Scientific study confirms: Messi twice as impactful as Ronaldo
- A research group in Belgium has created a model which allows calculating a player's value for his team based on all his actions.
- They take into account everything, not just goals and assists.
- Turns out, Messi is twice as impactful as Cristiano Ronaldo.
- Leo is unique: he completes many actions and almost all of these have a high value.
A research group in Belgian university KU Leuven has created a new set of metrics to determine the impact football players have on their team's results which doesn't only focus on easily measurable goals and assists.
"The value of a soccer player is often determined by goals and assists," explains professor Jesse Davis, one of the method's creators. "A goal is a rare event, however, because an average of 1,600 actions are estimated to occur in a match. Our model views every action - shots, passes, dribbles, tackles - and calculates their individuall value."
Here is KU Leuven's model explained in a short video:
All in all, the model is based on the data from 13/14 to 17/18 European leagues seasons. And, according to the research team's calculations, Leo Messi has twice as much value for his team than Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi's VAEP index stands at 1.21 while Ronaldo's is only 0.61. This means that with Leo on the pitch Barca scores astonishing 1.21 goals more than without him, while Ronaldo only added 0.61 goals to Real Madrid's average score.
"In the first seasons, Messi and Ronaldo's scores are very close to each other," says PhD student Tom Decroos, who collaborated on the research. "From the 2015-2016 season, Messi has gained the upper hand over his eternal rival.
"We see a distinctive trend with most football players: either they make a lot of actions which have little value - that's the case with Paul Pogba, for example.
"Or you have players who are less likely to touch the ball, but who have a big impact. That is typical of strikers like Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi is exceptional in this area: the Argentinian has a very high number of actions and they also have a high value."
Is this an objective prove that Messi is the best of the best?