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Pro League Transfer Analysis

Football clubs are counting more and more on data to support their scouting & recruitment process, where the role of data analytics has become increasingly prominent. We often hear success stories of clubs that work in a data-driven way, like Brighton & Hove Albion.

But what if we use data to delve into the scouting and recruitment efficiency within the Belgian Pro League, where clubs strive to find the perfect balance between investment and performance?

The Belgian Pro League is an interesting league to analyse because buying and selling players is a big part of the business model in this league. Therefore you would expect that these clubs spend a high amount of resources in deciding which players are a good fit for their club. MyGamePlan evaluated the incoming transfer success of the 2023-2024 season.

There are a lot of ways how you can approach this, but for this first part, we started with the basics.

  • We listed all the incoming transfers of the Belgian clubs for the 2023-2024 season, together with their transfer values and ages.

  • Per transfer, we calculated the percentage of the total minutes this transfer played during the regular season.

  • Per team:

    • we calculated the average percentage of total minutes played for a transfer.

    • we calculated the average age of the transfers.

    • we calculated the price weighted average percentage of total minutes played for a transfer, where the weight is proportional with the transfer value of the player. Thus, if an expensive player did not get a lot of minutes, it will affect the weighted average percentage more than for a less expensive player.

this report is excluding goalkeepers, loan players are not included in the transfer fees, and we only used the games of the regular season (no cup, no European fixtures)

Our main findings are:

  1. KV Mechelen leads the pack with great score of an average 50.1% of total minutes played by a transfer, which is a result of their great work on scouting & recruitment. They made the most use of their new signings, and it means that signings like Slimani, Foulon and Cobbaut were a bulls-eye.

  2. RSCA, Union and Genk follow close behind, where RSCA hits a high percentage with the highest average age in the list. They maybe made some older signings, but they were definitely used in a high percentage of games.

  3. A high price weighted percentage can be found at KAS Eupen and Standard. They had to work with a smaller budget, used free transfers and loan players, but the money they did spend, was getting a high amount of minutes.

  4. A surprise at the bottom of the list is definitely Cercle Brugge, with only an average 23.9% of total minutes played by a transfer. But be aware that they have the youngest average age on incoming transfers, so they might have invested this season in the future with transfers like Minda and also got some loan players from the Monaco U21 team that did not play a lot of minutes.

Before you jump on conclusions, we are aware at MyGamePlan that this report needs a lot of nuances.

We don’t know the strategy of the clubs signing the players, a player might be bought to perform in 2 to 3 seasons. Or the low playing percentage might be the result of uncontrollable factors such as e.g. injuries. We also did not include the actual performance of the player. A new signing might be getting a decent amount of minutes in a season, but when he is underperforming it might still be a bad signing.

It does give you a general overview of the scouting & recruitment of a club and how clubs are approaching transfers. Are they buying players that fit their principles, vision and style of play or do they not succeed to find players that match with their club or coaching staff.


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