How Victor Lindelof compares statistically to Man Utd’s centre-backs
Manchester United have bolstered their defence with the signing of Victor Lindelof from Benfica.
Jose Mourinho had long been linked with a move for Lindelof, and the Sweden centre-half has become the club’s first signing of the summer in a deal worth up to £40million.
The 22-year-old will compete with Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo for a place in Mourinho’s starting XI, but how does he compare with United’s current crop of centre-backs?
Whereas attackers can be compared more easily by their goals and assists tally, comparing defenders using statistics is a bit more difficult as figures need to be taken in the context of how much a team spends in possession or on the back foot.
In terms of tackles, it is interesting to note Lindelof attempted fewer tackles than all of his Manchester United counterparts in the league last season.
That could suggest he is superior at reading the game, but his tackle success rate of 75% was bettered by Bailly (82.8%), Jones (90.5%) and Smalling (77.8%). Only Rojo had a worse record, completing 73.7% of the tackles he attempted.
Lindelof fares much better when it comes to interceptions, with only Bailly (2.4) averaging more than his 1.7 per game last season. Jones and Rojo both made 1.6 per game, while Smalling is way down with 0.7.
Jones and Smalling were the best disciplined of the group, conceding on average 0.5 and 0.4 fouls per game in 2016-17. Lindelof (one per game) ranks pretty similar to Rojo and Bailly (both 1.1).
Another cause for concern could be the Sweden international’s aerial duel success rate. Lindelof won 59.5% of his aerial battles in Liga Nos, with only Bailly (55.6%) having a worse average for United. Smalling (73%), Jones (70.3%) and Rojo (62.9%) all fared better than Lindelof.
In this situation:
Jones would jump into a tackle.
Smalling would kick it out for a throw.
Lindelof? Well watch.. pic.twitter.com/3a2cc2dvy6
— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) June 11, 2017
Obviously Lindelof is being signed by Manchester United due to his defensive ability, but modern football requires centre-backs to be comfortable in possession, and Lindelof shows up well with a passing accuracy of 89.9%, better than Jones (89.3%), Smalling (88.4%), Rojo (86%) and Bailly (85.5%).
Lindelof also scored one league goal for Benfica last term, with only Smalling and Rojo getting on the scoresheet for United.
Perhaps most significantly, however, is the simple statistic of appearances. Lindelof made 32 league appearances in 2016-17, whereas Smalling (18), Rojo (21), Jones (18) and Bailly (25) all struggled with injuries at different stages.
Mourinho will be hoping he can rely on Lindelof to stay fit so he can start to build a consistent defence at Old Trafford.