Firstly, an apology. This isn’t a new visualisation as such, but rather something that I had been working on for a number of months, and previously published under a different alias. If you’ve seen it before, I’m sorry!

I wanted to create a way of visualizing the transfer policies of football teams in terms of the amount of money they are prepared to spend on players, based on the number of appearances (experience) of the players involved. The graph above plots the transfers that the “Big 6” clubs in the Premier League have made over the past few seasons. At the moment, the data doesn’t include the past two transfer windows, but I will look to add these in over the next few weeks, as soon as I get a chance. The value of the transfer fee, according to http://www.transferleague.co.uk/ is plotted along the x axis and the y axis plots the number of first-class appearances that the player had made at the time of their move. I realize there may be a degree of inaccuracy as far as the value of some transfer fees is concerned, but it’s the best data available, and for this illustration it serves a purpose.

The graph is split into 4 coloured areas: Green in the top left represents low value, high experience (low risk transfers). Yellow in the bottom left represents low value, low experience (fairly low risk), orange in the top right represents high value, high appearances (fairly high risk) and finally the section in red shows players with limited experience who have moved for very high transfer fees (high risk).

The graph is fully zoomable and interactive, so go ahead and give it a click!

When visualised on a graph like this, it is far easier to plot the policies of the different teams: Manchester United are happy to spend £7-£15m on players who have made fewer than 60 appearances, whereas the other sides are less likely to do so. Arsenal are reluctant to spend more than £15m on anyone, and when they spend over £10m it tends to be on players with 100+ appearances. Liverpool are prepared to pay large amounts of money on players with relatively limited experience (Jordan Henderson and Andy Carrol). Man City? Well they just buy a bit of everything, but perhaps it is this balance of experience and youth, that has created the football club that looks to become the dominant force in English football for many years to come.

I have also added a couple of extra ways of looking at the data, which you can click through using the red links. These plot the same group of players in terms of their positions on the field, as well as comparisons between two clubs, and nationalities. Ultimately, it would be amazing to extend this infographic to include a far greater number of transfers across Europe and throughout different leagues. It would be amazing to compare the transfer strategies of Athletic Madrid with Aston Villa, for example. Do Bayern Munich tend to buy Brazilian defenders, but rely on German midfielders? Do Porto buy South Americans, and how much and at what level of experience do they tend to look for? All these questions an more could instantly be plotted on a graph like this!

I also wanted to share this visualisation with the football statisticians, because recently I have noticed a few bloggers plotting large amounts of data on scatter graphs. Unless the graphics are massive, then they become difficult to read, but this technique has the advantage of being a free demo version of some really brilliant software, and more bloggers might want to consider using it. The interactivity allows the viewer to zoom in on the data, and see additional information that would have been impossible otherwise. Obviously it would be possible to plot all sorts of interesting data on a scatter chart like this, and I really hope that others start to produce some similar interactive visualisations in future…

  1. Aaron Clavin

    Brilliant work. It would be brilliant to see more in-depth graphs like this appearing on the Internet. I’d even tempted to create a small one based on the club I support.
    No surprise to see Man City and Liverpool with the most high risk transfers. Liverpool’s transfer policy over the past two years as bordered on insanity.

  2. Adam Burton

    Aaron, by saying “Liverpool’s transfer policy over the past two years as bordered on insanity.” you surely only refer to one player, Andy Carrol. The next two are Torres and Suarez, both well worth the money for Liverpool, then its Johnson, England international, who’s done great, Enrique, no one would argue he’s been quality. So I guess you might say Henderson, he’s young and is progressing well for the future. Looking at the chart, Aquailani was a mistake, but that was over two years ago. 35 Million for Andy Carroll is insane, but Liverpool’s transfer policy… I wouldn’t say so.

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