Jamie Vardy

Following his outstanding goalscoring in the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, for which he won the Golden Boot Award, Jamie Vardy has been rewarded with a new contract at Leicester City. At thirty-three years old, we assess Vardy’s numbers and whether this deal could come back to haunt Leicester.

Jamie Vardy Signs New Contract: Finishing Analysis

Finishing Analysis: Breakdown of Jamie Vardy's shooting by body part. Data as of Thu, 20 August 2020.
Finishing Analysis: Breakdown of Jamie Vardy’s shooting by body part. Data as of Thu, 20 August 2020.

There is no doubt Vardy had a terrific year for Leicester City. As you can see above, regardless of whether it is headers or strikes with either foot, Vardy is an accomplished finisher. He outperformed xG off of all three body parts highlighted above. He also converted 62% of the big-chances that came his way, which is elite.

Finishing Analysis: Non-Penalty Shot Map of Jamie Vardy. Data as of Thu, 20 August 2020.
Finishing Analysis: Non-Penalty Shot Map of Jamie Vardy. Data as of Thu, 20 August 2020.

Vardy’s shot map also shows how refined a shot taker he is. There is almost no waste on his shot map, with only four low-xG shots from outside the area. His shots are all very central showing he attacks the three key zones – front post, back post and penalty spot – and managed to sniff out chances in the six-yard box.

We have also highlighted in the past how Jamie Vardy is particularly effective when playing against the ‘big sides’ in the Premier League.

Jamie Vardy Signs New Contract: Signs of Aging?

Moving average of Open-Play Expected Goal Involvement for Jamie Vardy over the last six seasons. Data as of Thu, 20 August 2020.
Moving average of Open-Play Expected Goal Involvement for Jamie Vardy over the last six seasons. Data as of Thu, 20 August 2020.

We can see that Jamie has enjoyed something of a renaissance since Brendan Rodgers joined the club. Until that point, he had been consistently performing at or below the levels of an average forward for nearly three years straight.

Moving average of Open-Play Non-Penalty Goal Involvement and percentage of over/under performance of xG for Jamie Vardy over the last six seasons. Data as of Thu, 20 August 2020.
Moving average of Open-Play Non-Penalty Goal Involvement and percentage of over/under performance of xG for Jamie Vardy over the last six seasons. Data as of Thu, 20 August 2020.

All of this aligns nicely with the drop-off that analysts have identified with footballers, and particularly attacking players, once they leave their ‘peak years’.

Michael Caley has written in the past about the football age curve. In short, as a player exits their physical peak years of approximately 24-28 years old, we tend to see a sharp decline in various metrics on average.

Jamie Vardy Signs New Contract: The Football Aging Curve

Graph from Michael Caley’s article on ‘The Football Aging Curve

Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule for everyone. Player’s numbers are not falling off a cliff on the day of their 29th birthday. It’s an average!

However, once players reach a certain age, they struggle to maintain levels more. Playing time throughout their careers may have taken a toll on their bodies and starts to catch up with them. Injuries start to have debilitating effects on their physical attributes and availability.

A three-year contract for the Golden Boot award winner on the back of their best season may seem like a no-brainer. However, it could be that Rodgers has found a way to squeeze every last bit of ability out of a 33-year-old goalscorer and a huge drop could be on the horizon.

A glossary of all the terms used in this article and throughout the site as a whole is available here. Also, click on any image in the article for a full-size high definition version.

All data used in our articles is sourced from Understat, FBRef, Sofascore, Transfermarkt and 538.

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