccer Network works with a number of top European clubs such as Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, FC Porto, Chelsea London and OSC Lille.
And who would fit better into this squad of top addresses than… the MillernTon of course! Dustin Böttger, the founder of Global Soccer Network, also answered some questions about the FC St. Pauli squad from a data-based perspective for the new season.
Dustin, we have already talked twice about FC St. Pauli. How has the GSN Index of FCSP changed compared to the previous season?
Quite positively, the GSN index of FC St. Pauli is currently at 57.12, the last time we spoke it was at an even 56.00. So it is definitely going in the right direction.
When we first spoke to Dustin and he gave us an assessment of the squad, FC St. Pauli’s GSN index was 51.09 (take a look here) – a truly remarkable growth.
To give you a better idea of the numbers: The average GSN-Index of the 2nd division was around 55 last season. GSN-Indexes above 60 mean first division level. Anything above 70 is already international class.
Which development surprised you the most or was not foreseeable for you?
We are surprised that Yi-Young Park is not playing at all, only in the second team. His current index is 61.63, which is already above average for a second-league player. We could have imagined him competing with Zander for the right-back position.
Let’s have a look at the newcomers: Jakov Medić is named as one of the best central defenders in the division. Do your data see it that way as well?
Yes and no. Jakov Medić is currently performing absolutely above average. He was particularly strong in the game against Dynamo Dresden, by the way, but also in the derby against HSV, for example. However, we have to keep the following in mind when correctly assessing players: Strong performance does not equal strong player. Even average players can perform above average over a longer period of time. In the end, they still remain average players. Or, conversely, even world-class players can fall into a performance slump and underperform. They still remain world-class. Especially in the media, performance and general quality (the complete skill set of a player) are often equated. Let’s take a look at Jakov Medić. His current performance score is 62.22 in the 2nd division. This puts him in third place behind Tim Knipping from Dynamo Dresden (64.22) and Sebastian Schonlau from HSV (62.89). That is really strong! With his current GSN index of 53.82, which evaluates the all-round quality of a player, he is only 28th in the league-wide comparison. 53.82 means that the player is fully capable of competing in the 2. Bundesliga. In total, however, there are 27 better centre-backs at present, even if they perform less well.
Quite a few people, including me, are certainly rubbing their eyes in surprise at Medic’s rather sobering assessment – in the last conversation I spoke with Dustin in more detail about James Lawrence, who according to the GSN index is also rated rather weaker than many of us would assume. There it is also explained in more detail how this rather average GSN index comes about, which also applies to Medić.
Was Medić also this strong in the pre-season with Wehen Wiesbaden, or has he made another big improvement for the new season?
As far as the GSN index is concerned, little has changed. Medić was already second-league capable last season. In terms of pure performance, one can certainly speak of a surprise. Medić had a performance score of 54.89 in the 3rd division, ranking 8th among the centre-backs in the 3rd division. His average career performance score is 52.67. This alone shows how strongly he is currently performing.
In the preseason, the duo Lawrence/Ziereis was set. Now both are competitors for the position next to Medić. Which centre-back duo fits together best?
The combination of Medić and Ziereis fits very well and is currently the best. Our system makes it possible to calculate how well players fit together based on their abilities. Medić and Ziereis are at 91.29%, a very good value. Anything above 85% is really good here. The combinations of Dzwigala and Ziereis and Dzwigala and Medić are also 88.01% and 87.43%. Lawrence and Ziereis at 86.67%.
At the left-back position, Leart Paqarada has got competition in the form of Lars Ritzka. Many people have said that Ritzka should be “more than just a backup“. Could Ritzka compete at the second division level?
The answer to this is a resounding YES! Ritzka has a current GSN index of 53.19, so he is absolutely second-league capable. Paqarada still has the edge here despite everything, his current index is 58.31. Who plays how often depends on the alignment or tactical guidelines and also the opponents. In terms of type, Paqarada is the offensive wing defender who virtually claims the whole side for himself. Ritzka is more the classic outside defender who thinks defensively first and has fewer advances and also actions in the opponent’s half.
The departure of Rodrigo Zalazar had to be absorbed at the diamond positions. Has this been achieved with Marcel Hartel and Jackson Irvine?
Here, the St. Pauli management must be expressly praised. Hartel and Irvine are a complete hit. In our opinion, Marcel Hartel is one of the most underrated players in the 2nd division. His current GSN index is 65.66. Hartel is actually a Bundesliga player and should have more than just 30 games in the first division. Maybe it will be more with FC St. Pauli. Jackson Irvine is also a hit, his current GSN index is 58.97 – top player for the 2nd division.
Let’s look at the xG +/- statistics of the two to see how valuable they actually are for St. Pauli. The metric itself is quite simple: you look at what a team produces for an xG value when a certain player is on the field. Conversely, you also look at what xG value your own team allows for opposing teams when that particular player is on the field. Then these two values are offset against each other. The greater the plus, the more positive the respective player is for the team Jackson Irvine occupies 2nd place here with a value of +3.91, Marcel Hartel is in 6th place with +3.18. Strong values for the two newcomers.
Jackson Irvine plays a completely different kind of football than, for example, Becker, Hartel and Benatelli – What are his strengths?
