Vincent Janssen: ready for the next step
Last season Vincent Janssen became top scorer of the Eredivisie. While previously playing in the Jupiler League, Janssen became this season’s star in the Dutch Eredivisie and the Dutchman even stole the show at Wembley in a friendly against England. AZ’s twenty-one-year-old centre-forward is a fast-rising prospect. Let’s analyze the coming man.
Twenty-one years old, the Johan Cruijff Award, top scorer of the Eredivisie and scoring at Wembley. Vincent Janssen has everything many scouts look for. AZ reportedly accepted a €17 million bid from PSG, but Janssen rejected. Negotiations with Tottenham Hotspur are ongoing. According to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf AZ and Spurs now even have a deal: €22 million. What qualities does the striker possess and is he ready for the next step in his career?
Remarkably, Vincent Janssen scored just six goals before the winter break. It was in the second half of the Eredivisie season that he became unstoppable, scoring 21 goals in seventeen games. In the first half of the season one would expect more than six goals from Janssen. Nine goals would be a better fit given the quality of his chances (ExpG). While he was underperforming in the first half of the league, after the winter break Janssen was performing above expectations. His Expected Goals equalled approximately seventeen, but Janssen managed to score twenty-one.
In the second half of the league Janssen took almost twice as many shots as in the first half, which is the main reason for his increase in Expected Goals (and actual goals). His ExpG per shot in the beginning of the season is 0.158, while after the winter break Janssen averaged 0.180 ExpG per shot. These numbers indicate that Janssen was given chances of higher quality than before. However, this is not entirely true as Janssen took four penalties – all of them finding the back of the net. When leaving these penalties out of the equation, Janssen’s ExpG after the winter break equals 0.152, which is slightly less than he averaged in the first seventeen games of the season.
Therefore Janssen did not became a better finisher. Actually, in both halves of the season he was given equally good chances. The increase in his shot numbers is what made the difference, and this even resulted in a call-up for the Dutch national team.
Vincent Janssen proved this season he has a lethal left foot. But his left foot is not his only weapon. Fred Grim, who signed Janssen at Almere City, saw this as well: “He is incredibly strong. He can hold on to the ball, but he can twist and turn just as easily. Moreover, he is good shooter which makes him a threat for the opposition from both wide positions and as a striker.”
In comparison to other top shooters in the Eredivisie, Janssen scored quite a lot with both feet. While Milik, Ziyech, Santos (all left), and Kuyt, Haller and Veldwijk (all right) clearly prefer one foot over the other, Janssen seems to be two-footed.
Janssen scored two goals with his head, which is no more than seven percent of his total goal-tally. This low number is mainly due to the fact that Janssen only headed at the goal nineteen times. As a result the question arises whether Janssen is anticipating sufficient on crosses from his teammates. Also AZ’s tactics explain a lot. AZ is a team that crosses relatively little. Their attacks mainly consist of fast and risky breaks.
When we take a brief look at Janssen’s shot locations, we notice that 24 percent of his shots are taken from outside the penalty area. In comparison: PSV’s Luuk de Jong took only seven shots from outside the box (5 percent of his total shots). Janssen did not score once from long range. Maybe Janssen should try less shots from far out and look for better shot locations. However, in this case one must note that shooting less from long range makes him more predictable.
Importance of goals
Scoring a lot is important, but scoring at the right moments is of even greater importance. Janssen found the back of the net in eighteen games this season. Out of these eighteen games he put AZ in front twelve times – a stunning 67 percent of the times he scores. Janssen’s production is impressive (figure 2).
More than just goals
Janssen’s task is predominantly about scoring goals but the Dutchman is more than just a terrific finisher. He also creates a lot of chances for others.
Out of all centre forwards in the Eredivisie, Janssen has given the second most key passes (58). In the long run, a key-pass has more predictive power than an assist as a key-pass is independent of a teammate converting the chance.
Vincent Janssen is a complete centre forward. He works hard, he is two-footed and able to provide his teammates. Moreover, he also has a good physique. His potential exceeds the level of AZ. In my view it would be good if Janssen played at a higher level. West Ham, PSG, and Tottenham are battling for his signature with the latter leading the race.
Note: data via Opta