At Bavarian Football Works, we are using this midseason break to expose ourselves (phrasing!). When working on Bayern Munich news and opinions on 24x7x365 basis, the entire staff develops some very good — and some very, very bad — takes. Whether these takes are relevant to past, present, or future opinions, we are going to let you in on some of the stupid things we think as part of a series. Without further ado, BFW will let it all hang out (damn it! phrasing again!).
My Probably Bad Take & Statistical Analysis: Kingsley Coman hasn’t been that great and Bayern would be right in selling him
Throughout his entire Bayern Munich career, Kingsley Coman has been a confusing player. It’s often been hard to get a gauge on his progress at the club, especially considering he was competing with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery for his first four seasons at the club. In his time since, he had one of the best seasons of his career, capping off the 2019/2020 campaign with the goal to win Bayern their sixth Champions League crown and second treble in team history.
You’d be insane to want to send him out, right? After all, the 24-year-old Frenchman is yet to achieve the height of his powers. This season, he’s been Bayern’s most consistent winger in a squad containing Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, and Douglas Costa. You’re telling me you want to send him away?
Yes...but also no. These are bad takes. They’re not supposed to make sense. I don’t want to hear people saying I actually want Kingsley gone.
But, that disclaimer being said...
I agree that he’s been the most consistent winger on the pitch for Bayern so far. No, I don’t think Bayern will sell him now, nor do I really want them to. But, if there was any time for the club to sell Coman to get the most value for him, now would be the time to do so.
Now, if you asked me this question a year ago, I wouldn’t think this take was too out of bounds. Some recency bias will lend itself to the quality of this take. But, allow me to lay out an argument in three parts as to why it would be okay if Bayern took this route.
An Injury History Long Enough to Fill a Tolstoy Novel
This isn’t something that is Coman’s fault, but his tragic character arc in Bayern red has been plagued with injuries.
Since joining the team on loan from Juventus in the summer of 2015, Bayern Munich has played 279 matches. Coman appeared in 176 of those, or to put it another way, he has touched the pitch in 63% of the matches his club has played.
That means, for 103 matches Coman was not chosen for the lineup. Now, a manager may have many reasons for not including a player in a match, but for Kingsley Coman, a majority of his absences in a match were forced.
Coman has missed 72 games due to injury. This constitutes 70% of all his missed matches and 26% of Bayern’s total games since Coman joined. If one of your starting wingers is out for over a quarter of your games since buying him, that’s not a good sign.
Now, matches missed isn’t an accurate way to determine the severity of an injury. In the case of an Englische Woche, a player missing three games may only mean he’s out for a week. In this exercise, we’ll define a “severe injury” as one where a player is out for 20 or more days.
Coman has had five of these throughout his whole career.
A majority of these injuries have come to the area of the body that is Coman’s deadliest weapon: his legs. Coman experienced back-to-back ligament tears in the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons. After an injury in February of 2018 left him out for the rest of the season, Coman hoped to get back to form in 2018/2019. Off the back of winning a World Cup with France, hopes were high that he would return to form. However, on Matchday 1 of the Bundesliga season against Hoffenheim, Coman went down to a ligament injury again just before halftime. The injury left him out of the team until Matchday 13 on December 1st, 2018 against Werder Bremen.
After missing three games due to injury in his first season, Coman has missed at least eight matches due to injuries in each subsequent campaign. Every year, it seems almost certain injuries will strike again, and I don’t think Bayern would be blamed if they looked to find another durable winger elsewhere.
Since joining the team in 2015/2016, Kingsley Coman has competed for playing time with five other players. While Leroy Sane is still in his first season at the club, and therefore cannot be accurately analyzed, the remaining four players can.
Let’s start with a baseline: in 176 games played for Bayern Munich, Kingsley Coman has managed to bag 38 goals and 44 assists for 82 points scored. On paper, the end result of 82 points isn’t too shabby.
However, the raw number at the end isn’t the most accurate way to determine whether or not a player is efficient. Because he’s an attacking player, there’s a pretty easy way to determine efficiency: points per game.
So, I took the liberty of hopping on Transfermarkt and comparing Coman to his Bayern Munich peers: Serge Gnabry, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, and Douglas Costa. I found their statistics, calculated their PPG average, put it in a spreadsheet and sorted them from best to worst.
Before we get to that, I know it isn’t fair to compare Coman’s few season’s in Bavaria to the body of work that Robben and Ribery possess. So, to make it more fair, we only considered Robbery’s statistics since the 2015/2016 season — when Coman joined the team.
