Statistical Profile: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Name: Gylfi Sigurðsson
Country: Iceland
Age: 22
Height: 1.86 m
Weight: 77 kg
Position: Attacking Midfielder

• Premier League Player of the Month: March 2012
• Football League Championship Player of the Month: March 2010
• Reading Player of the Season: 2009–10
• Hoffenheim Player of the Season: 2010–11

Transfer rumours are curious things. They tend to emerge quickly and vanish even quicker, too lacking in substance to sustain themselves for any decent length of time. In the case of Gylfi Sigurðsson however, a certain degree of substance exists, even if his future remains uncertain. This is a rumour worth persisting with.

All but confirmed as a permanent Swansea player last week, after a successful 6 month loan stint in South Wales last season, the Icelandic attacker appears to have a difficult choice to make. Does he follow his mentor Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool, the man who fanned his considerable talent into flames after a stagnant period in the Bundesliga? Or does he complete his Swansea move and hope they remain true to their positive style and upward course under a new manager?

His latest comments seem to indicate that the combined pull of Liverpool and Rodgers will ultimately prove to be too alluring.

“It’s just unclear at this moment where I will play. I’d like to play on with Swansea since I was really happy there but after Brendan Rodgers left the club for Liverpool, that changed the situation. I expect not to stay at Swansea because of the uncertainty going on there as it is not clear who is boss. I have said that my desire to continue playing in the Premier League and Liverpool is completely considered. Liverpool is a big club that has a glorious history. English Premier League is the platform that I want to be and hopefully is that I continue to play in that division.”

– Gylfi Sigurdsson

Certainly new Liverpool manager Rodgers hopes to get the chance to bring the brightest young star of his Swansea side to Anfield.

“Gylfi came to Swansea because I was there as manager and his scoring record was fantastic, I pushed the club to make an agreement to sign Sigurðsson permanently and they did that in terms of the fee – and agreed the salary.”

“So I have said to Huw [Jenkins, Swansea chairman]: ‘I’m not going to do anything untoward. This is a guy you want, but it is down to Gylfi’. If he comes on the market I have to be interested. He knows that I rate his qualities and abilities. ”

“I said to Huw: ‘If I speak to the kid, I’ll tell him to speak to the new manager, whoever that is’. But if he’s not comfortable with that, he’s in the market place then – and I have to look at him.”

-Brendan Rodgers

Playing Style:
Sigurðsson is an interesting player – a combination of midfielder and forward in the one package. He can certainly finish, as his 7 Premier League goals attest, yet he has so much more to his game than that. Passing, set pieces, long range shooting, poachers’ goals, dribbles – Sigurðsson has a little bit of everything.

Supremely suited to Rodgers’ tactical system as the only vertically-minded midfielder of the central trio, Sigurðsson keeps possession well like the majority of Swansea players do. But he is the one most responsible for penetration. Whereas Britton and Allen focus predominantly on recycling possession and keeping the ball moving, Sigurðsson is the midfielder most likely to execute an attacking move, be it a shot, a run or a well-weighted forward pass.

In terms of playing style, Sigurðsson to me strongly resembles Steven Gerrard, or at least the attacking portion of the skipper’s game. Certainly he’s nowhere near as versatile, dynamic, nor as defensively gifted as our Captain Fantastic. Yet his stature, and the way he glides through defences before confidently unleashing long-distance bombs has more than a touch of ‘the Stevies’ to it.

Gylfi vs Stevie:

Continuing the comparison to Gerrard, it’s clear that Sigurðsson’s attacking quality is similar based on statistics posted last season. Interestingly both players took part in only 18 Premier League games last season – undoubtedly Gerrard’s performances were curbed this season by injury. The Liverpool Captain also had a deeper role with less scope in attack than his Icelandic counterpart, and was furthermore part of a team that statistically had less of the ball. Liverpool’s woes in the penalty box are also a contributing factor – many of the chances created by Gerrard were spurned by our misfiring forward line. Gylfi has slightly better passing stats than Gerrard, which is unsurprising given Swansea’s preeminence with possession play. Conversely, Gerrard converted a better percentage of his scoring opportunities, most likely assisted by his slightly better shot accuracy.

