Young Players – The Over Rated
We spend a lot of time looking at who to buy.
What is often overlooked is how important who you do not buy is to your overall results.
I’ll talk about this briefly because it’s worth explaining why this matters so much.
On social media people hate realism for obvious reasons. Nobody wants some know it all wonk coming along and saying anything bad about a player they own. But the more defensive people get, the weaker the player probably is. If the player is good enough – they’ll show it eventually and you don’t need to say anything.
It’s important to step away from this dream world. Hype can get a player to a high price, but only real value will keep them there in the end.
Real value means the ability to return dividends and nothing else.
Anything else is hype, hope and speculation and only mugs place bets based purely on that. We should lean into these softer reasons why a player rises when it suits us but staying within touching distance of real value gives the best long term results.
If you look at the results of my pre-season to December analysis which were independently verified, my realistic assessments of overhyped players ended up being correct 97% of the time.
This means that these popular, hyped up but fundamentally weak players underperformed the market 97% of the time after a few months, with 66% actually making a loss in a market that rose by 57%. That’s staggering.
In the same analysis, players I considered to be good value made an average return of 81% and none of them made a loss in the same period.
In the worst case, putting £1,000 into Rhian Brewster who was the social media hype kid of the day (who ironically I now like!) would have left you with just £673 a few months later.
If going for “aging relic” Toni Kroos instead who I recommended but who was unpopular at the time you would have £3,190 in the same period – £2,517 better off than with fashionable Brewster.
When people ask why some traders can pull in 200-300% profit in a season and why some barely beat the market – this is it. It’s not just picking good players – it’s about not being dragged back by weak players.
Brewster versus Kroos is the most optimistic example but it is not an isolated example. Overall in this period assessing 100+ popular players, going for a player I’d reviewed positively over a popular one I’d reviewed cautiously would on average improve your return by ~80%.
This is opportunity cost and it is why making sure we aren’t pushed by social media or chat groups into holding overpriced poor quality players too long is key.
We can and should trade them but it must be done early when they are at a reasonable price, not when desperate social media accounts are begging people to stay in with wild claims about their value.
We have to start with Haaland as he is probably the most high profile example of a highly priced youngster who has great real world potential but extremely shaky suitability for FI.
He is also probably the luckiest – and one of the rare examples that has kept on pushing despite these now obvious weaknesses.
It was clear he was ill-suited to FI well before his move to Dortmund. The numbers are stark and very clear throughout his whole career to date. He’s a good goalscorer, but a weak performance player.
You can always say that “he’s young and may improve” of course. Maybe, but there is nothing concrete to substantiate that vague hope. He’s very useful to Dortmund as a goalscorer – there is no reason to believe a coach would want to change that formula.
People wildly speculated on a Manchester United move in December and didn’t get it. Social media was awash with how they were idiots as he plunged from £4.74 to £3.95. Then just a short time later, these same idiots were geniuses who apparently predicted the hot streak of immediate goals.
I suspect they did not and just hit a bit of luck.
It would be ludicrous to say you saw that coming because continuing long term at anything like this scoring rate would make him the biggest statistical outlier of all time, dwarfing any legend of the game you can think of. It’s very unlikely and much more likely he’ll revert to something like normal for a good player.
But that isn’t even the problem. The problem is that as we have already seen, he is so bad for performance scoring that even if he did keep scoring 2 or 3 on the regular, he’s still unlikely to win any performance dividends.
His succession of bang average scores despite scoring 2 or 3 goals in a game are not bad luck – they are exactly what you would expect if you read his match data.
To believe he was genuinely worth his £6.81 you have to stretch reality very far indeed. You’d have to be hoping for a change to the FI scoring system which already heavily favours goalscorers as it is. Or a fundamental change to his style of play.
The one positive I do see on the horizon is that a change to media that brought in German news sources could benefit him. That’s likely, so assuming that went ahead, and taking into account his clear IPD value and occasional performance win on a very good day, a sensible valuation would be somewhere around £3-4.
That’s a long way from £6.81 and I’d expect those two prices to move closer together the more football we see. He may do better short term if the Bundesliga is the only league in play and the competition is limited.