We begin by looking at everyone’s points per game average from the 2015/2016 season to present day:
As we can see, despite Coman leading the pack in goals and assists, his PPG average makes him Bayern’s second worst winger in the last five & a half seasons.
But we can dive further into this. I took a look at just their Bundesliga stats from 2015/2016 to now, to see where Coman ranked and this is what I found:
After looking at just the Bundesliga stats, I examined the five players’ stats in all other competitions including the UCL, Pokal, Supercups, and other notable competitions:
You may have noticed that Coman has accumulated significantly more games than everyone else. Most of that is due to him playing for all five seasons with Bayern compared to Robbery (4), Gnabry (3), and Costa (3).
So, in an effort to even these two tables out, I took these players and only examined their statistics betw16 — when Coman joined the team — and 2018/2019 — when Robbery left. Since Gnabry joined the team in the 2018/2019 season, I will exclude him from this exercise.
Let’s start with the non-Bundesliga competitions:
He’s played the second most games of the four wingers, and he’s second best which isn’t too bad.
Now, a look at their performances in the league:
In this one, Coman played in a good number of games. But unlike the others, this is the only table where he doesn’t have or share the lead in goals or assists.
While Coman has been able to rack up total numbers that lead his peers, his production in the Bundesliga — where the team plays most of their games — does not equal that of a high-class winger.
Let’s compare each player’s worst campaigns in the Bundesliga, looking again from 2015/2016 to present day sorted from best PPG to worst:
To put Coman’s PPG into perspective, both of his two goals came in an 8-0 win over Hamburg. His one assist came in a 6-0 win over Wolfsburg. This means he didn’t contribute to the scoresheet in 17 of the 19 games he played in that year.
Now it’s one thing to kick a man while he’s down, but when you look at his best seasons in the Bundesliga, they’re not the best either.
Coman has only one other season where he breaks ten points. He should be able to add the 2020/2021 season to that list, given that he has two goals and seven assists in ten games.
But, looking at what has been presented, he’s been an appalling winger in the statistical sense.
You can argue that not every winger needs to score goals in order to be effective, and I’d agree. But, Coman’s 2016/2017 season saw his career highs in goals AND assists, with only six and five respectively.
These are not numbers that equate with the starting time Coman has been getting. While this year is turning out to be better than expected for him, it’s now a question as to whether or not this year is an exception.
Bayern Has Done This Before
Allow me to shift our focus away from Kingsley Coman toward a different Bayern winger on our current roster.
Douglas Costa had a career high year his first season at Bayern, coincidentally also in the 2015/2016 season. His seven goals and 18 assists in 43 games were the most he’s ever had in his career and launched his value higher than ever before.
His 2016/2017 season saw him only playing 34 games after injuries sidelined him for 11 matches. Costa duplicated his tally of seven goals, but just missed out on double digit assists with nine.
Nevertheless, Bayern decided to loan the 26-year-old winger out to Juventus with an option to buy in the summer of the 2017/2018 season. It was essentially a case of the two clubs helping each other, because the day the window opened, Bayern exercised their buy option on Coman. Juventus, without a left winger for the season, took Costa in.
Much like his time at Bayern, Costa experienced a great season followed by a less than stellar one. His 2017/2018 campaign saw him finish with six goals and 13 assists in 47 games. It was a good campaign for him and Juventus brought him in permanently through his roughly €37 million buy clause.
Unfortunately for Costa, that summer, Juventus found another left winger to replace him when Cristiano Ronaldo joined the Turin club from Real Madrid. Costa’s production and market value plummeted from the lack of games.
So, you may be asking why I am bringing up the exploits of Costa. This was a case study in buying low and selling high. Bayern purchased Costa from Shakhtar Donetsk for just under €30 million and sold him at a €7 million profit. He was 27 at the time of his loan move and had the potential to become a great player, were it not for reasons out of his control.
This brings me to Kingsley Coman, who moved from Juventus for about €20 million. As I proved above, his statistical output in his past seasons has been subpar, especially considering the other players around him. Transfermarkt currently values him at $44 million USD (about €36 million). If he is sold, he will go for much more than that.
Selling Coman will most likely not happen, at least not any time soon. But, given his horrible history with injuries, his poor statistical output, and Bayern’s ability to turn a profit on wingers, the Bavarians could be forgiven for deciding to pull the trigger. If he improves this year, his star — and his price tag — will rise and Bayern can use the funds to either find a replacement for him or bolster another area of need.
At the end of the day, I appreciate Kingsley Coman for all he’s done. But, if Bayern believes it’s time to move on and find someone else, I would have to agree with them.