The summer months each year are populated with exciting rumours of potential player acquisitions, as well as fear of losing beloved members of the Celtic squad.

This year’s seasonal period has already kicked off, with the signing of Odin Thiago Holm already completed and now the acquisition of Marco Tilio. Stewart Ross already provided an excellent scouting review of Tilio, and I strongly encourage readers who have not already done so to review his analysis. 

As a compliment to this, a purely data benchmarking exercise has been completed for Tilio, which is an analytical framework I have been conducting on new Celtic signings for several seasons. The main concept behind the exercise is to try and ascertain how well each player has performed within the league in which they most recently played, as well as a benchmark that performance is relative to a custom sample of similarly aged from Wyscout’s global player database for all senior competitions. 

In addition to benchmarking the various performance metrics relative to league and age-based peer groups, the ensemble of metrics can offer insight into relative strengths and weaknesses, or at least that is the expectation. 

For Marco Tilio, the first benchmarking report is for the trailing 12-month period for all attacking wide players in the Australian A-League who played 1,500+ minutes:

Celtic Way:

As the report showed, there were 29 players that met the selected criteria, and Tilio’s percentile ranking for each category was shown. For example, Tilio ranked first out of the 29 players in xG per 90 minutes over the last 12 months and therefore ranked in the 100th percentile. On the flip side, he ranked very low for his success rate in winning aerial duels, registering in the seventh percentile. 

For a club like Celtic, which is looking to make strides in Europe, one of the first analytical questions it is worth asking is, did a player competing in a lower-quality league dominate? In total, the answer to this question for Tilio is very much 'yes'.

READ MORE: Reo Hatate, Saudi and how Celtic can take transfer advantage

As Stewart’s scouting report also concluded, Tilio’s data profile is that of a technical player at the A-League level, as he dominated in offensive duels, dribbles, ball progression carrying the ball, as well as high levels of passing efficiency. It is important context that Tilio’s team, Melbourne City, have been one of the most attacking and possession-dominant teams in the A-League over both seasons within the 12-month sample period. 

Several ratios were derived from Wyscout’s metrics, including xA per shot assist, key pass per shot assist, and accelerations per progressive run. The goal of these ratios is to try and ascertain another level of insight into players’ potential strengths and weaknesses, as well as how much their production may have been derivative of things like team style of play and relative league standing. 

In Tilio’s case, the xA per shot assist and key pass per shot assist were both around average among the 29-player sample. This may suggest that his decision-making when making attacking passes could use some improvement, which would not be all that unusual given his relative youth at 21. The low percentile for accelerations per progressive run could be an indication that he lacks high-end speed, which is another qualitative observation Stewart made in his scouting report.

Next up was a far larger age-based peer group, comprised of 428 attacking wide players aged between 19 and 22 who played at least 2,000 minutes over the past 12 months across all global senior competitions.

There is also a column added for a player whose name should be familiar that happened to be included within the sample, Liel Abada. An important nuance to this portion of the exercise is to remember that each player’s data is reflected of their performances at their specific level. For example, Abada’s top group of attacking metrics are near the very top of the sample, but obviously, that was playing for Celtic in Scotland. Another player in the sample who similarly ranked very high across various categories was Ansu Fati at Barcelona. Therefore, this is not an exercise in a direct comparison of player quality but rather a comparison amongst the age-based peer group as to how each player performed at their specific level and circumstances. 

READ MORE: Brendan Rodgers' 'tweaks and refinements' will see added Celtic power

Tilio and Abada had some similarities relative to neither player being ball-dominant, as displayed via their lower percentile in volumes of various passes, and considering both played for possession-dominant teams. In addition, both produced high levels of progressive runs but appear to lack top-end speed, which again may be reflective of playing for dominant sides where space to carry the ball was plentiful. 

Some important differences are present, however. Abada was just incredibly dominant for his age playing at the SPFL Premiership level when it came to getting onto the end of and creating chances, both in volume and average quality. For a player that appears to lack some technical ability, as reflected in his lower percentile ranking for successful dribble rate, he just seemed to have a knack for being extremely dangerous around opposition penalty areas. Tilio also ranks well overall in this regard, but Abada was simply at an elite level. 

Tilio appeared to have a more robust profile for defending, which could be partly why Abada struggled to secure first-team starting minutes at times this past season at Celtic. While I would characterize Tilio’s profile as serviceable, if not impressive, Abada’s was closer to deficient.

If Abada ends up departing Celtic this summer, the statistical evidence is clear that he could have value for teams in one of the Big 5 leagues who are looking for an attacking forward and can manage around his deficient defensive profile. Tilio's arrival looks like he could play a part in the potential replacement of Abada. His profile appeared to offer a lower, if still robust tier of attacking and chance-creating prowess while possibly offering more defensive resiliency. Perhaps his standout skill was his ability to beat opponents 1 v 1 on the ball, which would be a stark contrast to Abada and may make his style of play more appealing to many supporters’ eyes.