Wesley Sneijder and Samir Nasri are the two names being bandied around right now when it comes to discussion of which player is going to single handedly make Barcelona rubbish. Both players have seen their spurts of popularity amongst United fans recently, with our initial enthusiasm for Nasri having waned somewhat, to be replaced by a desire to see Sneijder join the club.
The two players can now be considered to be experienced, Sneijder especially so, but what do their goal and assists records suggest about the players? Who should we buy? Does Nasri really only provide one assist a season?
For both graphs, I have divided the number of assists and goals by the number of games played, to create goal and assist “rates”, and a combined contribution rate. If a player nets 10 goals and 5 assists in 20 games, his goal rate is 50%, assist rate 25% and contribution rate 75% (50% + 25%).
The first thing we can do is throw out the rubbish that Samir Nasri only created one goal last season. He made one goal in the Premiership, sure, but in reality had an assist rate of 11%. Not spectacular by any stretch, but solid, especially when it helps push his contribution rate towards 45%.
You’ll also notice an upward trend on the graph. Every season is better than the last for Samir Nasri, with the exception of his insane breakout season (2007/8) which earned him his move to Arsenal before the 08/09 season. That Nasri continued to improve despite this step up in class is to his credit.
Last season also marks only the second time in his carer that he scored more goals than he made, so let’s put the myth that Nasri isn’t a creator out with the trash, shall we?
How about Mr Popular, Wesley Sneijder?
(Note: Assist stats not readily available from the Eredivisie)
Goals. The big difference between Wesley Sneijder and Samir Nasri is the goal threat. Throughout his career, Sneijder dominates Nasri in front of goal. Sneijder has the best two seasons in terms of goal return and, once we’ve got Nasri’s last season, which comes in third, out of the way, Wesley has another six seasons before Nasri’s next entry.
In other words, of the ten best goalscoring seasons we’re looking at here, eight are Sneijder’s.
A bad 08/09 aside (which ended with Inter snapping him up for a bargain £14m), Sneijder has hovered around a 40% contribution rate since breaking out in 05/06. He gets roughly equal proportions of goals and assists, whereas Nasri appears to heavily lean one way or the other, suggesting that Wes may be the more complete player.
The choice we have to make is between the consistency offered by Wesley or the promise shown by Samir. With Nasri’s return improving season by season, can we afford not to take a chance on him reaching Cristiano Ronaldo levels of contribution? Or, given that we can probably only sign one or the other, should we stick with the proven consistency Sneijder offers?
In Fergie we trust. I’m glad I’m not making this decision.