The marquee system was introduced to allow Aleague franchises to sign players outside of the cap who not only will help on the field but also at the box office. Some teams have gone with star power with the likes of Dwight Yorke and Keisuke Honda, some with unknown players closer to their prime such as Miloš Ninković or Thomas Broich.
We can measure the off-field value through changes in ratings, attendances, memberships, merchandise and even sponsorship that coin with the signing. As for on-field value, it is much more subjective with stats and the eye-test giving biased perceptions based on what individuals rate as being important. For example, if it is goals that people look at then a marquee forward has an advantage over a defender. Players who make highlight plays can also colour our judgement of their overall contribution.
Using the VPM algorithm that measures a combination of attacking, defensive and other general stats weighted by relative frequency, accuracy and difficulty we can get a better understanding of the value a player brings to their team ingame. Attack-minded or forward playing players have an advantage because the actions have higher risk and are often more difficult to execute but volume and success of actions can balance this between positions.
The VPM will not tell us who is the better player or the more skilled player but it will give us an idea of how active a player is and the positive contribution they make. A forward could be auiet all game but score the winning goal and therefore have contributed greatly to the game. VPM looks at the total contribution on and off the ball during the playing time of an individual be it as a sub or a starter.
So which current marquee men offer the most value per minute spent on the pitch? Below is the rankings of the 2019 Aleague marquees.
- Diego Castro (Perth Glory) -VPM +9.3
- Keisuke Honda (Melbourne Victory) – VPM +7.7
- Oriol Riera (Western Sydney Wanderers) – VPM +5.8
- James Troisi (Melbourne Victory) – VPM +5.2
- Ronald Vargas (Newcastle Jets) – VPM +5
- Miloš Ninković (Sydney FC) – VPM +4.9
- Siem de Jong (Sydney FC) – VPM +4.4
- Baba Diawara (Adelaide United) – VPM +4.4
- Éric Bauthéac (Brisbane Roar) – VPM +4.3
- Ritchie de Laet (Melbourne City) – VPM +4.2
*Baba Diawara’s 19 games last season were used with his one appearance this season.
Diego Castro – His attacking play is his strength. He tries the diificult actions which yield higher rewards than the more conservative plays. This more than compensates for missed and unsuccessful attempts.
Keisuke Honda – Overall more involved in the play than Castro but plays a little safer and more conservatively.
Oriol Riera – One of the most active of the marquees on both ends. His pluses outweigh his minuses however his lack of end product has been an issue and why his score isn’t higher.
James Troisi – Another very active marquee and heavily involved in the attack. Turnovers and missed or unsuccessful attempts keep his score down.
Ronald Vargas – Creates a lot for his teammates and is good at taking players on. A little loose with possession.
Miloš Ninković – Does a lot of defensive work for his position but not as involved or busy as the other marquees. What he does is best described as quality over quantity.
Siem de Jong – Has a relatively good success rate with whathe does but like Ninković, doesn’t have the high volume of actions that other marquess have.
Baba Diawara – Good in duels and his shooting is accurate. His positioning and timing of runs is something he needs to be more mindful of.
Éric Bauthéac – Puts in a lot of work which is both his strength and weakness. He wins a lot of his challenges but walks a fine line between fair and foul. A little careless with his passing and best when going forward.
Ritchie de Laet – Wins a lot of his duels. Volume is another problem but it is his taking players on and crossing which he gets many of his points from. Solid defensively and his attacking runs down the wings are his strong points.
All the scores of the marquees range from average to above average when compared to other players. High volume and attacking play as well as accurate or successful attempts will usually get a player a high VPM.
Every player evaluated has proven to be important on the field but it is just a matter of whether that value is worth the marquee wages. Without knowing the exact salaries of the players, the best way to know if you’re getting value for money would be looking at the output of the non-marquees in the respective sides.
Most of the marquees are attacking or creative types with de Laet being the noticeable exception although he has played upfront this season and his value going forward is higher than some others on the list.
Again this isn’t a who is the best player argument but merely who statistically offers the most value Based on their positions and actions on the pitch. For deciding who is the better player, the eye test is still the best system.