We’re heading into the third season of match day dividends, with the highest dividends ever seen on offer, and even now I still wonder how we coped without them for over a year prior to it’s introduction. The beauty of performance dividends is anything can happen and at times it really has. Just look back to the last day of the season when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing of Cardiff win the forward dividend away at Old Trafford!
Now while this is what makes the platform exciting (and also stops Football Index going bankrupt from paying the same players every week) it also means that nothing can be taken with certainty and that player and team circumstances change. For better and for worse, and because one player did well last year doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily do well next season and visa versa. I’m going to use this article to try and highlight some of the most important things to consider when comparing one season’s performance to projections of next season’s.
First of all, some players can do if continuously, and I am by no means saying that it’s not possible to be a great match day dividend winner two, or even three years in a row. In fact, below you can see the highest match day dividend winners of the last two seasons and you can see that lots of names come up in both lists.
Messi topped both of the first match day dividend leaderboards which is a shock to no one really, and Neymar and Parejo also make the top 15 two years on the bounce but surprisingly that’s it. That’s because a lot can change in a year and that’s what this article is going to demonstrate.
The competitions they're in
There are plenty of factors that can change, the first one I want to mention is European football. The latter stages of Europe offer treble dividend rewards with much smaller player pools, which gives some players a much higher chance of winning, especially when they make it to the business end of the tournament. Ronaldo is a perfect example of this. In the 2017/18 season, 10p (34%) of his dividends came from European competition. Now of course, Ronaldo also changed clubs which is another factor that will impact his performance metrics but focusing on the European competitions, when a third of dividends come from Champions League matches and you go out much earlier the season after you’re going to struggle a little, hence why it's not surprising his dividend return has fallen so much. This is something to take into consideration when evaluating someone’s dividend potential before a season has kicked off. If they’re not in Europe this time around, or you think their chances of progressing have changed then it’s almost certainly going to impact their dividend performance. The same can be said the other way round, however, and sometimes a team dropping into the Europa League rather than being in the champions league can be a blessing in disguise if they’re still likely to get played.
The players around you
Injury is another factor that can impact a dividend return. Now of course injury can’t really be predicted too often, but I’m not really talking about the returns of the injured player. I'm talking about the impact of injuries on the rest of the team. A great example of this comes from Lyon in the 2017/18 season. Fekir picked up a long term injury that saw him sidelined for the majority of the second half of the season and this paved the way for Depay to step up. Not only did he become more central to the team, he played further forward and also got to take on the set piece roles. This led to his performance improving incredibly along with his dividend yield and price, yielding a total of 27p, 20p of which came in April and May, but as you can see, he failed to keep that up the season after. Fekir returned and depay was pushed out again, resulting in a 2018/19 dividend return of just 5p. So this is something to consider, of course in this situation, if Fekir does leave, Depay could end up in a similar situation to his 2017/18 Index heroics so could potentially be one to watch.
This leads nicely onto the next factor, transfers. This can also work both ways. When a player changes teams his performances are obviously going to be impacted, as already mentioned, Ronaldo is a good example of this. It’s hard to actually think of a big name who has moved team and become much better for performance dividends since the introduction of Match Day Dividends. Van Dijk is probably an obvious but good one. Hazard and Jovic have already moved to Madrid this window and will definitely be worth monitoring to see which way their returns go. The other way you can look at this is the impact of new players arriving on the existing team. Griezmann's arrival at the Camp Nou is one of those situations. His own returns will certainly be impeeded by competing with Messi every week and presumably losing all or most of his set piece duties he had at Athletico. It could also impact Messi too, possibly sharing more goals and duties with the french man, but after all this is Messi so I wouldn't be too worried if I held him.
Now, of course I’ve not covered everything there but they are three of the most important factors to consider when trying to work out who’ll be able to maintain previous form and who won’t. It's also definitely worth considering possible position or managerial changes too.
Overall, I guess the message is only a few are great at performing for Match Day Dividends, even fewer are good enough to do it consistently.