Football Whispers: Isco, Julian Draxler and Florian Thauvin... the Premier League's next stars?
By Adam Newson, Football Whispers
Last Updated: 06/03/18 8:29am
From Kevin De Bruyne to Paul Pogba, Mohamed Salah to Eden Hazard, Harry Kane to Sergio Aguero, the Premier League is home to several of the world's best attacking players. But who are the next attacking stars to come to the Premier League?
We asked our friends at Football Whispers to identify three attacking players expected to be on the move this summer and the shortlist was impressive: Isco, Julian Draxler and Florian Thauvin.
The reasons behind their anticipated exits from their respective clubs vary, but there is no doubting their talent and Football Whispers used their Player Persona model, which identifies the stars' key in-game characteristics, to assess what each player would bring to the Premier League, as well as their Transfer Value and Transfer Index algorithms to look into the likelihood of a switch to England's top flight.
Isco (Real Madrid and Spain)
While Cristiano Ronaldo was Real Madrid's headline act last season, Isco was the man behind the man. The creative force which helped Los Blancos clinch the La Liga title and become the first team to retain the Champions League.
But this term Isco's form has dipped. He's started 17 La Liga games and reports have surfaced he is considering his future.
The Premier League would be an obvious home for someone of Isco's talents, and he wouldn't be short of suitors. Football Whispers' transfer algorithm, which ranks potential moves out of five based on their reliability, has the Spaniard down as interesting the current top four, with Manchester United leading the race with a score of 3.5.
Isco wouldn't come cheap if Madrid were to sell. Their Player Value model has the Spain star worth £90m, but Real are likely to demand a nine-figure fee if they were to let Isco leave.
Still only 25 years old, the former Malaga star has a score of 85 in Football Whispers' Player Performance model and it factors in the players' last 25 games, which is when Isco has endured disappointing form so that is likely to decrease further.
Despite that, this season in La Liga, of the Real Madrid players who've played more than 1,000 minutes, only impact substitute Lucas Vázquez betters Isco's 1.93 open play key passes per 90, which is why he has an xA90 (expected goals assisted per 90 minutes) of 0.19.
While an intelligent passer he also completes 2.87 dribbles per 90, which demonstrates Isco is a versatile creator.
Football Whispers' Player Persona model shows Isco's in-game characteristics. He is a proficient passer, a player capable of unlocking defences. But he also takes risks with the ball, unafraid to take on multiple defenders or slide passes through minute gaps.
The Manchester United transfer target is comparable to several of the Premier League's best attacking talents. His skill set and characteristics are similar to that of David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Mesut Ozil.
If Madrid choose to overhaul their squad Isco may be a casualty. But there is no doubting his talent and perhaps a Premier League side could unlock all of his vast potential.
Julian Draxler (PSG and Germany)
There was a time not so long ago that Julian Draxler was Germany's great young talent. But his career thus far has yet to live up to the hype.
Draxler, now at PSG, has arguably made the wrong moves during his career. He left Schalke for Wolfsburg in 2015 and was meant to replace De Bruyne. But the move never quite worked out.
After 18 injury-hit months, he left for Paris in January 2016. Playing on either flank, Draxler impressed but then PSG signed Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and he went from starter to substitute.
It's why this summer he is expected to leave PSG. And he could be heading to the Premier League.
According to Football Whispers' Player Persona model, Draxler shares similar characteristics to Tottenham star Christian Eriksen, Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho and De Bruyne.
This term, despite being in and out of the PSG starting XI, the German's expected goal contribution (expected goals plus expected goals assisted) is the fifth highest of any PSG player to have featured in more than 1000 minutes (0.49).
Draxler, who has xA90 of 0.16 and completes 2.50 dribbles per 90 this season, has the talent required to be a world star. And Football Whispers' Player Value algorithm has him listed at £50m, which in today's prices is not a lot for someone of his talent. He'd be worth more if he wasn't used largely as a substitute. His score of 81 in their Player Performance model will also be lower than expected because of that.
PSG need to balance their books this summer and Draxler may be available for what should be a knockdown price.
While a European giant like Manchester City or Real Madrid may not be interested, it is hardly surprising to see he is an Arsenal transfer target, with a switch to North London 3.1 on Football Whispers' transfer algorithm. The 24-year-old is not short of high-profile suitors.
Florian Thauvin (Marseille and France)
Newcastle United fans would be forgiven for doing a double take after reading Florian Thauvin's name. The winger endured a dismal six months on Tyneside, in which he made just five starts, before returning to Marseille.
But two years on and Thauvin is one of Ligue 1's biggest stars and the driving force behind OM's push for a Champions League spot - he's scored an impressive 18 goals and registered 15 assists this term.
The Player Performance model has Thauvin at 86 and his displays have also seen his Transfer Value rise sharply over the course of the campaign, up to £40m. Not bad for a Newcastle flop.
The 25-year-old's characteristics in Football Whispers' Player Persona highlight his productivity in the final third. He isn't afraid to take risks in possession and averages 3.67 successful dribbles per 90, but he also lays on chances for his teammates - playing 1.93 key passes per 90 - and isn't afraid to shoot when in the right areas, with 3.64 shots per 90.
Impressively his expected goals contribution for the Ligue 1 campaign is 0.93 per 90. For a player that has played more than 2,000 minutes in the league this term, it is a staggering output.
The big issue for any Premier League side would be luring Thauvin back to England. He is completely at ease in Marseille and is on the cusp of taking the club back into the Champions League.
You can read more data-led and analytical football content at Football Whispers' website