A unique insight into successful youth development at QPR
Queens Park Rangers may sit 13th in the English Championship table after hitting the heights of the Premier League in the last decade, however, things are looking up for a club building a stable infrastructure.
The London based side were relegated from the Premier League in 2015, and since breaking Financial Fair Play regulations have taken a more careful and staggered approach towards transfers, and a clear focus on youth has seen upcoming talents prosper.
But just what methods are the club using to develop their changing way of recruitment, and who are the young talents in the spotlight?
INTRICATE IDEOLOGY FUELED BY DATA
QPR are one of many clients that use the SciSports Platform for data insights, joining Sheffield United and Leeds United as the English teams among others to use this service.
And one of those who utilise this service is Andrew Belk, the club’s Head of Recruitment – who has previously taken on roles as an analyst and scouting coordinator in eight years with the side.
Belk was one of four industry experts that spoke to SciSports two weeks ago as part of our ‘Football scouting in the digital age’ virtual event.
On QPR’s use of technology to find players, Belk said: “It has made us a lot more efficient and helps us get through (scouting) more players.”
“It gives you a list so you know when the games restart who you are looking out for and you’ve then ruled out a lot of the non applicable players.”
The Hoops have fast become a hotbed for developing young talent from the youth set up to the first team – and in the last six years 18 players have made the step up to make their first team debuts.
In that timeframe young prodigies Eberechi Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel, and Ilias Chair were all brought into the youth ranks, made their first team debuts, and now all are becoming star turns in the first team squad.
PASSING DEFENDERS WITH EASE
England U21 International Eberechi Eze is undoubtedly the star turn in a youthful crop at manager Mark Warburton’s disposal, and with the right guidance the advanced playmaker has the credentials to make it to the top of the game – and already has suitors.
Ian Holloway gave the youngster his debut in 2017, and in his third full season playing in the Championship Eze already has 95 appearances at the second level of English Football.
The 21-year old is a joy to watch, with silky touches in abundance – his dribbling and take on stats further proving this.
He averages 4.8 successful dribbles per 90 minutes with an 85.9% accuracy rate throughout the course of the season – up 33.2% from the 2018/2019 campaign.
These attributes make him a menace in the attacking phase, and have also helped see his forward contributions rise and he is reaping the rewards, with 7 assists in the league this season.
The Expected Goals metric highlights Eze’s efficiency in front of goal, scoring 12 goals with an xG of 10.4.
A SciSkill Rating of 72.0 and a Potential SciSkill of 97.8 further prove that there is still more to come from the Londoner despite an impressive season – and those around him know that his defensive traits and work rate need fine tuning to continue to aid his development as a top player.
A BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD FOR OSAYI-SAMUEL
Similarly, to Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel is a primed winger/forward who prides himself on silky skill and taking on his man.
The Nigerian’s dribbling contribution relating to wingers is in fact only bettered by West Brom’s Kamil Grosicki as shown by SciSports Contribution Ratings.
Figure 1. Bright Osayi-Samuel’s attacking contribution relating to dribbling
The youngster provides QPR with a lethal nature in attack and this is put to good use in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
And the former Blackpool man has become a regular in an attacking three – often taking up an inside forward role.
Osayi-Samuel has cemented his place in the second half of the season having now started 14 consecutive league games – coincidently starting every game since Warburton reverted to the new formation.
CHAIR PROVIDING LEGS ACROSS THE MIDFIELD
Another attacking exploit to focus on is Moroccan Ilias Chair – who has been versatile filling across the midfield throughout the season.
The 22-year old made his debut for the R’s in 2017 but spent last season on loan at League 2 side Stevenage.
Nonetheless, after signing a contract extension in the summer, Chair has become a useful asset both off the bench and starting.
Out of 32 Championship games, he has started 20, producing four goals and five assists in the process.
This contribution puts him only behind fellow youngsters Eze and Osayi-Samel (8) in terms of assists for the team this season, and despite all three possessing similar qualities Mark Warburton has managed to utilise all three on some occasions in the league.
The Moroccan completes this deadly trio of dribblers willing to take on their man- an element where his contribution offensively ranks third out of defensive midfielders in the league.
Chair has played in defensive midfield, attacking midfielder and most recently on the left, with teammate Eze providing flexibility in playing on the wing and centre meaning Chair can slot in.
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