The two statistics at the end of the chart above were designed to measure how effective either player had been – hopefully a balanced portrayal of how busy they’d been on the field, how involved they were in the play. For the MPAC (Minutes per Attacking Contribution) rating, I divided the number of minutes played by the key attacking contributions each player had made (shots, chances created – things that cause goals to be scored) to see how often each player was involved in a potential scoring situation. This number gives us an idea of the threat each player carried throughout the season. Significantly, Sigurðsson was able to shoot or create a scoring chance for another player as often as every 12.4 minutes on average. Gerrard, from his deeper position, still carried a potential threat every 20.3 minutes.

The second value MPQAC is adjusted for quality, calculated only using shots that were actually on target. I made this modification to try and reflect if there was a clear quality difference between the two players – is one of them just a hard worker who gets a lot of shots away? Is there a clear difference in their ability to produce quality shots and chances regularly?

Quality of play is extremely important in a team aiming to establish itself as a true force in European football. For example, Charlie Adam is a very busy player, he racks up statistics at a phenomenal rate. But being involved in play a lot doesn’t reflect the variable quality of his involvement – Charlie would regularly produce both the sublime and the ridiculous in any given passage of play.

The MPQAC calculation sees both Gerrard and Sigurðsson maintain healthy numbers, with Sigurðsson’s actual goal threat at a respectable 20.5 minutes. From central midfield, Gerrard needed 30.4 minutes to create or fashion for himself a quality scoring opportunity.

Even if Sigurðsson signs, Gerrard must regularly play closer to goal in the next campaign. We are underutilizing a marquee attacking weapon, one whose individual talent can decide matches. Such wastage must be minimized if the Rodgers Revival is to be as successful as we all hope. Meanwhile, Sigurðsson could provide more-than-adequate cover for the skipper, and afford the manager the luxury of picking and choosing carefully when to unleash Gerrard, potentially minimizing injuries and keeping him fresh for the entire campaign.

How Gylfi Scores Goals:
To get the data for the following analysis, I watched all of Sigurðsson’s goals for Hoffenheim and Swansea, tallying up which foot was used, where the ball was struck from, and what area of the goal the ball entered.

Immediately we can see a clear pattern with Sigurðsson’s goal placement. 60% of the goals analyzed were placed in the right-hand third of the goal, while 40% of his goals were scored in the bottom corners, the location which is hardest for goalkeepers to protect.

In terms of range, Sigurðsson scores an amazing 40% of his goals from outside of the penalty area. His ability to score directly from free kicks is certainly a factor in inflating this stat – 25% of the goals analyzed were set piece strikes. He has a shooting accuracy of 64% from dead-ball situations, while he maintains an exceptional 55% accuracy when shooting from beyond 18 yards. Quite simply, the kid is a cannon, aim and fire.

While the current Liverpool squad boasts more decent set piece takers than we’ve had in recent years, we still lack a regular goal threat from free kicks, so a dead-ball scorer would be of great benefit to the team.

55% of Gylfi’s goals were scored in the box, demonstrating he has the engine and the intelligence to get himself free in optimal scoring positions. His interplay around the area is high quality, with quite a few of his goals coming from multi-pass moves or even clever 1-2s with overlapping teammates running in support. While he’s not the quickest in terms of pace, his touch is silky, and he thinks at lightning speed, always causing problems for defenders.

Sigurðsson scored 90% of his goals with his trusty right boot, although his instinctive left-footed curler against Blackburn in April shows he’s far more than a one-foot-wonder. He also had a headed goal to his name, while a couple of confidently converted penalties from his time in the Bundesliga demonstrate both his calmness and his courage.

