SAM: Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic 'worth extra 10 points' to Manchester United

Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba will be worth an extra 10 points to Manchester United this season, according to a sport analytics machine.

Pogba, 23, arrived at United this week for a world record £89m fee, while Ibrahimovic, 34, joined on a free.

Statisticians at the University of Salford ran tests to see how many points Jose Mourinho's side would win with and without the two new signings.

They found the pair increase United's chances of winning the league by 4%.

SAM, the sport analytics machine designed by Salford's 's Centre for Sports Business statisticians, uses a series of algorithms to forecast the results of a variety of sporting fixtures.

To return a verdict on Ibrahimovic and Pogba's influence, the experts ran the full Premier League season through SAM 10,000 times.

Transfer record graph

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Striker Ibrahimovic scored 38 league goals for French champions Paris St-Germain last season, and SAM has forecast that the Swede would account for eight extra points alone over the coming campaign.

French midfielder Pogba, meanwhile, provided 12 assists as Juventus won Serie A, with SAM predicting he would add an extra 1.3 points to United's total on his own - and that, together, they would add 10 points.

An extra 10 points for United last season would have lifted them from fifth place to second.

"Attacking players can make the biggest difference on the pitch and this just shows what a bargain Ibrahimovic could prove to be," said Ian McHale, professor of Sports Analytics at the University of Salford.

"Pogba, on the other hand, was expensive. Some may think he was overpriced and our stats show he is not likely to have as big an impact as Zlatan.

"But he is one for the future and if he helps propel United into the Champions League, then it will be money well spent."

SAM takes into account multiple factors, such as which team is at home, the strength of teams that both sides have played as well as the quality and the form of the players on the pitch.

"These results are entirely based on real data," added McHale. "Data is the fuel of our system, and the algorithms are the engine. It is entirely done using numbers, there is nothing subjective about the results that SAM comes up with."

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