Saka and Martinelli still best value for forwards

At the start of the season, when Gooners were arguing whether paying Eddie Nketiah £5.2m a season was a smart idea, I punched up a quick post about which players should prove value for money. I took the amortized transfer cost plus annual salary and simply divided it by the number of expected goals that player would score or assist in a season. This created a projected “per goal cost” for most of the strikers in the League.

That post led to the discovery that Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were undervalued. In fact, any forward who came from an academy and played for that original team, or a player who was signed for cheap (Martinelli), and produced over 15 goals would be huge value for money and probably worth signing to a big contract.

I promised at the time that I would revisit the topic at the end of the season and see how well the players did compared to their projected “per goal cost” and as promised here’s the list from top to bottom, by best value:

NameEstimated cost per goalActual cost per goalValue

Some observations:

Saka and Martinelli were once again top of the list. Saka had 25 goal involvements and even in an injury hit season, Martinelli had 20 goal involvements. Even with his new contract, which is estimated at £15m a year, if Saka continues to provide 25 goal involvements (which I expect he will) he will be one of the cheaper options at about £600k per goal involvement.

Jesus’ injury really killed his value (thanks, mid-season World Cup!). I feel like he will be better with a full season under his belt.

Auba was hilariously bad, the worst value in the group I studied. But Jimenez and Maupay were pretty much just as bad. And Everton had two of the least valuable players on contract (DCL and Maupay). No wonder they struggled to stay in the Premier League.

As for the topic of the original post, Nketiah scored a few important goals for Arsenal but he also had a bit of an up and down season. He won the game against Man United and that will be forever in our hearts and he also played an important role in the Europa League (3 goal involvements). But he also had 9.5 xG+xA and only scored or assisted 5 goals in the League. Since I was only using League goals, his value is a bit lower than expected. If we incorporate all goals, he was much better at £400k per goal. And of course, it’s expensive but if we look at other forwards, it will always be expensive to have a backup forward.

I probably won’t do this again next year. lol.



  1. Thanks Tim – always great to read your analysis, along with your other posts!

    1. Aren’t we glad Arsenal didn’t go for Scamacca, DCL, Isak? Interestingly, many of the bottom ones on your list are targetman types.

      Really fun table. Can almost imagine Daniel Levy wringing in grief over looking at it, while being forced to replace Son and Kane this year.

  2. Good work here.

    I wonder if Wenger had a similar chart (cost per goal or something else) in terms of how he valued players, as he rarely spent the “market worth” on a player.

    Transfermarkt ranks Saka #6, while the next highest Arsenal player is our Viking at #23, then Jesus at #30 and THEN Martinelli way down at #35.

    I like your table better.

  3. Trend setting….raising to the occasion….WengerEst… proud of you and Arsenal.

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