A lot has been made about the roughly $45.9 mil (American dollars) spent on Benteke last summer and his inability to live up to the world class fee. Added with Firmino’s hefty $41 mil price tag, Liverpool shelled out Trumpian levels of cash trying to buy goals. But how did it pan out? Benteke was obviously a flop. Firmino found his form after bedding into the side. Origi is the solid third choice. Sturridge, when active, is world class. Those, I believe are just about the consensus. As the season winds down, and Liverpool focuses on trying to get past the strongest side left in the Europa league, let’s see how the season played out statistically for their strikers, and if the assumptions are proven true.
We’ll start with a trick question:
Q) Which Liverpool striker finished the season with the lowest points per minute ratio (points = goals + assists)?
Wait for it, wait for it… Danny Ings! Who else forgot about him? Poor guy has been sidelined for so long, the promise he and his lovable five-head showed in the several games before injury is all but forgotten. However, I think it’s fair to say his work ethic on the pitch will mesh nicely with Klopp’s desire for an aggressive side, as Ings notably hasn’t made an appearance since Brendan Rodgers’ last game against Everton. Really his 196 MPP (minutes per point) rate is likely a reflection more on appearing in only seven matches—the half Sturridge— and his .29 PPA (points per appearance) ties him for third of the five players who appeared at striker for Liverpool this season most regularly (Ings, Origi, Sturridge, Benteke, Firmino), meaning in his few games for the club, he was about par for the course.
Q) So who was the best Liverpool striker?
Let’s answer a question with a question. Which player would you rather have?
A) 15 appearances, .53 PPA, 117.5 MPP
B) 15 appearances, .80 PPA, 103.25 MPP
Obviously "B" right? Well, unfortunately for you it was a trick question again (probably unfortunate for me too, as I lose my audience). Player "A" is Daniel Sturridge’s total output this season, with .53 PPA and 117.5 MPP being clearly the best marks of the five when taking the whole season into consideration, his MPP mark being THIRTY-ONE MINUTES better than any other player’s mark. Crazy.
Player "A" is Roberto Firmino… ‘s last 15 appearances. I wanted to look at his output once he had a chance to get comfortable in the team (he’s the only one with any possible claim to Sturridge’s "Best LFC Striker 2015-16" trophy), so it seemed natural to look at his recent games against Sturridge’s limited sample. Firmino’s total season marks of .46 PPA and 148.59 MPP are both second best marks overall of the five to Sturridge, also by a clear margin. Still, I think it’s encouraging to view Berto’s progress and hopefully continued growth in a difficult league to adapt to. I have to note that he’s probably the least "strikery" of the five included, with greater ability to roam on the wing and drop a little deeper than the more pure scorers (as evidenced by his almost equal 9:8 goals to assists ratio), but Firmino has led the line enough times I felt he merited inclusion.
Here’s the final numbers for the five I looked at (minutes/goals were aggregated from WhoScored.com):
The Golden Boy: Daniel Sturridge, 15 apps, .53 PPA, 117.5 MPP
The Up-and-Comer: Roberto Firmino, 37 apps, .46 PPA, 148.59 MPP
The De-Facto Third Choice: Divock Origi, 27 apps, .26 PPA, 175.57 MPP
I’m-Better-in-FIFA16: Christian Benteke, 35 apps, .29 PPA, 189.3 MPP
I-Barely-Got-to-Play: Danny Ings, 7 apps, .29 PPA, 196.0 MPP
I’ll close with a depressing statistic:
Christian Benteke’s goals cost Liverpool roughly $5,737,500 American dollars apiece (just counting transfer fee, not wages), also known as about half a Coutinho.