It may sound a bit clumsy or even trite, but Irvine’s greatest strength is that he has no real weakness. But let’s go into more detail: He has a very good physique, is very stable in tackles, has a good drive and a strong jump. Apart from his physicality, his tactical behaviour and his anticipation of situations are outstanding. His role in the centre is that of the ball carrier, for which his overview and defensive positional play are also above average. In addition, he plays aggressively in direct duels against the man without being unfair or dirty. What makes him additionally exciting is that he is not just a one-dimensional player who is only out to conquer the ball. He also manages to generate goals himself, be it through his own shots on goal or assists. The values of expected goals with 0.36/90 minutes and expected assists with 0.70 speak for themselves. It should only be a matter of time before Irvine scores his first goal at the Millerntor.
Have these skills been lacking at FC St. Pauli so far?
Yes, St. Pauli has definitely lacked some of these skills. Irvine’s aggressive style of play against the ball, coupled with his offensive drive and strong physique (1.89m/82kg) brings a completely different element to St. Pauli’s game, which they have not had before. The aforementioned Becker (deep-lying playmaker), Hartel (forward playmaker) and Benatelli (deep-lying playmaker) are completely different types of players. Irvine makes it uncomfortable for the opponents.
So far, newcomer Etienne Amenyido has not played at all. He is said to be a similar player to Omar Marmoush. Do you agree with that?
Regardless of the type of player, Amenyido could be a very fun player to watch. Unfortunately currently out of action due to Achilles heel problems. Once he’s back on the field, fans have a lot to look forward to. Strong dribbling, strong technique, courageous style of play. His primary position is striker (forward), but he can also play on both attacking flanks as well as in central attacking midfield. The parallels with Omar Marmoush are legitimate, both are the same type of player (striker – impact striker type), with Amenyido being a bit more variable and stronger than the current Stuttgart player. Amenyido has a current GSN index of 62.39, Marmoush of 58.34.
Can FC St. Pauli’s offensive become even better with Amenyido?
Better and, above all, more variable. From our point of view, Burgstaller and Kyereh are set, but behind them, you really have quality and variability with Makienok and Amenyido. Makienok is the type of target player with a current GSN index of 63.78 and Amenyido as a striker with a current GSN index of 62.39 are in principle almost first league options that St. Pauli have up their sleeve. In addition, there is Max Dittgen, a solid second-league player (current GSN index of 55.95) who was retrained from left-wing to striker and who has done a good job so far.
The transfer of Marcel Beifus took place somewhat under the radar. FC St. Pauli is counting on positive development of the U20 international. What development does the Global Soccer Network predict?
Currently, Marcel Beifus is at the level of a strong third-league player with an index of 48.78. Our models predict that he will develop into an above-average second-league kicker, his possible GSN index is 56.09. He will reach his performance peak at the age of 24/25.
The development of Daniel-Kofi Kyereh is also remarkable (also in your forecast model). He played on the 10 for a long time but has recently been acting as second forward. Which position suits him better?
In general, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh is an incredibly variable player. He can play striker (forward), he can play on the 10. But because of his speed and his understanding of the game, he can also play on both offensive flanks, or he can be a bit more defensive on the left or right side of midfield. Our system sees him most strongly in the role of the striker, just ahead of the role of the so-called “shadow striker” on the 10.
Already in your prediction model at the beginning of last season, Afeez Aremu was singled out as one of the most developable players. What makes him so strong as a player and in which areas do you expect the biggest leaps in development?
Afeez Aremu is one of the most important players for St.Pauli, even though he often hardly stands out. His xG +/- statistic is the best in the current squad, at +5.53. He has a very courageous, aggressive style of play, is very strong defensively in direct duels, wins 55% of duels, 71% of tackles and intercepts 9.03 balls per 90 minutes (second highest value in the team). In addition, he is tactically clever, positions himself well especially defensively and closes the right spaces. He will increase his strength a bit and thus gain physical stability. In addition, he will probably gain some more speed. This, in turn, will further improve his already strong defensive play and make him interesting for other clubs in the long run. Currently, his index is 60.51, his potential index is 70.54 (international class).
Finally: FC St. Pauli is currently top of the 2nd division – does that match the strength of the squad compared to the rest of the division?
If you look at the average index of the squad, which, as mentioned above, is 57.12, they are ranked 7th in the 2nd division. If you take a more differentiated look and only consider the “regulars”, in this case, players with more than 300 minutes of play, St. Pauli is in 4th place with an average index of 61.27.
In which parts of the team is FCSP top of the league? And where not?
We are among the league leaders in attack (GSN Index of 61.99) and in central midfield (61.49). We still see a need in central defence (despite conceding only 8 goals). Medic is currently outstanding, here the question is whether he can maintain the level. The average index here is 56.85, which puts him in 9th place in Division 2. Not worrying, but definitely with room for improvement.
Thank you for your detailed assessment, Dustin!
It is already obvious from the current table alone: FC St. Pauli has improved a lot compared to the previous season. This is also confirmed by the Global Soccer Network, whose index shows that the FCSP squad has risen from 51.09 to 57.12 within a year (in short: from a weak second division club to the top third of the division). The new signings have also made a significant contribution to this enormous increase. A really positive development!
//Tim (translation by Arne)