The stats don’t lie, and they say that Phil Jones is the best defender under the age of 23 in Europe, beating the likes of Raphael Varane and Marquinhos!
The CIES Football Observatory is a specialist research foundation based in Switzerland whose sole purpose is statistical research in football.
They recently conducted a study of the best young players (age 23 and under) in Europe in their respective player categories (defenders, midfielder etc.).
They used a number of Key Performance Indicators for determining their rankings:
Shooting – Ability to take advantage of goal scoring opportunities with accurate shooting.
Chance Creation – The ability to play other players into goal scoring positions.
Take Ons – The ability to successfully challenge opponents.
Distribution – Efficiency of passing.
Recovery – The ability to minimise attacking threats from the opposition through interception.
Rigour – The ability to minimise attacking threats from the opposition through duelling (on the ground and in the air).
In a result that is sure to be a surprise to everyone (including Phil Jones) the young United defender topped the charts.
Jones (along with Chris Smalling) have come under a lot of pressure during their time at United, especially under the reign of Moyes. A lot of questions were asked about whether he had the calibre to be a United player. People didn’t take into account that he had to shoulder a lot of responsibility at a young age following the departure of Ferdinand and Vidic from United’s ranks. This season, under Louis Van Gaal, Jones has been played in his natural centre back position and has gone on to remind people why he was so highly rated by Sir Alex Ferguson.
We couldn’t get hold of the exact statistical data that CIES compiled but a quick comparison on Squawka between the top four candidates seems to back up their findings
As you can see Jones leads the way in successful take ons (Take Ons), tackles won and interceptions (Recovery). In the other key areas such as successful passes (Distribution), Total Duels Won (Rigour) and key passes (Chance Creation) he is a close second.
Surprising at first, it looks like Phil Jones is turning into the defender we all thought he would be.