I’m strongly in favour of signing Gylfi Sigurðsson. He is a perfect “halfway” transfer target – good cover for Gerrard, but crucially further along in his development than Shelvey. He already understands the manager’s philosophy, has proven he is good enough in the league, and adds the vital goals from midfield we sorely lacked in our last league campaign.

With a rumoured fee of only £6.8m, and at 22 years of age, there is very little downside to a move like this. Snap him up, Brendan.


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17 thoughts on “Statistical Profile: Gylfi Sigurdsson

  • June 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Yeah! Let’s look at the “statistics” and not bother about whether he is adaptable or anything else. Pity that when I watched at Anfield in the 1050’s there were no “statistics” to tell me who was good or bad. Shockingly lapse on Bill’s part was that!

  • June 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    For yahoo who ever-Don’t be stupid statistics were existent even in BC and when football and technology evolve analysis will be different. Highly doubt Bill Shankly never has the chance of analysing via videos so we should abandon that now as well? Ok then may be we shouldn’t televise matches no tv either

  • June 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

     People ignoring statistics are fools.

    Sigurdsson looks a good young player that would fit Rodgers style
    more so than possibly even Gerrard who last season seemed to lose his
    long range shooting ability.
    Sigurdsson could be his long term replacement because they are similar.

  • June 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm


    1050’s eh? Maybe you meant 1950s? You know the decade when “Bill” was manager for a full two weeks in the second division. You must have watched him at Anfield a lot in the 50s. Sure.

    Or maybe you’ll claim you got two digits wrong in a 4-digit number. No wonder you are incapable of understanding statistics or progress. And here I was thinking dinosaurs were extinct. Silly me.

  • June 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    lol made me think of this

  • June 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    the new gerrard 

  • June 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I’ll try to define adaptability for you:

    Player of the season for Reading his first season in the first team (at 20)
    Player of the season for Hoffenheim his first season in the Bundesliga (at21)
    Arguably Swansea’s best player his first season in the EPL

    Wanna compare this to 20M Downing or 35M Carrol?

  • June 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm
    Permalink Gylfi is the replacment for Gerrard and he will only be better

  • June 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    For me, Sigurdsson is a nice to have, rather than a must have. We have plenty of central midfielders. Gerrard obviously should be playing in a more attacking role, as you mention Grubb, and has another year or two before we need to worry about him. Shelvey & Pacheco are well suited to playing the attacking central midfield role also. And Henderson & Aquilani (+Suso) are more than capable of playing the secondary man in a midfield three also.

    In stark contrast, Lucas is the only specialist holding midfielder in our squad. Assuming that Suarez is used primarily as a wide forward in an attacking three, then we only have one centre forward (Carroll) and then the ageing Bellamy & and the mediocre Downing to fill out the other wide forward spots. Jose Enrique is the only natural left back in the squad. After beyond Agger and Skrtel, we’re looking at the elderly Carragher, or Coates & Kelly (+Wisdom), who have barely featured as cover for the centreback positions.

    As long as spending the money on Sigurdsson didn’t prevent the club from filling the other glaring holes in the squad, then I’d be all for it. As things stand though, I’d have to say it looks like an unnecessary signing.

  • June 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

     People like you are even bigger fools.We bought flops like downing and adam because of stats.Gerrard didn’t lose his long range shooting ability.He is just refraining due to his groin condition.Stop bigging up sigurdsson as gerrard’s replacement.All idiotic people like you are doing is putting sigurdsson under massive pressure and expectation.Henderson should ring a bell this season after being touted as future gerrard.

    Lastly learn to read up on more things before commenting.

  • June 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

     “Gerrard didn’t lose his long range shooting ability.He is just refraining due to his groin condition” Duhh! what an idiot thing to say you complete moron! Now buzz off you annoying, no nothing retard.

  • June 15, 2012 at 9:35 am

    You don’t lose your ability overnight though in your case you seem to lose you ability to think.If you learnt english the proper way you would know that gerrard didn’t LOSE it.He just doesn’t want to do it.He could still shoot if he wanted to but that will put him at greater risk of injury.

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