- Overrated Goalkeepers
In the third and last episode of our Goalkeeper Analysis 2020, the focus is on the goalkeepers who have hardly been able to convince despite great praise. They are thus the contrast to the goalkeepers we have looked at so far. We show you the weaknesses of five goalkeepers who have not performed as expected. In our previous parts “The Top 5” and “Underrated Keepers” we based performances on the main characteristics of a keeper which are the following (amongst others):
- Opponents’ expected goals (xG) conversion: This value indicates how many chances the goalkeeper prevents depending on the expected xG values. It can be deduced from this that for every value below 1, the opponent needs more chances to score a goal than the xG value would suggest. The lower the value of the indicator, the better the goalkeeper. Conversely, a worse keeper has a value above 1. Here, more goals are conceded from chances than could be expected. The average value here is 1.02.
- Shots saved in %: This classic indicator shows the percentage of shots on goal, that are successfully saved by the goalkeeper, thus preventing a goal from being conceded. The average value here is 70 %.
- xG per shot saved: This deeper value indicates how dangerous the shots to be saved by the goalkeeper were. The higher this value, the more dangerous balls the keeper was able to save. The average value here is 0.11. The interpretation of this indicator should always be made in combination with the shots saved in %. The assumption is, that a high percentage value for shots saved goes hand in hand with many easy shots on goal by the opponent. If both indicators are above average, then the goalkeeper’s performance is excellent.
2. Overrated Goalkeepers
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea FC)
After his 80 million euro move in the summer of 2018 (from FC Bilbao, more than 60 million euros above market value), Kepa was never able to silence the critics of the English press and his own fan base with his performances. After the Spanish international had escapades and arguments with coaches (e.g. refused a substitution in the FA Cup under Maurizio Sarri), the consortium of Roman Abramovitsch decided to sign Edouard Mendy, a new number 1, from French side Stade Rennes. Meanwhile, Kepa’s market value dropped to 15 million euros and Chelsea FC tries in vain to sell him.
Kepa played 16 Premier League games in 2020 in which he underscored his decline with the performances shown. The xG conversion value of the opponent is 1.91 – the opponent only needs 1 expected goal to score 1.91 goals. The worst rating of all goalkeepers in the top 5 leagues in Europe!
In addition, Kepa was only able to save 57% of all shots on goal – the xG value of those saved attempts is 0.10 and below average, so the shots were rather simple.
This is also reflected in the values for different shooting distances:
These below-average values were also detected by the analysts and coaching staff. Accordingly, a change in this position was the inevitable consequence in order not to endanger the ambitious goals of the club. It is to be hoped that Kepa can work his way out of this low and can return to the previously decent values during his time in Bilbao with a new club.
Joel Robles (Betis Sevilla)
Joel Robles was transferred for free from Everton to Real Betis Sevilla in the 2018 summer transfer window, where he should have replaced Pau Lopez who had moved to Rome. After a few sporadic games at the beginning of his time in Spain, the now 30-year-old developed into a regular in the Betis goal in the 2019/20 season. However, towards the end of the season he was rotated from the starting line-up for the young talented goalkeeper Dani Martin (22). Martin suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in the summer of 2020 and is still out by today – since then, Joel Robles has shared the goalkeeping position with veteran Claudio Bravo (37).
In 2020, Robles started in 25 La Liga games, with data showing that he was rarely able to convince. His opponent’s xG conversion value of 1.23 is below average. In addition, he only saves 55% of the opponent’s shots on goal, which at 0.10 also have a below-average xG value (comparatively easy shots). As with Kepa, Robles’ values for close- (48%) and mid-range shots (44%) are far from satisfying – this may have something to do with Roble’s eyesight. The goalkeeper failed the Beticos eye test once and has been using contact lenses since then.
Roble’s performance does not correspond to that of an ambitious club like Betis, so a new keeper rotation in the summer should be inevitable. It remains to be seen whether they will strengthen themselves externally or hope for a strong comeback from youngster Martin.
Benjamin Lecomte / Vito Mannone (AS Monaco)
Two “overrated goalkeepers” are under contract with AS Monaco, the French Benjamin Lecomte (29) and the Italian Vito Mannone (32) – both keepers are in their prime in terms of age. Lecomte, the first goalkeeper of AS, who was signed from league rival Montpellier in the summer of 2019 for a club-internal record fee for goalkeepers amounting to 13.50 million euros, was out with a hand injury towards the end of the 2020 calendar year. He was replaced by Mannone, who than made 8 appearances, while Lecomte started 18 times in Ligue 1 in 2020.
Unfortunately, the Paris-born Lecomte could not meet the high expectations in terms of data. With an opponent’s xG conversion value of 1.43, he performs below average, and his 67% saved shots, were less dangerous with an xG value of 0.08. In addition, as with Kepa and Robles, there is a poor performance in close- (53%) and mid-range shots (61%). Lecomte also showed major problems with long range shots, of which he was only able to successfully ward off 88%. The average value is significantly higher at 95%.
To the chagrin of the monegasque fanbase and staff, Vito Mannone continued this poor performance. In his 8 games he was only able to fend off 59% of the shots on his goal – with an xG value of 0.06 these tended to be even easier to parry than with Lecomte. Only the opponent’s xG conversion indicator is lower with Mannone at 1.15 than with the regular keeper. He also had huge problems with close-and mid-range shots, where his values are a poor 33% and 43%, respectively. A big improvement is inevitable!
In addition, both show a value of only 28% in the category of stopped shots (early blocked shots on goal). Here the benchmark is almost twice as high at 51%. These data points should ring all alarm bells in the Principality of Monaco – here you may have to replace both keepers in the summer!
Alexander Schwolow (Hertha BSC Berlin)
Alexander Schwolow (28), winner of the golden glove (award for the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga) in the 2017/18 season, moved from SC Freiburg to Hertha BSC Berlin in the summer of 2020 with a lot of praise for a fair market value of 7 million euros. In 2020 he played a total of 29 Bundesliga games, 16 of them in for Freiburg and the remaining 13 games for Hertha – performed significantly weaker than usual at both clubs in the past calendar year.
With an opponents ‘xG conversion of 1.1 in 2020, Schwolow has a value that is below average in a European comparison, but average in an internal Bundesliga comparison. However, he only saved 68% of the shots on goal, which were comparatively very easy with an xG value of 0.06. His error rate is accordingly higher than with other keepers in the ranking. This is particularly clear with his stopped shots value of 20% and his saves at close- and mid-range shots of 38% and 68% respectively – an extreme underperformance.
Some deficits that resulted in a goalkeeper change at the beginning of Pal Dardai’s coaching engagement at Hertha. However, Dardai emphasized that Schwolow currently has no “goalkeeping luck” and that the future belongs to him in the capital city – as per today this is not a good idea.
To conclude our analysis, we uncovered the weaknesses of the goalkeeping position in Europe’s top leagues. We definitely see a need for action in the coming transfer windows in Monaco, Berlin and Sevilla. There is a big question mark behind Kepa – it is more than unrealistic that the Blues are able to sell their goalkeeper for anything close to the 80 million euros they paid. In two cases (Hertha and Chelsea) of our “overrated goalkeepers” a keeper change has already been made, we are curious to see whether the rest of the clubs will react soon.