Luke Griffin builds a Premier League team of the season using TransferLab.
It’s been a very enjoyable Bundesliga season. While the title race wasn’t as competitive as you’d probably like, the race for the European spots was tight and the relegation battle went down to the final day. Werder Bremen’s loss to Borussia Monchengladbach and Koln’s win over doomed Schalke settled the relegation places, while Armenia Bielefeld’s win over VfB Stuttgart kept them up.
The main storylines in the Bundesliga, though, have centred around the managerial merry-go-round. Six of the top eight teams will start next season with a new manager while Bayer Leverkusen also replaced their manager in March. As things stand, only Urs Fischer survives as a top eight manager, continuing his stint with Union Berlin. This promises an exciting 21/22 season with Marco Rose, Julian Nagelsmann and Oliver Glasner all moving to another team within the top eight.
One of the best ways of assessing how well a scouting platform is functioning is to compare its output against popular consensus. Let’s look at how TransferLab assesses the Bundesliga season and see how it matches up to what the fans saw.
Here is TransferLab’s Best XI from the Bundesliga this season for players over 1600 minutes:
The first thing to notice is that eleven of these thirty-three players are aged 24 or under, indicating that the Bundesliga has continued its tradition of developing young talent with Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham standing out.
Robert Lewandowski and Haaland are the obvious picks at striker with the former breaking the goal scoring record held by Gerd Muller for a number of decades.
Interestingly, Ihlas Bebou is the only player from the front three not playing for a team who qualified for Europe. This season, the Togoan striker scored 9 goals and also got 7 assists for Hoffenheim:
Despite not being great aerially, Bebou’s overall game is excellent. He can play on either wing when necessary and works hard out of possession. He’s in the 96th percentile for passes into the box and 94th percentile for dribbles when compared with Bundesliga strikers.
Here’s a great example of smart play from Bebou from Hoffenheim’s trip to Bielefeld this season:
As you can see, Bebou is fully aware of Robert Skov’s position, and rather than forcing a difficult shot for himself, he lays the ball back for the Dane so he has more time to pick his spot.
In the attacking midfield positions, Marco Reus and Dani Olmo have both seen their teams finish in the top three again. Meanwhile, Daichi Kamada was a creative force for Frankfurt with the Japanese international getting 12 assists in his second full Bundesliga season.
Able to play on the wing, the 24 year old playmaker is strongest playing centrally between the lines and feeding the strikers. He’s mobile and smart with an excellent passing game. This is reflected in his numbers: he’s in the 93rd percentile for his progressive short passing and 83rd for his expected assists.
Here’s a great example of the way Kamada plays:
In Frankfurt’s game against Bayer Leverkusen, Kamada picks up the ball in between the lines and is able to thread it through to Erik Durm, coming in from the wing.
With Oliver Glasner coming to Frankfurt next season, expect Kamada to push on even further next season.
Jude Bellingham makes it in our team of the season in his first season in the top level. Still only 17, the English international has had an excellent season for Dortmund:
While his long passing and interceptions need improvement, Bellingham’s dribbling, attacking threat and 1v1 defending has been great and at just 17 the sky’s the limit for the midfielder.
Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig finished with the strongest defensive record and the unsung hero in their defensive unit is Willi Orban:
The Hungarian international doesn’t get the praise of Dayot Upamecano and Ibrihima Konate but he has been a great servant for the club over the last 6 seasons. The physical centre back is dominant in the air (91st percentile), a top ball carrier (98th percentile) and progresses the ball very well (90th percentile).
Two of the top three right backs in our team of the season are both Wolfsburg players.
Wolfsburg had a great season under Glasner, finishing 4th with the second best defensive record. Ridle Baku has split his minutes between right back and playing on the right wing with Kevin Mbabu behind him. Having both play down the right gives Wolfsburg a great defensive base and the flexibility to rotate and have worked very well together down the right.
With 6 goals and 7 assists, Baku has had an immense first season at Wolfsburg since moving from Mainz.
As you can see from his profile, Baku is a very productive attacking full back. He likes to get forward and is elite at getting the ball into the box.
In this video clip, you can see a great example of this:
Baku, playing in a more advanced role here against Frankfurt, picks up the ball in the right half-space before playing through Josip Brekalo.
Mbabu doesn’t have as much of an impact in the final third but is a strong crosser (80th percentile) who is strong defensively, making good interceptions (93rd) and 1v1 defending (88th).
Analytics FC provides software and data services to entities within football looking to realise the gains possible from analytical thinking. We provide cutting-edge software solutions such as TransferLab, which helps improve and simplify recruitment decisions. To find out more about TransferLab and our other data services, or to find out more about us, visit our website.