For Manchester United, the purchase of Marouane Fellaini was their most significant signing made during the summer market. Chelsea also added to their roster, spending over £60m, yet it was the dramatic acquisition of Willian - who had already completed a medical examination prior to a prospective move to Tottenham Hotspur - that created the most media buzz.
That was, until, Arsene Wenger uncharacteristically splashed the cash - £42.4m of it - on a single player, a marquee recruit from Real Madrid; on German trequartista Mesut Ozil.
Consensus opinion rates Ozil, despite detractors who highlight inconsistency in Mesut's play, to have enjoyed the more magnificent season to date out of the three mentioned here. Primarily because of his technical ability, his chance creation and his intuitive link-up play with those around him but also, secondary, due to the obvious lift it has given to the club as a whole, how he has inspired the squad and satisfied the 60,000 Emirates Stadium match-going fans.
Used sparingly while players such as Oscar, Eden Hazard and even Juan Mata received more pitch-time, Willian has, in the past month particularly, demonstrated the talent that convinced Jose Mourinho and the upper brass at Stamford Bridge to 'hijack' Tottenham Hotspur's supposed agreement with Anzhi Makhachkala and with Willian.
Fellaini, for £27.5m, has seemingly underwhelmed as the bruising Belgium midfielder has failed to make as big an impact at Old Trafford as he had at Goodison Park with previous club Everton, under the tutelage of the same manager who is coaching him now - David Moyes.
But, when factoring in the wages each of these players receives on a weekly basis, how do their contributions stand-up? Who has, pound-for-pound, proven more valuable to their respective teams?
Approximately, 20 weeks have passed since Fellaini, Willian and Ozil joined their new clubs so payment received to date would be their weekly wage (Fellaini = £90,000, Willian = £100,000 and Ozil = £150,000) multiplied by 20. Here is the data:
|Player||Minutes||Payment received||Completed passes||£££ per pass||Chances created||£££ per chance||Goals||Assists||£££ per goals/assists|
Both Ozil and Willian play in attacking midfield positions and can therefore be scrutinised using similar fields - predominantly by the goals they score, assists they provide, chances they create and passes they complete, all positive impacts on play.
Fellaini has, of course, in season's past, featured in the hole, supporting a front-man, yet, for the bulk of the minutes he has spent on the pitch, he has played much deeper, in central midfield and mostly with a defensive-minded approach.
It would therefore be unfair to judge his contributions using the same fields as Ozil and Willian.
|Player||Minutes||Payment received||Completed passes||£££ per pass||Tackles||Clearances||£££ per tackle/clearance|
There is an argument to be made that, if Willian or Fellaini had been selected more often, their minutes total would be more in line with Ozil so they would therefore be able to make more significant contributions thereby costing their respective clubs less per completed pass or chance creation/destruction, but even if other players were fielded ahead of them or not, the one thing that is constant is the salary that is wired into their bank accounts. To date, 20 weeks into the deals they, their agents and the clubs all agreed on, this is how they can perhaps be judged.
If Ozil, in particular, is applauded for only costing Arsenal £46,875 for every chance he creates compared to Willian who cost Chelsea £74,074 every chance he creates, then surely Fellaini deserves equal credit for destroying an opponent's chance with his 39 combined tackles and clearances (T&C), which cost United £46,153 per T&C.
Where Ozil obviously excels, is his passing accuracy (88% for the record, with 64 pass per appearance average), costing the Gunners accountants £2,481 every time Mesut finds a team-mate.
Does this compare with other players in the division?
David Silva, on his £200k per week deal, would have cost Manchester City £285,714 per goal/assist, £70,175 per chance or £4,278 per completed pass. Pound-for-pound, Arsenal ratified the better deal with Ozil, than City did with Silva.
Chris Brunt, with his estimated £35,000 per week, would have cost West Bromwich Albion £116,666 per goal/assist, £30,434 per chance created, or £1,866 per completed pass, however, because Ozil and Silva participated in Champions League competition, they therefore had further opportunity to add to their goal, assist, chance and completed pass haul, rendering Brunt even more valuable, pound for pound.
Willian also played in Europe, yet his total minutes on the field in both competitions is comparable to Brunt's in Premier League duty alone; 1,099.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald