Modric v Nasri v Sneijder – who should Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea buy?

The hunt is on for creative midfielders this summer as managers across England look for the perfect solution to unlocking packed defences. With Paul Scholes retiring, Frank Lampard ageing and Carlos Tevez agitating for a move, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are all looking for a player to shoulder attacking responsibility on the pitch and ‘deliver magic’.

On the other hand, you have Samir Nasri at Arsenal who is in the final year of his contract and has made a quite public stance of ‘wait and see’ this summer, courting United and City while keeping an eye on Arsenal’s transfer policies and of course, whether Fabregas finally leaves Arsenal or not. There were reports at the start of the summer that if Fabregas went Nasri would stay (i.e. Arsenal could afford to break the bank to keep him), but it’s more likely that his future will be independent of Cesc’s.

Then there is Luka Modric at Tottenham, the picture of politeness, who spoke through his agent about wanting to play in the Champions League right after it was clear that Tottenham would NOT qualify for the Champions League next season. He’s also spoken about wanting to play for Chelsea, and despite Ferguson’s interest the option of staying in London and getting a massive pay hike seems to appeal to the Tottenham midfielder. However, Spurs (justifiably) hold all the aces, and may increase his wages but not sell him this summer.

And finally you have Wesley Sneijder at Inter Milan – an ageing Inter Milan that is not only being dragged back into Calciopoli but also desperate to recover their footing after ruling Italy (and at one point Europe and the World) for a few years. Reports from Netherlands strongly suggest that Sneijder has his heart set at a move to United and the only stumbling block remains the transfer fee. Inter want 35m, and if United were to buy Sneijder it would probably be a player + cash deal. Which player? Well, Samuel Eto’o wants to play in the Premier League as well, so maybe there’s a striker going the other way?

It’s still the first week of July, so there’s plenty more to go in the transfer stories for these three players. What I’d like to do is to compare the stats for Modric, Nasri and Sneijder and look at who is, statistically speaking, the most valuable of them all.

Modric v Nasri v Sneijder – 2010/2011 League Stats

Player Luka Modric Samir Nasri Wesley Sneijder
Team Tottenham Hotspur Arsenal Internazionale
Appearances 32 30 25
Starts 32 28 22
Minutes On Pitch 2 800 2 391 1 999
Goal Attempts
Goals 3 10 4
Minutes per goal 933 239 500
Shots 54 81 107
Shots per game 1,7 2,7 4,3
Shooting Accuracy 43% 65% 44%
Chance Conversion 8% 19% 5%
Touches per game 87 74 82
Touches per game in opp box 2,1 4,6 1,8
Goal Assists 2 1 5
Chances created per game 2,1 1,9 2,9
Total Passes 2 001 1 468 1 503
Passes per game 63 49 60
Pass Completion % 87% 88% 85%
Pass Completion in final third % 77% 83% 79%
Duels 360 281 182
Duels per game 11 9 7
Duels won % 54% 39% 46%
Total Crosses 68 157 154
Crosses per game 2,1 5,2 6,2
Cross Completion % 24% 14% 19%
Dribbles 113 135 51
Dribbles per game 3,5 4,5 2,0
Dribble Completion % 61% 45% 55%
Fouls conceded 15 18 15
Fouls conceded per game 0,5 0,6 0,6
Fouls won 46 17 41
Fouls won per game 1,4 0,6 1,6
Offside 3 11 6
Yellow Cards 3 4 1
Red Cards 0 0 0


Stats show that while Luka Modric excels in his role as a deep-laying playmaker and actually wins more one-on-one duels than his more attacking peers, Samir Nasri and Wesley Sneijder dominated their respective leagues last season when it came to delivering balls in the final third.

Luka Modric also managed to make it into the top five in the Premier League rankings, completing 528 passes in the last third of the pitch.

Most successful passes in the final third – 2010/11 Premier League

Player Team Successful Passes Final third
Nasri Arsenal 601
Malouda Chelsea 593
Fabregas Arsenal 548
Silva Manchester City 530
Modric Tottenham Hotspur 528

Most successful passes in the final third – 2010/11 Serie A

Player Team Successful Passes Final third
Sneijder Internazionale 626
Pastore Palermo 591
Robinho Milan 551
Seedorf Milan 492
Hamsik Napoli 486

For a team like City and United, both of whom need more creativity higher up the pitch, Nasri and Sneijder look to be the ideal recruits. On the other hand, United may look at their squad and think that Modric’s arrival would still leave them needing a more attacking midfielder (unless they press Modric higher up the pitch), while Chelsea would look at Modric as the ideal foil for Lampard in the center of the pitch and would be happy to have him sit back and run the show while Torres, Drogba, Malouda and co ran amok up front.

If you were managing United, City or Chelsea, which player would you buy and why?

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