Comparing the 2017-18 PL stats of Manchester United’s centre-backs

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Manchester United have regularly been linked with a centre-back this summer as Jose Mourinho hopes to add to his defensive ranks ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld and Yerry Mina are rumoured targets, with reports suggesting Chris Smalling and/or Marcos Rojo could leave the club to make way for any arrivals.

We’ve taken a look back at the 2017-18 Premier League stats of United’s current crop of centre-backs – Smalling, Rojo, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof – to see who should fear for their place in Mourinho’s XI.


Looking at the overall figures, it should first be noted Smalling played the most football of the quintet with 29 appearances in the Premier League. Jones is next with 23, followed by Lindelof (17), Bailly (13) and finally Rojo (9).

Smalling also scored the most goals with four. Bailly was the only other central defender to score for United, notching his only goal for the club in a 4-0 win at Swansea in August. None of the five players registered an assist.

Despite playing less football than Smalling, Jones was involved in keeping the most clean sheets, with 15 from his 23 appearances. Smalling helped keep 12, followed by Bailly (eight), Lindelof (six) and Rojo (two).


Bailly is the most prolific tackler among the central defenders, averaging 1.5 successful tackles per 90 minutes. Smalling is not far behind with 1.4, and the England international has a better success rate, completing 77.7% of his attempted tackles compared to Bailly’s 68.2%.

Lindelof has the best success rate with 80%, completing 1.2 tackles per 90. Jones makes 1.1 at a slightly better success rate than Bailly (68.8%), while Rojo comes out last in both regards (one tackle per 90 at 50%).

While Lindelof recorded the best tackle success rate, his aerial success rate is the lowest at 45.5%. Jones is the leader in this regard, winning 72.2% of his aerial battles. There is little between Rojo (68.8%), Smalling (66.6%) and Bailly (65.2%).

Lindelof (0.9) and Rojo (1) are slightly left behind in terms of interceptions per 90 minutes, with Jones (1.9), Smalling (2.2) and Bailly (2.3) all registering double their figures.


Rojo is the obvious hothead among the five defenders, and the stats back up that assumption of the Argentina international.

Despite playing the fewest minutes, Rojo was booked six times, twice more than Smalling, who played the most. Jones and Bailly received two yellow cards, with Lindelof going into the referee’s book just once.

Rojo also gave away more fouls per 90 minutes than his peers (1.1). Jones was the cleanest with only 0.5. Bailly and Smalling both made 0.9 fouls per 90, with Lindelof on 0.7.

On the ball

Smalling’s ability on the ball has been questioned by Mourinho and Gareth Southgate in recent years but his 87.6% passing accuracy means he is in the middle of the pack among United’s ranks.

Jones is the best of the bunch with 91.2%, with Lindelof not far behind on 90.8%.

Bailly (86.2%) is only slightly inferior to Smalling, but Rojo is way back on 81.6%.

Jones and Lindelof recorded the most unsuccessful touches per 90 minutes (0.3), while Bailly was dispossessed the most (0.4 times per 90 minutes).

Rojo does at least complete 100% of his 0.6 attempted dribbles per 90 minutes, the highest figure among the group.

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