The data train is gaining steam, and players will be the next to board it
How players like DeBruyne and Depay get DeSuccess
It was one of the big football news stories this year. Kevin DeBruyne signed a new contract with Manchester City that secured him 83 million pounds. But the true revelation wasn't just the hefty payday but also the Belgian's use of analytics to show that City was a good home for his skills. He made sure not only that his value was proven but that it would be a team that allowed him to show his abilities as a player.
Where DeBruyne wanted to prove that the team he was in was right for him, Memphis Depay needed the opposite. Depay left Manchester United in January 2017 and wanted to know where to go next. He used data analytics to find the team that would let him shine, where his work would be rewarded, proving that data analytics isn’t just something for clubs to use, but players as well.
There is a problem in both of these stories that will be readily apparent to any player asking about this for themselves. Depay and DeBruyne are top players. The only reason they could use data analytics to prove themselves is that they already were making enough to afford it. This is a legitimate concern, but the field of data analytics is opening up, and it is no longer exclusively for the wealthiest clubs. With the democratization of data on the league and team levels, even more opportunities will open up for players.
Advanced analytics are now available to anyone, not just the rich clubs and players
So what will data analytics do for a player
Those two anecdotes suggest it would only be used in negotiations, but that is a limited view of the opportunities available. In the very near future, data will give players more control over every aspect of their careers. A player will be able to sharpen his own training with pointers from accurate analytics. On the day of a match, before they’ve had the opportunity to forget what happened, they can focus on the information and get value out of it immediately.
Beyond that, they can work with their fans. With video clips of their best moments available quickly, players will be able to use social media to show the world their capabilities and catch the viral moments as they happen. A player marketing himself as the fastest man in the west will have the numbers to prove it. Players will be able to take control of their own viral marketing.
And this doesn’t end with fans. With personalized clips delivered directly to their mobile phone, young and amateur players could share their moments with friends and family that weren’t able to travel with them on away games. Even agents and scouts might opt-in and sign young talent after his videos become viral and his performance KPIs completion is backed by numbers.
How will this happen?
This starts from the top. Clubs, academies and even leagues need to get their hands on data analytics, and they need to get that to their players. Democratization of data on all levels will not be done by individual players getting firms to help them. Data will become a part of the post-game ritual for the players, who will do so with the help of their clubs and leagues that regardless have an immense interest in data. The role of players in this would be to convince their clubs and leagues to invest in data analytics.