Miku winning the numbers game

Nicolas Ladislao Fedor Flores, better known as Miku, has had an incredible 2016 with Rayo Vallecano and has certainly kept his team in the survival race so far this season. Miku hardly played during the whole of 2015. However, Paco Jemez finally gave a chance to the 30-year-old in the New Year and the striker hasn’t looked back ever since.

This is Miku’s eight season in La Liga and arguably one of the best, even though he did scored 12 goals with Getafe back in the 2011-12 season. The Venezuelan played fewer than 10 matches in three of his years in Spain and at the start of this campaign it seemed that it was also going to be quiet for Miku, who only played four matches in 2015 before turning things around in 2016.

Since the start of the calendar year, Miku has scored six La Liga goals and provided three assists. Only 10 players have had a direct participation in more goals in 2016. Of those 10, only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have provided more assists, while only Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have played fewer games in 2016.

Miku has scored in all three games that he managed an assist so far this season. This is quite an impressive achievement since only Ronaldo, Suarez (6), Bale (5), Neymar and Messi (4) have managed more games in La Liga with a goal and an assist, nobody with fewer games than Rayo’s No 7.

Where Miku has really stand up so far this year is in his importance to the team. Despite the fact that the Vallecas’ side has lost 14 matches this season, they have only lost once in Miku’s 12 starts this season. Rayo have also picked up 17 points with the Vinotinto striker compared to 15 without him, and they have never lose when Miku finds the back of the net. Rayo have scored 17 goals with Miku on the pitch, allowing just 15, for a goal difference of two. Without Miku they have a goal difference of -22.

To see what the numbers mean we created a list of 78 La Liga players who have played at least 13 matches or 900 minutes and a maximum of 20 games or fewer than 1,674 minutes. This is every player who has played between 40% to 60% of the La Liga minutes, enough time to make an impact on their teams but not as much as to see how the team does without them by contrast. For the record, Miku has played 15 games and a total of 973 minutes.

In this list, the goal differential of Miku (+24) is the best among all 78 players, just ahead of Sporting's Carlos Carmona (+22), Mikel Oyarzabal (+21) from Real Sociedad and Pepe from Real Madrid (+20), while another big Real Madrid name, James Rodriguez, has the second-worst mark with -21.

We also analysed the points by each team with or without this player on the pitch. With Miku, Rayo have picked up 17 points compared to the 14 without him. In terms of points per game, Paco Jemez’s side picks on average 1.13 points with the striker compare to 0.88 without him.

Everything considered, Nicolas Fedor ‘Miku’ has had a remarkable season and has been a key piece in Rayo Vallecano’s campaign so far. He is having perhaps his best year at the age of 30, ranking at the top of the list in many categories. Even though it is unlikely that Miku will reproduce the same numbers yet again next season, certainly this year he has been an elite striker.