Fulham currently holds a playoff ticket in the EFL Championship. In general, they have a fine season with 54 goals in 40 matches. 23 of these goals are contributed by the Serbian Striker, Aleksandar Mitrović. This 25-year-old former Newcastle United striker is effective. There are rumours that a lot of teams in the Premier League want to sign him when this season ends. Therefore, Fulham needs to act early and find his replacement in advance. We will delve into this topic and it will be divided into three different pieces of analysis.
This is the first part of the recruitment analysis. In this first data analysis, we’ll be utilising data and statistics to find out the transfer pattern of Fulham, which will be of use in the second part of the analysis.
Background of the recruitment
Aleksandar Mitrović is a 25-year-old striker in Fulham. He has scored 23 goals in 36 games, with one assist. He is now the top scorer in the EFL Championship and has some scintillating performance on the pitch. Under Fulham’s tactics, he cannot only score but also drops back to the midfield and help open the play for the pivot. Furthermore, he could also serve as the target man for long balls and crosses. That’s why some teams in the EPL desire to sign him for the next season for his versatility. His current contract expires on 30/06/2024.
Fulham have 117.12 million pounds in the red in transfer for the past three seasons, especially in 2018/19 season with 111.15 million pounds of deficit in transfer. That means they may not have too much money to spend for the new 2020/21 season.
While Mitrović’s market value is 20 million, selling this Serbian striker could also free 3.12 million in wage yearly. As the leaving of Mitrović is getting closer, Fulham must find his replacement at a reasonable price, with the money earned from him.
General strategy of Fulham’s recruitment
Before we find Mitrović’s replacement, we must get to know Fulham’s recruitment strategy. We need to know the transfer pattern of Fulham to narrow down our search of candidates. We’ll be using the arrivals to Fulham from 2017/18 to 2019/20. Now we will look at the first standard when Fulham recruit a new player, the age:
The above scatter graph manifests the age profile and the market value of the arrivals of the past three seasons. The grey shape covers from the low quartile to the high quartile of the age range. We can see that Fulham mostly recruits players from 23-year-old to 27-year-old. Also we can see that the market value of these arrivals won’t exceed 30 million. Jean Michaël Seri possesses the most expensive transfer fee in these three seasons, which is 30 million as well.
After finding out the age pattern, we now take a look at the way Fulham recruit players for these three seasons:The above visualization shows the way Fulham recruit for these three seasons. Generally speaking, Fulham will prefer loaning and buying players than promoting youngsters from the academy. For the past three years, they only promote six youngsters from the academy to the first team. On top of this, Fulham is not active in the free transfer market with only 4 arrivals. For Fulham, the common strategy of recruiting new players is to loan first, buy after. Mitrović is one of these cases with a loan fee of 600 thousand in 2017/18 season. He was bought in 2018/19 season with the transfer fee of 24.7 million. The starting winger Ivan Cavaleiro was brought to the club in this manner as well.
After delving into the way Fulham recruit their players, we will try to figure out from which region and league Fulham recruit the most players:
From the treemap above we can observe that Fulham mainly recruit players in England. In these three years they have recruited 26 players from English League: 16 from Premier League, 8 from Championship and 2 from League One. On top of this, they also recruit from the foreign league, especially from Ligue 1 in France. They have signed 5 players from Ligue 1. Süper Lig in Turkey also exports 3 players to Fulham. La Liga in Spain, Liga Nos in Portugal, Bundesliga in Germany deliver 2 players to Fulham respectively. Hence we now get to know where they recruit most players.
Front players’ recruitment
After figuring out the recruitment strategy Fulham employ, we also want to know whether there is some specific strategy on front players’ recruitment. Therefore in this section, we will try to do the same as the above section to find out the transfer pattern of front players. The first pattern we’ll be looking at is also the age profile:
From the above scatter plot we can observe that Fulham also recruit most of front players from 23 to 27 years old. This is the same as their general recruitment strategy. What’s more, the market value of these players are mostly around two million to eight million. Mitrović is the most expensive one amongst all the front players, with 23 million in market value. Fulham spent 24.7 million to buy him from Newcastle United.
Loaning and buying is still the dominant way of recruiting front players (16). Free transfer and promoting youngsters only occupy a small proportion in recruitment (3). Furthermore, the method of loaning then buying still works here. Bobby Reid, Cavaleiro and Mitrović were recruited in this way. They first had a loan period in Fulham, then got bought by Fulham after the loan. It is a noticeable strategy of recruiting front players for Fulham.
Then we come to the final discussion in this part: where do they sign these front players? The packed bubble visualisation gives us the answer:
It is almost the same recruiting strategy when it comes to signing front players. Premier League and Championship are favoured by Fulham with 10 in total for these three years. Ligue 1 and Turkey Süper Lig deliver two front players respectively for Fulham. The rest are from La Liga, Bundesliga, Liga NOS and Russia Premier Liga.
From the above analysis, we now can figure out the recruitment strategy for Fulham. Players are mainly 23 to 27 years old. They are recruited most from buying and loaning. Fulham will also try to loan first, buy later. On top of this, players are mostly recruited from English leagues: Premier League, Championship and League One. Foreign leagues like La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Liga NOS can also be taken into consideration. Thus in the next piece, we will base on the strategy Fulham employs and try to find a list of player as Mitrović’s replacement.