Scouting departments at soccer clubs aim to discover players having a positive influence on the outcomes of matches. Since passes are the most frequently occurring on-the-ball actions on the pitch, a natural way to achieve this objective is by identifying players who are effective in setting up chances. Unfortunately, traditional statistics such as number of assists fail to reveal players excelling in this area. To overcome this limitation, this paper introduces a novel metric that measures the players’ involvement in setting up chances by valuing the effectiveness of their passes. Our proposed metric identifies Arsenal player Mesut Özil as the most impactful player in terms of passes during the 2017/2018 season and proposes Ajax player Frenkie de Jong as a suitable replacement for Andrés Iniesta at FC Barcelona.

machine learning, pass evaluation, player performance, soccer analytics.,
Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports
Department of Econometrics

Bransen, L., Haren, J. van, & van de Velden, M. (2019). Measuring soccer players’ contributions to chance creation by valuing their passes. Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. doi:10.1515/jqas-2018-0020