David N’gog – Definite Potential

This article was originally published on 8th June 2011, and updated on 18th June 2011.

If Twitter transfer tittle-tattle is to believed, then David N’gog is off to the Stadium Of Light in part exchange for Jordan Henderson.

The speculation seems to suggest that he is being valued at £7m in this deal. If so, that would represent a marked increase on the £1.5m shelled out by Rafa Benitez in 2008.

Some people would think that he is over-priced at that figure, and I have heard Liverpool fans saying ‘good riddance’ and the like.

As usual, my opinion will be based on the facts. And as usual, they tend to go against perceived wisdom.

I have compared N’gog on two key statistics against the Premier League’s top proven strikers, as well as Andy Carroll and Luis Suárez, to give a point of reference for Liverpool fans.

Firstly, a look at shots to goals ratio. The figures quoted are the players’ total Premier League career, not just a specific season, so obviously some players here will have played a lot more games than others:

Now clearly N’gog is fairly lowdown this table. But look who he is very close to, or even ahead of: Golden Boot winner Dimitar Berbatov and £24m powerhouse Didier Drogba  to name but two.

The other statistic I have looked at is shots on target ratio:

The boy N’gog (who, remember, only turned 22 two months ago) certainly knows where the goal is. He is level with another Golden Boot winner (Carlos Tevez) and only a fraction behind a World Cup winner in Fernando Torres.

If you break N’gog’s stats down on a season-by-season basis, then his figures for 2008-09 (his first year in English football, don’t forget) make for very interesting reading.

His shots to goal ratio was 0.22, which would put him joint top of the above table, and his shots on target ratio was 0.67, which would put him outright first for those rankings.

This clearly demonstrates the benefit of playing in a well-oiled, title chasing team, but that’s for another debate.

Bear in mind that N’gog has only made 21 starts across his three seasons with the Reds, so if he starts nearly every game for Sunderland, then it’s not unreasonable to assume that he may well figure at the top end of the scoring charts next year.

That would make £7m seem like an absolute steal.

Update: 18th June 2011

I thought it would be interesting to add the scores on the above two tables together to give a combined ranking:

I realise this is a far from flawless or complete way of measuring the effectiveness of a striker, but personally, I think it makes for interesting reading. N’gog is ranked 6th, and his figure of 0.73 is the average of the above totals.

Something of major significance has also occurred to me since I originally posted this article: penalties.

Several of the players on the above list are regular penalty takers (Bent, van Persie, Defoe, and Tevez for example). A free shot at goal from 12 yards seems a pretty easy way to bump up your shots on target or shots to goals ratios to me.

I can’t recall N’gog taking a Premier League penalty, though I have currently not been able to obtain statistics regarding the penalty taking record of individual players, so can’t be 100% sure.

But he is certainly not a regular on penalty duty like some of the above list, and yet he is in touching distance of some of the world’s top frontmen on the above measures at least.

Perhaps my initial version of this article went a little overboard in my praise of N’gog. Yet he is a young player, playing from the bench more-often-than not, and has spent most of his time playing for a struggling Liverpool side.

Time will tell if he ever gets to the very top of the game, chances are he probably won’t. But I believe he deserves more respect than he commonly gets for what he has achieved to date, and I stand by that.

Please take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here.