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Performance analysis of 2019 Ballon d’Or nominees for the period Jan to Oct' 19, Part 3: Defenders

Matthijs de Ligt
Matthijs de Ligt
Bhargav

The 30 nominees for the 2019 Ballon d'Or award, announced by the French football magazine French Football, comprise players from 12 different clubs and 15 different nationalities.

Continuing on from the first part of the 2019 Ballon d'Or nominee player report card which dealt with strikers, and the second part which analyses the performance of the midfielders, this third part deals with the performance of the defenders.

Similar to the evaluation for strikers and midfielders, the evaluation for defenders also considers 2 points for each goal scored, 1 point for assists, and 5 points for any title won for club or country.

Let us meet the defenders who have been nominated for the prestigious 2019 Ballon d'Or.

#5 Kalidou Koulibaly (SSC Napoli, Senegal)

Kalidou Koulibaly
Kalidou Koulibaly

Renowned for his aerial prowess, tackling, passing ability and physicality, Kalidou Koulibaly has been the bedrock of the Napoli defence since he joined the south Italian club in the summer of 2014.

Koulibaly's ability to play the ball out from defence makes him an integral part of coach Maurizio Sarri's possession-based footballing philosophy at Napoli. The 28-year-old Senegalese's versatility is exploited in a variety of defensive roles such as centre-back, full-back and even in defensive midfield.

Kouilbaly has also contributed upfront during the calendar year, scoring two Serie A goals in 17 games.

Kalidou Koulibaly in 2019
Kalidou Koulibaly in 2019

#4 Marquinhos (Paris St. Germain, Brazil)

Marquinhos
Marquinhos

Marquinhos predominantly plays as a full-back but his versatility has also seen him don roles in defensive midfield and right-back positions. Marquinhos' composure on the ball, positional sense and ability from set-pieces makes him an integral part for his club as well as national team.

The 25-year-old Brazilian has scored 19 goals in 153 games during 5 seasons at his present club Paris St. Germain. Marquinhos also featured for Brazil at the 2019 Copa America, where he won his first senior title for his national team.

Marquinhos in 2019
Marquinhos in 2019

#3 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, Netherlands)

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk is renowned for his ability in central defence. He has strength in the air, sureness in possession and a great sense of timing with tackles to break up rival attacks.

The 28-year-old, who is also adept at set-pieces, is an accomplished goalscorer too. He netted two knockout stage goals as Liverpool won their first Champions League title in 14 years.

Van Dijk displays amazing agility for his height, and aided by his pace and timing, is an indispensable part of the defence of Liverpool and Netherlands.

Virgil Van Dijk in 2019
Virgil Van Dijk in 2019

#2 Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England)

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold is a crucial part of the Liverpool setup. Attributes like an acute understanding of the game, range of passing skills, ability from set-pieces and a high work rate make Alexander-Arnold a key component of coach Jurgen Klopp's counter-attacking philosophy at the Anfield club.

The 21-year-old Englishman, who was a part of the English team which reached the 2018 World Cup semifinals, has scored one goal and provided 16 assists in 36 games for club and country during the first 10 months of the year.

Trent-Alexander Arnold in 2019
Trent-Alexander Arnold in 2019

#1 Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus, Netherlands)

Matthijs de Ligt
Matthijs de Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt's clean tackling, aerial prowess, strength and accurate passing ability have made him one of Europe's most acclaimed young defenders.

De Ligt's maturity belied his 20 years of age as he astutely led a youthful Ajax side from the qualifiers to the semifinals of the Champions League, ousting giants like Real Madrid and Juventus along the way.

Predominantly a central defender, De Ligt, with his assured interceptions, astute link-up play and versatility can be utilized in both a three-man as well as a four-man defensive formation.

The 20-year-old was snapped up by Juventus during the off-season for €75m. De Ligt is yet to score in 10 games for his new side, but has already become an integral part of coach Maurizio Sarri's possession-based style of play as the Bianconeri seek to spill their domestic dominance into the European arena.

Matthijs de Ligt in 2019
Matthijs de Ligt in 2019
Edited by Musab Abid

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