But in normal times, it would take a near miracle for him to return enough to justify this price tag over a season.
Abraham is fairly similar to Halaand in that he was a hyped young goalscorer who got an early big break at a good club.
But with limited performance suitability, it was clear what was going to happen.
For a time, they’ll do well if the goals flood in and it did for Abraham early much as it did for Haaland. But as the persistant poor scores and lack of dividends drags on, especially when they hit a dry spell and stop scoring which is common for youngsters, that price slide will start.
Having been as high as £3.71 he is now down at £2.73. So, we’ll definitely see some “look at how much he’s dropped he is value now!” chatter.
But this is garbage. A price fall does not make a player good value in itself. That only applies if the price fall brings them below what their really worth.
For a hyped young player with very limited performance suitability, that price often has to fall a long long way before it becomes anything like sensible.
It happened for Brewster, I think, because he dropped from £3.72 to just £1.98 today, and he’s closer to some real football. He hasn’t been road tested and outed as a weak player yet, so there is more potential for a gain based on the anticipation there.
But Abraham has had a nearly a whole season to demonstrate what anyone paying attention knew already – he’s bad for performance scoring. And that’s unlikely to change.
He may pick up some pre-season buying but the more football we see from him it’s very likely traders will like him less not more.
I will say however that buying now after a dip is a far better trade than buying him on his way up when he is popular.
You may indeed be able to carry him to a reasonable pre-season profit but the key thing is not to be the mug who thinks he’ll actually breakthrough next season because there is no evidence for that.
This is an example of the point in a hype trade where it isn’t completely mad to get involved.
Yes, he’s £2.65 and it’s a lot but it’s also been falling gradually down from £2.82.
Numbers at Norwich aren’t spectacular but I would say for a small club, he is doing pretty well. So well that you might hope he does have FI potential at a good club and you’d have a rational basis to do so.
Is £2.65 a bit over optimistic? Probably. And that’s why he’s in this list and not the Good Young Players article. But he’s got some potential and that makes him a better bet in my view than anyone else on this page, with the possible exception of Fabio Silva.
It’s also a transfer gamble because he really needs that to hold this price in the months ahead. Relegation makes it much more likely he does move, so there is that. If they do stay up, it’s very unlikely he’ll be getting any good scores from Norwich.
This is a good illustration of an important point to bear in mind. I’m not anti-hype trading. I am anti buying players who have already flown and are constantly being pushed on social media. Statistically speaking, the former is winning trading and the latter is losing trading.
I will pick up players with questionable performance suitability regularly. But only when the price is right, and only when I see an event ahead that can likely make that player rise, like a decent transfer.
Generally, I’ll want at least some performance suitability as my backup plan, so if the hoped for event doesn’t happen, I’m still left with something.
Cantwell has shown just enough of that, which is why I’d be far happier with someone like him than I would with Bellingham or similar for nearly twice the price.
If you think you might be tempted to follow into a player like this if you see them flying, it’s probably best just to get that buying wrapped up now whilst the price is settled.
If you are playing Fifa or Football Manager or happen to be a world class real life scout Camavinga could do really well for you.
If you are an FI trader, you’ll want to be aware that he’s actually a deep midfielder whose never shown any real goal threat or any real suitability for FI.
Baselines I’d expect to be good, but lots of players have good baselines and make a good contribution in reality but never win on FI. It’s extremely likely Camavinga will be like that unless a coach transforms his style dramatically.
He’s £3.19 already and the prospects of real long term value anywhere near that are low.
We don’t have to be too pure though. He has short term hype value as he may hit an EPL transfer if you want to trade that way.
The important thing is to be aware of which of these trades you want to cash in on the hype and which to run with.
For example, I held firm on Bruno Fernandes when going to Manchester United through every twist and turn because I knew he had real FI quality – I could take the risk of a transfer falling through because long term he’d be fine and I had a chance of getting a major upside which in that case I did.
With a Camavinga? I’d be out the second he spiked in price because of a big story. If that link falls down I have very little left to hang onto because he’s likely to be weak for FI purposes.
There is a theme here in that the easiest players to overvalue are the ones who look so good with a purely football brain rather than in the context of FI.
