Jamie Carragher is still on about Gylfi Sigurdsson’s price tag.
You would think he would have better things to talk about, but no, here he is wanting to bag on the Iceman about his production and what Everton paid to get him from Swansea. Here’s what the Kopite had to say as reported by Wales Online:
If you look at his stats he’s a luxury, £45million is massive for Everton, they’ve got to be getting a lot more from him, we’re not talking about a young player, he’s 29. He’s got to be doing it now. What they have got back from him for £45 million is not enough.
There are two things that Carragher is ignoring when it comes to Gylfi, his production, and how much he cost. First, his comments imply that there is a set standard of production that every player of a certain value should be able to meet. But that is not how the market works.
A player’s price is determined by how bad his current club needs him, how bad the new club wants him, and how bad the player wants to move. When Swansea was in the process of selling Gylfi, everyone knew he was probably the difference between survival and relegation (and that proved itself to be the case). Given the TV money available in the Premier League, £45m is cheap for a player who is the difference between getting that prize money or not.
To give a comparison, Liverpool spent about £37m on Mohamed Salah. By Jamie Carragher’s logic, we should probably be expecting Salah level production from Gylfi. But Salah was coming from AS Roma, a team who was in no risk of relegation and who also doesn’t have to pay as much for players as English teams generally do.
Everton paid what the market dictated they would have to pay to get a starting level number 10 coming off a season where he probably deserved to get on the PFA team of the year in a just world.
Now, to Gylfi’s actual production. To appreciate Gylfi Sigurdsson you have to view the game in a nuanced way. He’s a free kick savant who is solid in open play. His production doesn’t come in typical ways, and he’s not an explosive player.
Let’s compare Gylfi’s key pass numbers from last season. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Paul Pogba had the same number of appearances last year, and Pogba had one more key pass than Gylfi. I use those two as an example because the eye test on those players tell you totally different things.
Pogba comes across as an explosive difference maker while Gylfi seems to blend in for long stretches, but creatively they have very similar key pass outcomes. Pogba had ten assists, Gylfi had three. Pogba is passing the ball to Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial. Gylfi had what’s left of Wayne Rooney, half a season of Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun, and a little bit of Yannick Bolasie.
If Gylfi had ten assists last year, we probably don’t hear this jaw from Carragher, yet it takes two players succeeding to generate an assist. We could do something similar with goal totals, after all, there was not a great wealth of creation around him for him to finish.
Further, there is the question of what exactly is absolute world class free kick taking worth on the market? Gylfi’s set piece chance creation pairs well with some of the very best in the world. Take Real Madrid wizard Toni Kroos. He had 1.3 set piece key passes per 90 last campaign while sending those balls in to Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Rafa Varane.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had 0.9 per 90 last year with practically zero good headers of the ball. The year before, when he had exactly one good target in Fernando Llorente, he had 1.5, and early this season as Everton has improved the roster around Gylfi he is up to 1.2 per 90, which is what James Rodriguez is producing for Bayern Munich.
Everton is absolutely getting what they paid for in Gylfi Sigurdsson, but it is a subtle return on investment. The better the team plays around him, the better the simplistic metrics of goals and assists will look, but for someone bought to be a creator, Gylfi is giving exactly what anyone should have reasonably expected when he arrived from Swansea.