How could Milan even consider selling Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain? Two of the League’s most notably class footballers should carry a value beyond monetisation. Indeed, an analysis of the duo’s worth on the pitch gives perspective as to why both the Italians and French are valuing the duo so highly in this transfer deal. There are few players in any of Europe’s Leagues that can boast statistics personifying influence as much as this duo.
Beginning with Ibrahimovic, he has scored 42 goals and assisted a further 17 in his two years with Milan, equating to a direct involvement in 59 League goals for the club in that time – 42.5 per cent of the Rossoneri’s total scored. Only Edinson Cavani and Antonio Di Natale have netted more goals in the Italian top-flight during this period and if assists are included, only Di Natale with 64 has had direct involvement in more goals in Italy than Ibra since August 2010.
The Swede’s goals and assists have also directly accounted for a difference of 35 points for Milan in the past, which is 22 per cent of the club’s total earned in the past two campaigns, with his impression in 2010-11 mathematically the difference between the top spot that the team finished in and sixth place.
During those same two seasons, Thiago Silva’s basic statistics also make for impressive, significant reading, with last season’s numbers particularly highlighting the 27-year-old’s value to the Rossoneri. Whilst as many as 15 players averaged per game more tackles than Silva in 2011-12, no-one for his team managed even half as many interceptions as the Brazilian, or blocks, or clearances. Where defensive colleagues across the Division such as Giorgio Chiellini, Giuseppe Biava, Lucio, Hugo Campagnaro and Mehdi Benatia had players in possession run by them on occasions well into double figures, Silva’s 27 appearances saw it happen to him a total of just six times. Statistically, few have shown themselves capable of reading the game as well as the No 33.
That his passing accuracy last term was bettered by no other player in the League, and only by Javier Zanetti in 2010-11, is testament to the other aspect to his game that the Rossoneri have benefited from in recent years, his temperament in possession. Added, only Andrea Pirlo averaged more accurate long balls than Silva last season, whilst nobody was better than Silva the year before. Not only are these attributes remarkable considering his position on the pitch, so too is the fact that Milan has been able to use him with regularity. Over the last two years, no player at the club has averaged as many passes per game as the defender – no-one has been involved in play at San Siro as much as Silva has.
With the Brazilian on the pitch, Milan have recorded 33 clean sheets during the past two years. In only five games when Silva did not play did the team not concede in the League in this time and it is perhaps equally pertinent to note that the now departed Alessandro Nesta was playing on each of those occasions.
In short, Ibrahimovic and Silva have shown themselves worthy of a ridiculous price-tag and of asking for extortionate rates from PSG – they have consistently provided the most valuable aspects of play to their team. Yet, for those statistics that make consideration of their sale most damning, there is another set of numbers that make the French side’s offer so irresistible to Messrs Berlusconi and Galliani.
Specifically these are financial. Ibrahimovic’s remaining two years of his contract with the club amounts to a total spend of €48m, including the 50 per cent tax-rate, whilst Silva’s recently-signed five-year deal will cost the club €70m including tax. A €62m offer for the pair, combined with foregoing this huge double commitment turns a potential €118m spend into a €180m boost.
That the club’s total annual expenses continues to rise each year and is threatening to break the €300m barrier for 2012 is significant with Financial Fair Play on the horizon. So too is the fact that it can be coupled with a drop in revenue, according the latest Football Money League, and consistent annual losses posted that in the past two seasons alone – before player sales, most of which are conducted with Genoa amid raised eyebrows – totals almost €200m.
Whilst Milan will statistically, definitely rue selling Ibrahimovic and Silva, should the deal go through and not turn out to be Milan’s third yes-no deal with PSG, it is a transfer that means the club won’t be ruing boardroom statistics that otherwise continue to look threatening. The Rossoneri’s choice looks to be between red faces on the pitch, or red writing in the account book.