FOOTBALL - A top-league top scorer changing clubs is often causing a lot of attention all around the world. This summer, we saw Olivier Giroud moving to Arsenal after being top scorer of the French top flight. Elsewhere, you have probably heard a bit about the top scorers from Italy and England changing clubs as well, unless you have been on a very long holiday.
The transfer-saga of Robin van Persie caught a massive hype in the media. His 30 Premier League goals in the 2011/2012 season was astonishing. Actually, only three other players have managed to score more than 30 Premier League goals (Alan Shearer 3 times, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andy Cole). Manchester United may feel they have made a bargain signing the record-breaking Dutchman. But is it true? Can RvP, Zlatan and Giroud continue their goal scoring streaks at new clubs? Of course only time can tell, but for now: Let’s try to make a statistical prediction!
If we take a closer look at the top five leagues of Europe, we can single out the players who have been sold after their seasons of becoming top scorers. Let us travel back and start the list at the end of the 1997/1998 season, where we saw three top scorers changing clubs. Dion Dublin (18 goals in the Premier League), Oliver Bierhoff (27 goals in the Serie A) and Christian Vieri (24 goals in La Liga) all became top scorers and were transferred afterwards. Interestingly none of them managed to meet the expectations of scoring the same amount of goals the following year.
Top scorers in top 5 leagues – Goals and goals at new club next season.
Moving on, we will see the same pattern. If we define the success criteria as a top scorer scoring the same or a higher number goals after his transfer, no players have actually ever succeeded in the top five divisions within the time frame of this analysis. No exceptions. It is the same with everyone from Amoroso to Gekas to Güiza. The closest is Mamadou Niang who managed to score “only” three league goals less at his new club, Fenerbahce.
The first conclusion therefore will be that none of the three superstars will do so this season.
RvP will score 18 goals
Still in the mood for some fortune-telling? Let us have a look at the actual predictions, where the amount of goals can be calculated. In the “top scoring-seasons”, the players, who were later sold, scored an average of 24 league goals. That is simply amazing.
The following seasons, the same players scored an average of 12 league goals at their new clubs. Not bad at all. 12 league goals in the top five divisions of Europe is a nice achievement - Unless your name is Bierhoff, Élber, Cissé or Ibrahimovic!
The average “lack” of goals therefore ends up at 12 too, and through this, I will take the freedom of predict Robin van Persie to score 18 league goals for Manchester United. Furthermore, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will score 16 for Paris Saint-Germain and Olivier Giroud will be the least successful of those, scoring only 9 for Arsenal.