With Carlo Ancelotti’s move to Real Madrid imminent, the Italian must ignore the notion of Galacticos and address Los Blancos' weakest area—defensive midfield.
Prestigious clubs such as Real are invariably linked to the world’s best talent and Madridistas love nothing more than gleefully watching a Galactico being paraded in their magnificent stadium. But is this functional?
In the recently published Numbers Game, written by Chris Anderson and David Sally, their statistical theories threaten to test even the most staunch footballing beliefs.
In extracts published by The Times, the authors demonstrate that eliminating a team's weak areas has a more significant impact on the team compared to strengthening the best components.
"It is the weak link that matters more. For every percentage point that your best player improves, your goal difference per game increases by 0.27. That means that if you improve your best player from 82 percent to 92 per cent, then over a 38-game season, you will find your goal difference improving by just over ten [and] five more points a season. Upgrading your worst player by 10 percentage points from 38 per cent to 48 per cent is worth 13 goals a season, or nine points in the league table."
Insightful stuff. So then, considering Real scored over 100 goals in La Liga last season, is it not slightly bizarre to hear the likes of Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez linked with summer transfers to the Bernabeu—particularly when the former is mentioned in the same sentence as a world record transfer?
Los Blancos should focus their considerable resources in prioritising the acquisition of an orthodox holding midfielder as that responsibility currently rests with Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric. Whilst both £30m purchases are extremely gifted ballplayers, neither is a true defensive midfielder—someone who will happily roll his sleeves up, do his team's dirty work and be the unsung hero.