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Understanding the Key Performance Metrics Driving Market Value in the Belgian Pro League

In the ever-evolving world of football, understanding the metrics that influence a player's market value is crucial for teams, scouts, and analysts. For this season, we’ve conducted a comprehensive analysis of 150 football players in the Belgium Pro League that has shed light on the performance metrics that correlate with market value. By grouping these metrics, we've uncovered fascinating insights that reveal the evolving demands and expectations for players in different positions. Here's a closer look at the findings:


Centre-Back (CB): The Rising Value of Infiltrations and Progression


Traditionally, CB's are seen as the defensive pillars of the team. However, our analysis reveals a surprising trend: centre-backs who contribute to ball progression and infiltrations are highly valued. This shift underscores the modern game's demand for versatile defenders who can initiate attacks and support forward play, enhancing their overall market value significantly.

Figure 1: Key Performance Metrics correlated with market value for CB's. Ball progressing is the most influential metric on market value, highlighting the modern defender's role in initiating attacks and maintaining possession.



An example of a CB, which excels in progression skills and infiltrations, is Zeno Van Den Bosch of Royal Antwerp, one of the most promising young centre-backs of the Pro League. His market value has increased 500%.

Figure 2: Profile of Zeno Van Den Bosch with ball progressing performance metrics, compared to the CB's league average. Zeno Van Den Bosch significantly outperforms the league average across all metrics, especially in Carries and Dribble, showcasing his ability to advance the ball and maintain possession under pressure.



Full-Backs (FB): The New Offensive Powerhouses


FB's have always been crucial for both defence and attack, but their role has evolved to become more offensively oriented. The data shows that metrics related to passing, ball progressing and box positioning have become even more valuable than defending metrics for FB's. This trend reflects the increasing importance of FB's in creating scoring opportunities via key passes and support during offensive phases.

Figure 3: Key Performance Metrics impacting market value for FB's. It shows that passing, set piece contributions, ball progressing and box positioning are the most critical metrics for FB's, reflecting the increasing value placed on their ability to support offensive play and deliver valuable passes.



Full-back Archie Brown, of KAA Gent, is a top performer across the board with respect to his passing and ball progression skills compared with his peers in the Pro League. His market value has increased 614%.

Figure 4: Profile of Archie Brown with multiple passes metrics, compared to the FB's League Average. Archie Brown demonstrates outstanding performance in successful crosses and passing metrics, particularly passes (On Ball Value Added), indicating his pivotal role in creating and supporting offensive opportunities.


Centre-Forwards (CF): Defensive Contributions Matter


Interestingly, the analysis reveals that defensive actions are highly correlated with the market value of CF's. Performances metrics related to pressuring (pressure and counterpressure) and defending (defensive actions and ball recovery) are notable for CF's. This highlights the modern expectation for strikers to contribute defensively, applying pressure on the opposition and participating in ball recovery, thus adding to their overall value.

Figure 5: Key Performance Metrics impacting market value for CF's. For CF's, pressuring and defending significantly impact their market value, highlighting the modern expectation for strikers to fulfil their defensive duties.



Club Brugge’s striker Igor Thiago made a record transfer to Brentford after a great season. Besides his exceptional goal contribution statistics (29 goals and 6 assists across all competitions) he also performed great with respect to defending and pressing. His market value has increased 525%.

Figure 6: Profile of Igor Thiago with multiple pressure metrics, compared to the centre-forward's League Average. Igor Thiago excels notably in offensive pressures and pressures in the opposing half, suggesting his aggressive pressing style contributes significantly to his market value increase.



Set Piece Contribution: A Game-Changer Across All Positions


Another standout revelations from our analysis is the importance of set-piece contributions. Players who excel in key passing and assisting goals through set-pieces have seen a notable increase in their market value. This highlights the critical role that precision and skill in set-piece situations play in modern football. It’s a testament to how crucial these moments are, often being the difference between winning and losing games.

Figure 7: The correlation between set piece contributions and the market value increase for different positions in the Pro League. The importance of set-piece contributions, particularly for Central Midfielders, as players who excel in key passing and assisting goals through set-pieces have seen a notable increase in their market value.

Conclusion


These findings emphasize the dynamic nature of football and the evolving roles of players. The importance of set-piece contributions, the offensive responsibilities of full backs, and the defensive duties of centre-forwards reflect the modern game's demands. Understanding these metrics can provide valuable insights for teams looking to enhance their squad's value and performance.

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