There is no doubt that the England squad is blessed with a plethora of attacking players as they head towards EURO 2021, however, over recent years a lack of defensive-minded midfielders has emerged. Many are sceptical of the impact made by either Dier or Winks and the much-anticipated newcomer Declan Rice has seen a dip in form at West Ham since he confirmed his allegiance to the Three Lions – although he has had a good spell since returning from the lockdown. Is it time to look elsewhere for an English CDM?
The graphic shows a graph comparing % of defensive duels won and defensive duels per 90 of all English players in the EPL and Championship (interceptions made per 90 are also indicated). These metrics are commonly used to evaluate performances of CDMs and hence they will be used here to indicate where Southgate should be looking for a new addition to his squad.
As seen in the graphic, neither of the current England regulars, Rice or Winks, stand out. Instead, the West Brom loan, Sam Field catches the eye – completing one of the most defensive duels per 90 and the most % of these duels won. Furthermore, Field also exhibits the second most interceptions per 90. Another English CDM of interest is Kalvin Phillips. Phillips was one of the most influential players in Leeds promotion side this season and his superb season is reflected in the metrics shown in this graphic – definitely one that Southgate should have his eye on. Two other players that are within the top 30% of English CDM defensive duels are O’Brien of Huddersfield and Batty of Hull City.
Whilst PL CDMs disappoint here, there is a lot of potential found in the Championship. Both the CDMs with the most potential, Phillips and Field, are both currently signed to the two promoted Championship sides. Hence, next season they have the opportunity to impress in the Premier League and if so, Southgate will not be able to hide behind his ambivalence to call up Championship players. Furthermore, both these two high performers are below the age of 25 and hence are yet to hit their peak and should see even further development. Maybe we will see these two new faces in the EURO 2021 squad and hopefully they will provide the defensive strength to lead England to glory.