Who Would Be The Best Replacement For Messi?
Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona of his decision to depart the club and many fans may wonder which player would be able to fill his void.

The Argentine is considered as the best player in the world but we are going to attempt to find which footballer could possibly replace him in the Blaugrana's starting line-up.

To do so, we are going to use a scouting tool called ScoutIT, developed by data analyst Jesus Lagos and utilise various parameters to be as accurate as possible.

We will look for the metrics that best define Messi based on data from the 2019/20 season, we will put a limit concerning the age of the player who could replace him and explore Europe's top five leagues choosing players who feature in the positions the Argentine covers on the pitch.

We have picked 16 metrics that best represent Messi's game: successful wide passes completed, successful passes into space, penalties scored, freekicks on target, successful dribbles, shots on goal, precision in passing in the final third, successful vertical passes, accuracy of smart passes along with an average of 90 minutes of successful attacking actions, xG or expected goals, xA or expected assists, touches in the area, goals, assists and offensive duels won.

At Barcelona, the Argentine had the freedom to play in different positions throughout games and for this reason we picked footballers who play as strikers, second strikers, left forwards, right forwards, attacking midfielders, right and left attacking midfielders, and right and left wingers.

This will be important because the tool will be able to tell us through its heat maps, not only which player resembles Messi in terms of metrics, but also in terms of the positions he occupies on the field, which makes our search much more precise.

It is also necessary for reliable results to come out to search between players with a minimum number of minutes.

Thus, we have set the filter at 1,350 minutes, which is about 15 full games and between 18 to 30 years old.

Finally, we have selected the five major leagues (Premier League, LaLiga Santander, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1) and four more because of the quality they produce: Brazil, Argentina, Portugal and the Netherlands.

As a result we managed a list of ten candidates of which we are going to analyse the five whose balance between similarities in metrics and positioning on the field most resemble Messi: Neymar (second most similar in metrics although only 14 percent similarity in areas of the field), Riyad Mahrez (third with 61 percent), Paulo Dybala (fourth with 91 percent), Steven Berghuis (sixth with 64 percent) and Bruno Fernandes (eighth with 77 percent).

Messi vs Dybala
One could say that the Juventus forward is the player who most resembles Messi.

The Juventus 26-year-old has similar metrics and plays in almost the same areas on the pitch as his compatriot.

He was slightly improved in offensive duels won and in both vertical and final third passes but still has room for improvement in terms of goals and assists.

Messi vs Mahrez

Mahrez stands out for his ability to play incisive passes but his goal and assist numbers are not ideal.

He could be a decent replacement for Messi and can be used as makeweight in the event that Barcelona negotiate their captain's departure to Manchester City.

Messi vs Neymar

His metrics are almost identical to those of Messi although the 28-year-old forward moves around different areas on the pitch compared to his former teammate.

Neymar betters the Argentine in terms of scoring but can't beat him in assists.

Messi vs Bruno Fernandes

Although his metrics are not very similar to Messi's, he moves where the Argentine tends to move on the pitch.

His dribbling numbers are identical to the Argentine's, he is usually very precise in his shots and has a high ratio of expected assists per 90 minutes.
He is usually very precise in his shooting and has a high ratio of expected assists every 90 minutes.

Messi vs Berghuis

Feyenoord's 28-year-old winger has very striking metrics and his action zone is 64 percent similar to Messi's.

He is a good finisher, with decent XG, goal ratio and high number of shots on target.

Berghuis betters Messi in terms of freekicks on target, he is a good passer and could be a cheap and interesting option for Barcelona.

Thanks to ScoutlT tool we can get an idea of which player can replace Messi at Barcelona, although scouting departments must always rely on other aspects such as video analysis or psychological analysis.

https://amp.marca.com/en/football/barcelona/2020/08/30/5f47f564ca4741e42e8b461d.html

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