Did you know that Arsenal signing Park Chu Young helped the club become the future of sports analytics?
Back in 2011, Arsenal signed a South-Korean forward by the name of Park Chu Young. No one knew who he was but back in those days, it wasn’t unusual for Arsene Wenger to sign no-name players. Many assumed it was for shirt sales and expanding our fan base, which seems like a pretty accurate read on the situation considering he only featured seven times during his time in north London before he was loaned out to Celta Vigo and then Watford, before being sold to Al-Shabab in 2014.
A pointless signing if ever I saw one.
Or was he?
According to a fascinating article in the New York Times by Rory Smith, it was the signings of Park Chu Young and Marouane Chamakh that finally encouraged Arsene Wenger to buy StatDNA – a sports analytics company based in Chicago – to bring Arsenal to the forefront of sports analysis.
Although Arsenal already used StatDNA and payed $250,000 for complete exclusivity, other clubs were beginning to approach them for their services, which included transfer advice using data.
Chairman Ivan Gazidis and Hendrik Almstadt, one of Wenger’s most trusted advisers, believed that, to prevent this, Arsenal should buy StatDNA outright for $4m, which the boss was somewhat skeptical about.
Therefore, Gazidis and Almstadt made a presentation, using Park Chu Young and Chamakh as examples of players we would have avoided signing and wasting money on if we had had this system in place previously.
Wenger went for it and now Arsenal own StatDNA and are at the forefront of sports analytics with other teams looking to follow in our footsteps.
We bought Gabriel in 2015 after following their advice and they were also behind Wenger’s pursuit of Gonzalo Higuaín.