How Data Helped Negotiate A $100 Million Deal

Kevin De Bruyne signed a ~$100M contract extension with Manchester City last week. Today's email breaks down how he used data analytics to make it happen.

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Despite having two years remaining on his current deal, Kevin De Bruyne signed a new ~$100 million contract with Manchester City last week. That’s a ~30% increase from his current deal and extends the PFA Player of the Year’s stay at the Etihad Stadium to 2025.

The interesting part?

Kevin De Bruyne didn’t use an agent to broker the deal, conducting negotiations with Manchester City himself, with his father, lawyer, and management team at Roc Nation assisting remotely.

Even better?

The 29-year-old midfielder worked with a team of data analysts to assess his current influence at Man City and his projected value in the future.

Recognizing the shift that big data was about to play in the future of professional sports, former West Ham scout and Brentford B coach Jeremy Steele founded Analytics FC in 2015.

The vision was simple: To work hand-in-hand with the biggest football clubs, federations, and agencies worldwide to provide predictive analytics that allows their organizations to make smarter decisions (Source).

Kevin De Bruyne utilized their flagship product, called “TransferLab,” a software system powered by smart algorithms that calculates a player’s “contribution value.” The contribution value is determined based on hundreds of metrics, but in simple terms, it tells you the effect a player has had on their team’s chances of scoring or conceding goals — among other things.

By working with a company like Analytics FC, Kevin De Bruyne could intelligently quantify and communicate his contributions to Manchester City through data — receiving a 30% raise in the process.

The best part?

The data not only helped him negotiate a 30% raise, but it convinced him that Manchester City was the best club for him to continue his career at.

That’s a win-win.

While Kevin De Bruyne was the first professional athlete to utilize AnalyticsFC for contract negotiations, he isn’t the first professional athlete to rely on data as a deciding factor in a major career decision.

Manchester United forward Memphis Depay worked with another data analytics firm, SciSports, in late 2016 to determine five suitable clubs that could help resurrect his faltering career. For example, he wanted to have “more freedom when attacking so he could make optimum use of one of his key qualities — creativity.”

The model picked Lyon, and Memphis Depay has been extremely successful, scoring almost 60 goals since joining the club in 2017.

Kevin De Bruyne working with an analytics company to quantify his past, present, and future athletic contributions through data, while saving millions of dollars on agent fees might seem like a surprise now, but it won’t in the future.

That’s not to say agents aren’t valuable. They are, especially to the majority of players who don’t command top-tier salaries. But today’s athletes are smarter than ever. They realize the importance of things like diet, training, and sleep, and, more importantly, the role that data plays in all of it.

My guess?

All professional athletes will be armed with a portfolio of data when negotiating contracts in the future. It’s simply a matter of when not if.

Have a great day, and we’ll talk tomorrow.

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