Explaining the stylistic profiles/’How to read’ them

Seeing as they’ve been featured on the latest of Joel off of MessiSeconds’ stat-focussed videos (link here, and the rest of his videos are well worth watching), I thought I should put down a definitive piece on my stylistic profiles for defenders. Examples are below:

The first thing to note is that these aren’t a judge of how good a player is. The numbers are also all percentiles – basically the numbers are ‘normalised’ to 100 instead of being the raw stats to make it easier to compare, otherwise you’d have five bars all using different axes. These are also compared to other people in their position.

This means that ‘Dribbliness’ for centre-backs is a bit volatile. Some players have dribbled, like, twice all season and pass a lot (the other component to make up this category), meaning that there can be a huge disparity between them and a player who’s dribbled about six times but gets the ball far less. So, Laporte being on 90 for dribbliness doesn’t mean that he’s Messi, more that he dribbles a bit *for a centre-back* (which isn’t much).

The definitions are all below the graph and you can see them better by clicking on the image which should blow it up, but the category names are all pretty self-explanatory. That’s the basics, here’s a bit on how to read them quicker.

For centre-backs it’s fairly simple. From left to right it goes:


Right? So:

Otamendi 15-16

Otamendi is hyperactive defensively, high up, doesn’t actually pass it a lot, and when he does it’s not particularly skewed short or long, and dribbles a fair amount but not a lot.

Steve Cook 15-16

Cook is the opposite defensively with little activity and a low line, similar passing but a bit more often long passes than Otamendi, and rarely dribbles.

Full-backs go, left to right:


So it kind of goes from defensive to attacking as you go left to right, with dribbliness at the end. So:

Clyne 15-16

Clyne is mid-level, stylistically, on the more defensive aspects, then quite low on the attacking aspects, and fairly dribbly. So he seems a more defensive-orientated full-back, though still dribbles a bit, presumably passing it off before he gets to an area where he needs to put in a final ball.

Trippier 14-15 2

Trippier… Well. He’s mid-level stylistically on the defensive activity and passing side, but crossed A HELL OF A LOT, which results in the high amount of key passes too. And dribbles. So probably a full-back who did defensive work but also went forward and put the ball in the box a lot.

That’s basically it, really. They don’t tell you how good the players are, but they can illustrate some stylistic differences between them. Some of this will be affected by team tactics and you can only really know what is the team and what is the player when you look at several of them from the same team together.


This is the biggest difference between the Man City centre-backs (I’ve written about this here a while back). There’s a difference in defensive activity, so it seems that’s, but not one on the high line so it seems the latter is probably a team thing. Ditto for pass volume, although the length of passes seems a little different, Mangala a little more likely to go short. Otamendi also dribbles a bit more, but with the margins that that category has for centre-backs, the real-term difference will be minimal.

I hope that’s made them a bit easier to understand as and when you see them crop up. Thanks for reading 🙂


2 thoughts on “Explaining the stylistic profiles/’How to read’ them

  1. nikitarfs

    Do i understand correctly that under “percentile” you mean this concept (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percentile)? Does it mean, for example, if Otamendi has 89 percentile in terms defensive activity that 89% of other centre-back from your sample are “worse” than him in this component?
    Excuse me for my language (i’m from Russia). Thanks in advance.


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