Ball retention is crucial in the Premier League where dictating proceedings is preferable to chasing.
That is why playmakers, be they holding or attacking, come at a premium, with the qualities they bring helping teams to tick.
Defenders that are comfortable in possession have also become a much sought-after commodity with modern managers looking to play out from the back and move through the gears rather than going from first to fifth with one aimless swing of a boot.
Manchester United were one side to look at addressing both areas over the summer using the funds entrusted to Louis van Gaal upon his arrival at Old Trafford to try and piece together a jigsaw which had become rather jumbled under his predecessor David Moyes.
Key areas in need of strengthening were identified and the spine of the side required the most work.
Daley Blind, a player Van Gaal knew well from his time in charge of the Dutch national side, was drafted in to provide steel and nous in midfield. Marcos Rojo was snapped up after impressing for Argentina during their run through to the 2014 World Cup final and a British record fee was splashed out to acquire his fellow countryman Angel Di Maria from European champions Real Madrid. All in all, close to £90million was shelled out on those three players alone.
It would, however, appear to have been money well spent, with fresh faces settling quickly in new surroundings and rising towards the top of the charts when it comes to ensuring that United put themselves in the best possible position to hurt opponents.
|Position||Team||Accurate Pass||Total Pass||Fwd Pass||Touches||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Daley Blind||MF||Man Utd||407||454||101||557||7||630|
|Marcos Rojo||DF||Man Utd||386||448||205||570||7||596|
|Tyler Blackett||DF||Man Utd||316||359||151||424||6||462|
|Juan Mata||MF||Man Utd||301||328||55||398||8||577|
|Ángel Di María||MF||Man Utd||287||364||112||597||8||663|
|Wayne Rooney||FW||Man Utd||286||349||53||462||7||599|
|Ander Herrera||MF||Man Utd||254||287||78||359||5||366|
|Antonio Valencia||MF||Man Utd||216||249||56||379||6||388|
|Chris Smalling||DF||Man Utd||214||238||58||296||5||323|
|Phil Jones||DF||Man Utd||204||229||58||312||4||360|
|Luke Shaw||DF||Man Utd||154||183||56||304||5||431|
|Robin van Persie||FW||Man Utd||148||174||30||281||9||758|
|Adnan Januzaj||MF||Man Utd||104||126||34||220||8||345|
Blind, as the link man between defence and attack, has become United’s go-to player and more of their play passes through him than any of his team-mates.
Rojo also shines when it comes to keeping possession in red hands, while Di Maria has had more touches than anyone else to have played more than 300 minutes of Premier League football for United this season.
The trio were brought in to add something different to the Old Trafford ranks, and they would appear to be delivering an immediate return on the investment.
Just a top-four finish to chase down now, then!