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Football is a fast paced continuous entity which can be reduced to a series of discrete events as we see so often in various highlight packages. These discrete events are often focused on goal mouth action, there too from the attacker’s perspective. Perhaps such sweeping statements are unfair to those who appreciate the art of defending but in general it would seem like defenders are deemed less glamorous than the big name strikers.

Goalkeepers and defenders 2015

Less glamorous does not translate to less important. Most successful teams are a balanced, cohesive unit with individual and/or collective quality throughout the line-up. Football is a complex game with a simple objective i.e. finish the game with at least 1 goal more than your opposition. Simple logic will tell us that attaining this objective can be broken down into 2 complementary sub-tasks: maximizing the number of goals scored and minimizing the number of goals conceded.

Having established that the two are equally important, the question that arises is why is there such a discrepancy in the transfer fees? Prioritizing attack over defence, or indeed vice versa, seems like a foolhardy move and yet if the lopsided nature of transfer fees alone are anything to go by, then the defender is a less appreciated species. The reasons behind this perceived injustice are many and the good people who follow Outside of the Boot on Twitter were quick to put forth their views.

 Defending is an art and not easily quantifiable

The most popular response was that transfers of defenders and goalkeepers are more difficult to get right. The entire field of data analytics fails to capture subtle characteristics of footballers, especially defenders. There is no metric for the number of times a defender was in the right position or the ability of a goalkeeper to marshall his defence.

It’s all about the glamour and shirt sales

As mentioned earlier, the task of defenders is less glamorous. After all, if goals are indicative of the entertainment factor of the match, then the entire defence is counter-productive to it. Such kill-joys.

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