We may be sick of hearing people bang on about Europe this week but traders will make an exception for this I’m sure.

Last night was a big first for FI with European qualifiers counting for performance scoring for the first time.

This is fantastic news. It was originally announced alongside the performance scoring changes which rightly stole the headlines. 

But ever since then, I think it has deserved a bit more attention and many traders have largely been sleeping on the importance of it.

With the Euros coming at the end of this season, it was always going to be a huge part of the story of the season. Often, I’d expect traders to really start switching on to it around January onwards with smaller numbers of the more savvy traders coming to it a bit earlier.

But I think the qualifiers counting will drag the focus towards it even sooner, and give traders who put a lot of stock in historic performance scores a few data points to look at.

For a start, it’s simply extra games. Extra games make a player more valuable simply because they have more chances to win.

And this season, I think we are seeing a combination of things that are increasingly going to push traders towards a smaller, elite group of players as the season wears on.

The performance changes are increasingly creating an elite group of performance players who can win again and again. But it’s also changed who those elite performance players are in many cases, you can’t find them by looking at last seasons performance scores alone or even the ones from this season.

You need to review the real match data to find them first.

Certainly, when it comes to these qualifiers, performance scores are going to be all over the place because there are so many mismatches. 

So if you are just judging this on performance scores from the qualifiers you are going to have a bad time. Much as we have seen many of those players who got a fortunate big score on day one of the season fall away already and lose momentum.

With the real match data though, it is possible to see who might replicate those numbers in qualifiers to come and versus higher quality opposition in the tournament itself.

The trends will also increasingly funnel traders towards players with Euro 2020 involvement as the season wears on. 

The players who tick all the boxes and will be challenging for consistent wins all season at club level and carry high hopes for the Euros will achieve higher prices and hold onto them longer into the season. 

The players without that fit will not rise so much and will be quicker to drop as the season end approaches.

Risers

Christian Eriksen

Monstrous from Eriksen and he blew the rest of the field away. 

Will he play Gibraltar and get 2 goals and 2 assists every week? Absolutely not, it’s not always going to be this easy.

But, he doesn’t quite need to either. He won by such a margin you could take a goal and assist away and he’d still be well over 250 which is enough to have a good chance of winning even in the tough midfield category.

He has real quality and the new performance scoring system improves him significantly due to his strong creativity. 

It’s a trade I have quite liked for some time. If he had moved to Real, that’s a good move. If he stayed, it’s not terrible either as he can win at Spurs. 

Pre-season has been disrupted but when on the pitch his numbers are solid and I expect him to be a consistent challenger for club and country if he settles.

As a bonus, the trade probably has a transfer drama on the way too without too too many terrible outcomes with Manchester United always linked, Real Madrid, Barcelona there too. 

I’d be less keen on Atletico/Inter but in the early stages ahead of the window, all you need is good rumours in the mix and he should get some.

Also looking quite good for Denmark to qualify and he is their main man. Should have some optimism for the Euros too unless Denmark get a group of death.

Andrea Belotti

If you pay attention to pre-season numbers it was very possible to see Belotti’s rise coming.

He scored 6 in 4 games in pre-season and scored in both games vs Wolves too. 

His involvement numbers aren’t brilliant but he is not a total one trick pony, he has been creating chances recently even though none of them have been put away. So he has the potential to get goals and assists in the same game and could push a decent score despite low baselines.

With him working his way into the Italy set up too he seemed a steal at 72p when I recommended him in pre-season Scouting in the members area in late June.

He has increased by 80% since then to £1.30 now with bags of IPD goals in him, an occasional big score and a good story to tell as to why you would want him for the season, it’s another example of hard work in pre-season research paying off strongly.

Fallers

Youcef Atal

This drop is a bit savage and is caused by a positional change to midfield after two games on the wing.

This is a really tricky issue and I have sympathy for FI on this. FI can publish a clear (ish) model of how they do it and they have but there are a number of players who move fairly regularly and/or just have muddy water between defence/midfield or even midfield/forward.

I can think of dozens of examples of players you could reasonably put in two categories. 

And it has a real impact on a player’s value too.

Someone like Atal for example has enormous potential as a defender because his goal threat is vastly superior to most defenders.

Move him to midfield though and he becomes bang average very quickly.

This isn’t permanent, of course. It’s possible he plays the next two as a wing back and is reclassified again.

I’m not sure what FI can really do other than perhaps lessen the sensitivity so that it took 3-4 games rather than 2 to change it. Or even better, have it judged on each individual match.

As traders, I think we just have to be aware of this and count it as a risk just like any other. These “out of position” players are very tempting because it can give our player a serious advantage over other players in their category.

But that advantage now comes with the serious risk of reclassification and traders will have to decide whether that risk is worth running.  

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