Who should Louis drop?

Louis van Gaal names his 23-man Netherlands squad for the World Cup later today but which players should he drop? The excellent @goalimpact (goalimpact.com) has provided me with his objective ratings on the members of the Dutch squad and this seems as good a place as any to start to answer the question.


The Goal Impact method looks at players as part of a greater whole and analyses them on what happens during their matches – how many goals their team scores or concedes with them on the pitch for example corrected for opposition strength. The rating is then adjusted so that an average player in the database has a score of 100. Here are the scores for the 30 players currently in Van Gaal’s squad with commentary on who should go:

 

Goalkeepers:

Jasper Cillessen (Goal Impact 111.90)

Jeroen Zoet (103.18)

Michel Vorm (103.16)

Tim Krul (97.24)

 

The four Dutch goalkeepers are, as expected, nothing special but as Tim Krul is the only one to post a below average score, he should be the one to be dropped. This also ties in with my opinion on the quartet with analysis I did last year suggesting that he has a major weak point. What is perhaps more surprising is that Van Gaal left three goalkeepers out of the original squad, Maarten Stekelenburg, Kenneth Vermeer and Erwin Mulder, who all have higher Goal Impact scores than these four. The first two have played very little recently but Mulder can perhaps feel unlucky. In Stekelenburg’s case, it can’t be often that a goalkeeper who played in the previous World Cup final misses out on the squad for the subsequent World Cup. Sadly that just shows how far he has fallen.

Out: Tim Krul

Defenders:

Daley Blind (Goal Impact 133.15)

Daryl Janmaat (120.42)

Stefan de Vrij (116.21)

Ron Vlaar (116.15)

Patrick Van Aanholt (114.59)

Joel Veltman (113.38)

Bruno Martins Indi (110.55)

Terence Kongolo (96.74)

Paul Verhaegh (82.38)

Karim Rekik (80.43)

 

Assuming that Van Gaal takes eight of these players, as Daley Blind is more likely to be used in the defensive midfield position as cover for Nigel de Jong, it seems clear that Paul Verhaegh and Karim Rekik should be the pair to miss out. Verhaegh, in particular, should be nowhere near a top international squad as his quality appears to be way below average on a Goal Impact of 82.38. However, the former Vitesse player is one of only two right backs in the 30, along with Janmaat, which suggests that he will almost certainly go to Brazil. That makes young central defender Terence Kongolo the player who should miss out along with Rekik. However, should the Dutch really play at a World Cup with a right back like Verhaegh whose quality is clearly so far below an average player? The declining John Heitinga (Goal Impact: 138.79) failed to make the original 30-man squad but could have played in this position for example. However, it is the injury to Gregory van der Wiel which has really hit the Dutch hard here in this position. The Paris Saint Germain player has a Goal Impact of 152.88 and is the second best current Dutch player according to this measure, after Arjen Robben. Could the right back position be the achilles heel of the Netherlands team?

Out: Terence Kongolo and Karim Rekik

 

Midfielders:

Wesley Sneijder (142.55)

Rafael van der Vaart (138.66)

Nigel de Jong  (136.02)

Georginio Wijnaldum (126.47)

Leroy Fer (108.41)

Jordy Clasie (115.05)

Jonathan de Guzman (107.99)

Tonny Vilhena (103.07)

 

Rafael van der Vaart already misses out with injury which is a huge blow given his rating on this method. The Goal Impact rating also projects a maximum for players when they reach their peak and Tonny Vilhena’s is 141 suggesting that he will become a better player than many of his older colleagues in the squad. However, he has the lowest rating currently and therefore misses out. Jonathan de Guzman perhaps profits from the absence of Van der Vaart.

Out: Rafael van der Vaart, Tonny Vilhena

Forwards:

Arjen Robben (157.49

Jeremain Lens (140.58)

Klaas Jan Huntelaar (136.86)

Robin van Persie (136.60)

Dirk Kuyt (130.02)

Quincy Promes (111.56)

Jean-Paul Boëtius (103.30)

Memphis Depay (99.34)

 

Huntelaar, Van Persie and Kuyt were all better players than Lens at their peak but their age means that they are on the decline and hence Lens’ is currently ranked above them all. These four, along with Arjen Robben should always have been certainties so the choice is between Promes, Jean-Paul Boëtius and Memphis Depay for the last place in the squad. Both Boëtius and Depay will develop into good, although not elite, players according to this method but it is Quincy Promes who is further at present and therefore it should be him on the plane to Brazil.

Out: Jean-Paul Boëtius, Memphis Depay

 

So, those are the septet to miss out if relatively simple data and a complex method is used to sort out the players from one another. Will Louis agree?

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