Is Dejan Lovren the best center back in the EPL?
Now that we have that out of the way, a study from the CIES Football Observatory says that, according to their metrics, Lovren is the 12th-best center back in the world, and best in the Premier League.
The study, which measured the statistics of every big five (Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and La Liga) player looked at six different parts of the game: shooting, recovery, rigour, chance creation, distribution and take on. The players were ranked in five positions: forwards, attacking mids, defensive mids, center backs and fullbacks.
The study gave the top 12 in each position. Forwards were led by (surprise) Messi and Ronaldo. The best attacking mids were James Rodriguez and Eden Hazard. The best defensive mids were Cesc Fabregas and Marco Verratti. For fullbacks, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba were the best, and for center backs, Thiago Silva and Jerome Boateng were the best. Here is a snapshot of the results (absolute and relative) by position:
This study is obviously flawed. Even accounting for the inclusion of Lovren, who is either the third or fourth best center back on Liverpool (depending on how you feel about Kolo Toure), any study that says Paul Pogba is the 11th best defensive midfielder in the world is clearly not perfect. But it should spark a couple of interesting debates, like how much should statistics be relied upon versus the eye test? Also, the study gives a good starting point "best players in the world" arguments.
Contact The18 Staff Writer Sam Klomhaus at klomhaus@The18 or follow him on Twitter @SamKlomhaus