And Martinelli looks great in the real world.
His history of awful performance scores is no accident though. The underlying numbers are atrocious even adjusted for playing 90 minutes every week. He’d have to do a lot to put up a competitive score, at minimum 2 goals including the matchwinner most likely. It’s too high a bar for consistent success.
People get fed up of that in the end, no matter how hyped, and this is why we see a dip from £3.78 to £3.14 over Feb to March.
However, he is bouncing back with anticipation of the new season in recent weeks, and picking him up on that down swing was not a bad idea. It’s quite likely he will keep rising as we anticipate football returning.
Why? Because in the absence of football and evidence people dream. New traders will generally think he’s a good idea too, so if you expect new traders joining, a target like this might be a smart play.
What is not a smart play though is carrying him into the seasons themselves (I guess I have to say seasons now rather than season) hoping he’s suddenly going to start winning.
There’s no polite way to say this. It wouldn’t be harsh to call the hype for him a straight up scam.
More likely, it’s the usual combination of lack of knowledge and/or deliberate deception that drives trades like this.
There is short term transfer appeal, sure. But you are taking on a ton of risk at £4.66 hoping for that Manchester United move that may fall over. Dortmund will lead to inevitable “next Sancho” cries too.
If he does move to Manchester United, what then? There is no evidence of the goal output to make an impact. He doesn’t even have the evidence for good baselines like Camavinga does.
Even Sancho has his problems with high performance scores, and that is more likely to get worse at Manchester United rather than better. But he’s not too far away. You can squint at the stats a bit and say “if he improved you can see him eventually doing quite well”. Not so with a Bellingham. There is nothing there to grasp at.
It amounts to a big dice roll on Bellingham getting a good move where he can rise further based on hype. Long periods of rotation and then inevitable poor performance scores when he does get minutes though means once the hype is over, it’s overwhelmingly likely his price fades with it.
Again, you can always say “but I’m betting on future returns and young players can improve” as the last defence of the pumper or over optimist. But in general, you can read a youngsters stats and know whether they’ve got what it takes or not.
Paying this money in the hope that a coach completely redevelops their game is just foolish because you can buy a cheaper player who is already FI suitable who can rise more without taking on this kind of risk.
£2.10 isn’t an awful price these days, he’s certainly a lot better than when I first said he was overvalued in August at £2.29.
That’s a mild fall but in the context of the growth in the market, £2.29 was a much bigger price at the start of the season. It’s a big drop really.
Just in March he was down at £1.70 and he has risen sharply again. You’ll note a common thing here – when football is off it opens up space for pumpers to hype up players again.
There just isn’t the consistent games to prove wild speculation wrong.
He may get some minutes next season for Real, though it is a very tough environment to break through in and he’s got so much competition.
I would expect him to rise based on this anticipation alone, though.
Beyond that, we are likely to see rotation and disappointment. If he looked a genuinely strong FI player you’d forgive it more, but as a midfielder, his baseline numbers are weak and his goal threat unspectacular.
His Tokyo numbers were better but this is a soft league. He’d have to be doing as well for Real as he did in the J-League to be a contender and that feels like a stretch.
Far from the worst offender when it comes to being overpriced, though.
This may be a surprise entry for many given the amount of hype for him at the moment.
But yes, he looks a pretty awful performance player in a similar vein to a Haaland or an Abraham. That’s to say he might have goals but that’s probably about it.
As long as you are aware of this, it may actually be quite a good trade at this point.
£2.24 is probably still under the going rate for a “generational talent” to use the social media description for any player under the age of 19 who can successfully walk onto a football pitch without falling over. And that price has been stable for a while.
It’s a transfer gamble for sure but if it doesn’t happen in this window it is quite likely the rumours will restart in the next. Safe in Portugal, he might score goals and get attention, and he won’t be eligible for performance scoring so his rubbish numbers won’t be revealed for some time.
At the point of the transfer you can review where he is going and decide whether you want to cash out or not.
Because he doesn’t actually look that great, I’d expect to be cashing out but if it’s a really big move to the EPL or somewhere like Barcelona you’d probably be able to ride the hype a bit longer.
A Part Two of this will be coming soon!