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Top midfielders for ball retention under high pressure

The 450th issue of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post analyses the game intelligence data produced exclusively by our partners SkillCorner to reveal the one hundred midfielders with the best statistics in terms of ball retention under high pressure* in 28 leagues around the world.

The best percentage in absolute terms was recorded for a player who is relatively unknown in Europe: Darlington Nagbe (93.4%) of Columbus Crew.

Four better-known midfielders rank behind Nagbe: Rodri Hernández of Manchester City (92.1%), Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona (91.8%), Toni Kroos of Real Madrid (also 91.8%), and Granit Xhaka of Bayer Leverkusen (91.6%).

Many footballers from teams playing a possession-based game are among the top-ranked ones, showing that the individual ability to keep possession also depends on the solutions offered by teammates.

The three youngest players in the top 100 are Paris St-Germain’s Warren Zaïre-Emery, Barcelona’s Pablo Gavi and Hull City’s Tyler Morton (on loan from Liverpool), followed by Gerard Yepes (Sampdoria) and Pablo Maia (São Paulo).

The data refers to the current season or the last completed one for summer leagues. Only footballers who have played at least 1,000 domestic league minutes have been included in the rankings.

A player is considered under pressure when he is in possession of the ball and at least one opponent player nearby him is trying to either recover the ball or limit his options. For each situation, SkillCorner determines the intensity of pressure by considering the speed of the players applying it, their distance to the player in possession and the angle of their movement.

More information is available here.

>>> Top 100

About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group created in 2005 within the Swiss-based Centre International d’Étude du Sport (CIES). It specialises in the statistical analysis of football, in particular in the areas of demographics, transfer values and performance.

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About the CIES

The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) is an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It was created in 1995 as a joint venture between the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the University of Neuchâtel, the City and State of Neuchatel.

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CIES – Centre International d’Étude du Sport

Avenue DuPeyrou 1, 2000 Neuchâtel
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Phone +41 32 718 39 00
Fax +41 32 718 39 01


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