The Premier League along with the other top divisions in the world has progressed to the point where a good ‘head and kick defender’ isn’t good enough anymore.
The demand of a highly competent range of passing has become a key point in most manager’s train of thought when signing new centre backs, especially if you are part of a side that likes to keep possession and build-up fluid attacks.
Stephen Pickering takes a look at this season’s best Premier League passing centre-backs:
Ashley Williams – Swansea - Ashley Williams made a name for himself in the Championship as one of the classiest defenders in the football league, the trait hasn’t worn off and is now producing at the very top level.
The Welsh defender has recorded a 89.2% pass accuracy rating and as well as that, he is producing on average 62.8 passes a game, which is staggering!
The accuracy of his long ball has also been amongst the best in the division, with an impressive 55/80 finding their intended target, it leaves him 6th overall in accurate long balls in the league. Although Swansea are far from a long-ball side, it’s always handy to have a player like that in your side who can speed up the play.
Michael Dawson – Tottenham – The former Nottingham Forest man is now a Premier League veteran for the North London side, and seems to have grown into his captaincy role nicely. Although, considered a very reliable defender you don’t hear much of his passing ability, which is clearly very much unsung.
The England international has recorded a 84.7% pass accuracy and averages 60.1 passes per game, this is an incredible record for any player, never mind a centre back.
The most impressive passing trait the Spurs captain has is his locker is undoubtedly his long ball accuracy, which stands at 93/141 finding their intended target, an average of 8.5 a game. Tottenham are renowned as a side that like to attack with pace and directness, and the captain’s long ball prowess is a major factor of that style.
John Terry – Chelsea – The former England captain is often renowned for his sharp and intelligent play on the field, and that transcends into his passing ability too.
The former England captain has recorded a 91.7% pass accuracy along with making on average 59.1 passes a game. Despite being a ‘short distance’ ball mover, this takes nothing away from the Chelsea man’s passing ability as he has an uncouth talent of finding the intended target.
In terms of his long ball accuracy, it is very good but in comparison to the other defenders he simply doesn’t play this time of game. On average, he will play 4.7 long balls a game, and overall has a record of 52/68 finding their intended target. He is on the pitch to move the ball intelligently and smartly, finding gaps in the opposition’s midfield to slot his team-mates in.
Phil Jagielka – Everton - The former Sheffield United defender is another one that was well documented for his style and class in the Football League and has carried it on at the very top.
In his Sheffield United days he was often considered a midfield player which says a lot about his range of passing and how key it is to his game. This season he has recorded a 85.7% pass accuracy with his 624 Premier League passes, averaging out at 56.7 passes a game.
The most impressive trait of the Everton man is the long ball accuracy he possesses, on average Jagielka makes 9.5 long ball passes a game, that is derived from 105/154 finding their intended man.
Nemanja Vidic – Manchester United – A Premier League great, renowned for his immense defensive abilities often gets overlooked as a ball playing centre half, but much like Terry he is definitely unsung in this area and is one of Manchester United’s most accurate passing players.
The Serbian has been in good form this term, and his most recent performance against Arsenal’s inform front man Olivier Giroud was well documented. He has been on form with his passing too, this season he has a 87.7% pass success rate, and averages 42.8 passes a game.
He has been helping United move their attack along quicker too, recording on average 6.9 accurate long balls a game, 55/66 overall.
image: © nasmac