If you were to list the most talked about topics of the season so far, two would be near the top.
A uniform pressure structure will be necessary.
This is always an important part of the game. Player-to-player marking in advanced areas has become more common among non-prominent sides in recent years – to disrupt the opposition’s build-up in the early stages rather than sit in a deep block and draw pressure on your own defensive third.
The second topic is the high importance – and the increasing financial cost – of high-level defensive midfielders, who are responsible for being both the mainstay of their team and the destroyer of defenses without him.
While those duties have previously been split between two players, there has been a strong focus on having midfielders of all trades freeing up others wearing the same colored jersey elsewhere on the field. Tactical trends often rule the market But the focus has never been brighter on the importance of a good number 6.
This year’s transfers of Enzo Fernandez (£106m, $131m) from Benefica to Chelsea, Dylan Rice (£105m) from West Ham to Arsenal and Moise Caicedo (£115m) from Brighton to Chelsea have all but collapsed. Southampton’s Romeo Lavia – the 19-year-old, who has made just 29 top-flight appearances – is also part of a £58m move to Chelsea this summer.
Manchester City’s Rodri is set as the role model all defensive midfielders should look up to.
Not only did the Spaniard average 103.7 in 90 Premier League touches last season, he also had the most rebounds per 1,000 tackles (18.5) and had the third-highest aerial duel win rate (68.6 per cent). . Quite simply, Rodri is superior in both ownership and ownership, and the dearth of players with such skills is driving up spending in the transfer market.
Crucially, Rodri’s ability to receive the ball in tight spaces and withstand pressure from opposition players is arguably one of his assets.
as a The athleticsS Stewart James reported last month A Premier League sporting director has singled out new Nottingham Forest midfielder Ibrahim Sangare as a player whose price tag is out of reach this summer due to his weakness in escaping pressure when playing at the back.
“Caicido has the ball and technical ability and understanding to help you build in the first place, playing outside the goalkeeper, holding the ball 25 meters out and resisting the ball. Sangare didn’t understand (didn’t get it),” he explains.
“So when you get a (average) physical ability to do what those guys can do, they’re good defensively and good on the ball, that’s why you have a premium.”
The importance of having a press resistant average becomes evident in the numbers when you consider how long it takes to do it.
using data Skillcorner – Whose analysts extract metrics from the context of broadcast tracking data – We can see that midfielders in the Premier League are pressing more than anywhere else.
In terms of gameplay- Where you want to scan more than any other place in the center of the trunk – This creates a soccer feel, where midfielders are often asked to hold their team under some pressure on the pitch.
In particular, the number 6 receives balls from the defense and pressure from the back to the goal and from different directions.
While the differences are not uniformly pronounced, this trend in the Premier League is consistent with what is happening in the rest of Europe’s top five domestic leagues (Germany’s Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1).
What’s surprising is how much this rate varies between leagues – especially important in the context of the recent transfer window.
Will the midfielder from La Liga take longer to adapt to the demands of a similar role given the frequency he plays in the Premier League? Was there a reason the defensive midfielders (Rice and Caicido) were paid the highest rates for the two players in England at the highest rate?
The frequency with which a player receives pressure is one thing, but his ability to escape it is where elite players stand out.
In the year In 2022-23 we can analyze the share of all midfielders in pressure situations with the ball.
As you can see below, the usual suspects – Rodri, Real Madrid duo Toni Kroos and Aurelien Choumaeni, Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti (now with Qatari club Al Arabi) – are all understandably at the top of the dataset. Players who are repeatedly pressed and still come out with the ball.
However, as clubs look to fill that role in the summer market, will we see some names undervalued for this quality?
Using SkillCorner’s data, we can plot this press resistance alongside the pressures achieved by the average “30 minute team possession”. This allows us to determine the frequency with which a player is under pressure when their team is in possession of the ball.
Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka has pressured below the midfield but was one of the five best players in Europe last season for his ability to keep the ball and was integral to manager Luciano Spalletti’s title-winning side – acting as a key pillar between them. Defense and attack.
Salis played an equal role in guarding the ball as Abdulsameed Verratti and PSG pushed for the Ligue 1 title. Now the 23-year-old’s retention rate under pressure ranks fifth among his peers in the position – made all the more impressive considering his attempt rate (61.5 in 90) is the highest of all Lens midfielders.
Likewise, you can understand why many clubs are interested in signing new Manchester United loan signing Sofiane Amrabat, the Morocco international holds his own among Europe’s most popular midfielders.
Amrabat performed with his Italian parent club Fiorentina. Last season he was above average in the amount of tight situations and his ability to move through them, which will be very important. With their new goalkeeper Andre Onana, United have focused more on building a defense.
All this without discussing Rice, Celta Vigo’s Fran Beltran, La Liga side Getafe Carle Alena or, indeed, the man who single-handedly destroyed the market in the first place – Chelsea’s Fernandez.
It’s no surprise that many players who have been under pressure and who have reached the highest level of possession are already playing for the best teams in Europe. However, given the importance placed on the high-possession game and back-to-back passing down the pecking order, there is still room for some clubs to beat the market and get their metronomic and defensive player in a modest selection.
The new frontier of data access means we now have a means to measure that skill set.
(Top photo: Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)