Bundesliga 20-21: Ranking the 5 best ball-carriers in the league so far

EDavid Alaba (left) and Mats Hummels (right)
EDavid Alaba (left) and Mats Hummels (right)
Jayesh Motwani

The Bundesliga is home to some of the best pressing teams in the world and it is also one of the most European open leagues where goals are scored for fun. Any young attacking player hoping to build confidence considers going to the Bundesliga, which has now become a trend, especially among English talents.

The space available between the lines means ball-carriers have a bigger impact in the Bundesliga than normal, especially on transitions. Due to the high press and the high lines installed by different teams, centre-backs in Germany's top-flight have to act as the team's primary ball-carriers and they end up covering the most distance with the ball at their feet.

Without further ado, here are the best ball-carriers from the Bundesliga, ranked according to their total ball-carrying distance (in meters), recorded by FBref.

#5 Dayot Upamecano (7559)

RB Leipzig's engine from the back
RB Leipzig's engine from the back

Dayot Upamecano is a name that has been resonating all around Europe for quite some time and with good reason. One of the best ball-playing centre-backs in world football, the young Frenchman is pivotal to Julian Naglesmann's three at the back system.

The 22-year-old possesses the technicality of a midfielder and that's somewhat incredible, considering his size. Upamecano can glide with the ball and often finds himself in midfield when RB Leipzig face stubborn low blocks in their Bundesliga matches.

It is safe to say that Bayern Munich's interest in him is warranted.

#4 Manuel Akanji (7583)

Manuel Akanji celebrating
Manuel Akanji celebrating

Manuel Akanji is a highly rated centre-back whose expertise in possession allows him to drive into space without any difficulty. His tall frame makes him less agile but he makes up for it through the use of his pace.

Under Edin Terzic, who loves to deploy the 3-4-3, Akanji operates as a right-sided centre-back, often picking up possession and making driving runs. He hasn't attempted many dribbles (0.4 dribbles completed per game in this season's Bundesliga) and yet, his ball-carrying numbers are so good, indicating how little risk he takes.

The 25-year-old Switzerland international is another among a long host of talented defenders in the Bundesliga.

#3 David Alaba (7905)

The hottest free agent on the market come summer
The hottest free agent on the market come summer

David Alaba is as versatile as any footballer can get. He can play a variety of roles, ranging from midfield to defense. Under Hansi Flick, he has primarily been deployed as a left-sided centre-back, tasked with instigating attacks from the back.

The 28-year-old is technically elegant and visually pleasing, although he still has a lot to work on defensively. He isn't too dominant in the air and that does make him a target for the opposition at times but with the ball at his feet, there simply aren't many better than him. From such a defensive position, the Austrian averages an outstanding 1 key pass per game.

#2 Edmond Tapsoda (7994)

Edmond Tapsoda is enjoying the season of his life
Edmond Tapsoda is enjoying the season of his life

Edmond Tapsoda has become a mainstay in Peter Bosz's heavily improved Bayer Leverkusen. Calmness is the word that best defines Tapsoda and whenever he is in possession of the ball, he flaunts his technical skills like not many centre-backs can.

The 22-year-old is a risk-free passer who refuses to break lines unless absolutely necessary. Occasionally, he loves to dribble his way out of trouble and that's where his insane ball-carrying numbers come from. There are a lot of things he can work on defensively but with the ball at his feet, he is as reliable as any.

#1 Mats Hummels (8168)

Hummels: A master ball-playing defender
Hummels: A master ball-playing defender

Mats Hummels is arguably one of the best ball-playing centre-backs football has ever seen. Even though there are question marks over his ability to defend as well as he did during his prime, the German is still going strong when it comes to in-possession stats.

The 32-year-old oozes class with the ball at his feet. Thanks to his giant strides, Hummels can cover ground very quickly and without the opposition even realizing it, he can go from one box to another in a matter of seconds.

With Borussia Dortmund struggling for form, the Signal Iduna Park outfit will be hoping their veteran centre-back rises to the occasion and gets them Champions League football for next season.

Edited by Rohit Mishra


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