David Luiz: New PSG Signing is the Most Statistically Strange Signing of the Summer
Paris Saint-Germain’s latest signing, recent Chelsea player David Luiz, was acquired for a staggering £50million ($84million+). Fifty million of any currency is a lot for any player, but for a player like Luiz it seems overkill. Most soccer pundits and experts will tell you that Luiz has his flaws. Numerous flaws. But he’s still a quality player, just maybe not for the £50million PSG shelled out for him.
PSG is doing something curious; it seems like they’re trying to reconstruct the Brazilian national team’s backline. The Parisians already had 2014 representatives Thiago Silva and Maxwell and now have Luiz as well. Rumors of Dani Alves heading to Paris only back the theory. The international and club levels of football are very different things, but does PSG want a large contingent of a defense that looked shaky throughout the World Cup?
Regardless, the Parisians bought Luiz, and while the team has never been shy about splurging the cash (see just about everyone else on their roster), they could have been smarter with the money spent on the Brazilian center back.
First off, Luiz wasn’t even a first choice starter at Chelsea. He lost out to John Terry and Gary Cahill for starting berths in central defense and was used sparingly as a defensive midfield soon after. It begs the question, if Luiz wasn’t good enough to start at four different positions (both center back spots and both defensive midfield spots in Jose Mourinho’s favored 4-2-3-1) how is he good enough to earn consistent minutes for the Ligue 1 champs? Despite losing Alex to AC Milan, the French champs still have Thiago Silva and Marquinhos (who was also the subject of a massive transfer fee just last year) on payroll. Signing another starting caliber player wasn’t a priority for PSG, but the team probably needed a solid backup at the very least. A move that would have been much better financially.
PSG is in the midst of trying to sign Angel Di Maria permanently because they don’t want to be hit with more Financial Fair Play sanctions. The lavish signing of Luiz may have contributed to the financial inability to sign the Argentine midfielder. That’s one of the many reasons that PSG’s signing of Luiz was a strange one.
According to whoscored.com, Luiz had the 113th best average rating in the English Premier League. The EPL is the best league in the world, but is its 113th best player worth £50million? The Brazilian played both as a defensive midfielder and in central defense last season. If you want to call him a midfielder, then he finished with a worse average rating than Gareth Barry, Steve Sidwell and Michael Carrick. But the Parisians didn’t buy him to play midfield. They already have enough defensive midfielders, so he has to be compared to other central defenders. Three of those defenders who finished with a higher rating included Dejan Lovren, Steven Caulker and Martin Demichelis.
What’s interesting is that all three have moved to new clubs recently, Lovren completed a £20million move to Liverpool. Steven Caulker signed with QPR for £8.5million and Demichelis moved to Manchester City for a little under £4million last offseason.
While Luiz was mystifyingly expensive, he was also worse statistically than all three center backs. The Brazilian international is known for his keenness to push up from central defense and join in the attack. This lead to 1.6 shots per game, but resulted in zero goals and one singular assist. Demichelis and Lovren both averaged around a shot fewer per game but each contributed to three times as many goals as Luiz did. Caulker averaged nearly shot per game, slightly more than the others, but converted five goals. With the exception of Luiz completing a higher percentage of his passes compared to Caulker, 81% to 74.4%, Luiz was inferior in every statistical category. He won significantly fewer aerials per game and his average rating was also the worst of the group.
With all the money spent on Luiz, you could buy all three of the previously mentioned central defenders, do all of Manchester City’s business this summer and still have money left over. That’s how much PSG spent, or how much PSG wasted rather. Luiz is a talented player, but the Parisians could been more fiscally responsible. It may hinder their chances of upgrading the squad further, all for the 113th best player in the Premier League.
All stats courtesy of http://www.whoscored.com/ unless otherwise noted.
Ben Rosener is a freelance sports writer. Born and raised in the greater Seattle area, he is a recent high school graduate who is the editor and founder of two sports websites, Kingdome of Seattle Sports and Know Hitter, the latter of which is a member of the BBA. His work also appears on Bleacher Report and World Soccer Talk. In addition to those sites, his work has previously graced the digital pages of USA Today and FanSided among others. He also doubles as an avid sports fan with rooting interests tied to the Detroit Tigers, Juventus, the Seattle Seahawks and the gone-but-not-forgotten Seattle SuperSonics. He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.