GdS: Thiaw among the best U21 defenders in Europe – the impressive numbers

By Oliver Fisher -

Malick Thiaw’s rise to prominence has transformed AC Milan’s previously awful defensive record and the numbers show just how vital he has become, a report claims.

La Gazzetta dello Sport writes how Thiaw’s aggression was summed up perfectly in the 25th minute of Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw against Spurs as Lenglet fed Kane who came to take the ball in midfield and the German was on him. The striker tried to shake him off, but Thiaw followed the Englishman and pressured him to pass the ball wide.

After starting the 1-0 win against Torino last month Thiaw hasn’t looked back and the new formation has made him irremovable, so much so that in the last five outings the Rossoneri have conceded only two goals against La Viola.

Despite having played less than other U21s such as Gvardiol – valued at €80m or more – Lukeba, Badiashile, Hincapié, Timber, Collins and Atalanta’s Scalvini, Thiaw is at the top of almost all statistics.

The German has played 960 minutes this season, the least of all, but he wins 6.16 duels per game. The closest is Scalvini with 4.85 in 21 appearances. Thiaw is also first for tackles won (1.63 per game), aerial duels won (3.60), defensive clearances (6.63) and defensive headed clearances (4.53).

His passing needs to be improved as it is the lowest among the defenders analysed, while Gvardiol touches the ball twice as much on average, as does Ajax’s Timber.

Another relevant figure is that relating to the percentage of clean sheets with him on the pitch: 42.9% (in 14 appearances). Behind him are Saliba (36.7) and Badiashile (36.4). Gvardiol has 17.2, Lukeba 15, but of course they played twice as many games.

Thiaw is second in average tackles per game – 1.86, against Hincapiè’s 2 – and in defensive blocks (4.50). He is third for intercepted balls (1.36, behind Scalvini and Badiashile).

Tags AC Milan Malick Thiaw

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