Virgil Van Dijk heads aerial ranking

January 18 – Liverpool skipper Virgil Van Dijk has been revealed as the most aerially dominant central defender in world football, according to the latest study by the CIES Football Observatory.

FC Bayern Munich’s summer signing Kim Min Jae, currently on international duty with South Korea as his side look to claim the AFC Asian Cup, narrowly misses out on the top spot.

The index is computed from the number of aerial duels won, in relation to the playing time and the frequency of aerial duels at employer team level, the percentage of aerial duels won and the sporting level of the matches played.

To be included in the study, each player had to have tallied at least 900 minutes in domestic league matches before the 16th of January 2024.

The move from defensive midfielder to center back seems to have paid off for Paris St-Germain’s Portuguese talent Danilo Pereira, as he secures the last position on the podium. Pereira elbows ahead of two other notable players plying their trade in the five major European leagues – England’s Jamaal Lascelles from Newcastle United and France’s Dan-Axel Zagadou playing at Stuttgart.

Liverpool prove to be particularly aerially dominant this term, standing as the only team to have two placements in the top 20 with Virgil Van Dijk (1) and Ibrahima Konate (15).

Argentina’s Bruno Duarte of Panatelikos claims the highest rank among players from outside the big-five European leagues. Meanwhile, Joaquim Henrique from Santos takes the top spot for centre backs beyond the European domain.

Tokyo FC’s Henrique Trevisan tops the ranking of centre backs from AFC leagues.

Cerro Porteño’s Paraguayan Lucas Quintana is the youngest player in the top 100 (19.0 years of age, 95th), ahead of Westerlo’s, on loan from Galatasaray, Turkish Emin Bayram (20.8 years, 21st) and Chornomorets’ Ukrainian Volodymyr Salyuk (21.6 years, 42nd).

By contrast, the three oldest centre backs in the top 100 are Sevilla’s Sergio Ramos (37.8 years, seventh), Racing Santander’s Germán Sánchez (37.1 years, 63rd) and Deportivo Saprissa’s Kendall Waston (36.0 years, 64th).

To see the full ranking, click here.

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1709054653labto1709054653ofdlr1709054653owedi1709054653sni@g1709054653niwe.1709054653yrrah1709054653