There are scores of world-class defensive midfielders playing in the European Big Five Leagues. Interestingly, the first player to make more than one hundred successive tackles across all competitions is from the English Premier League (EPL). Who is ball-winning machine?
This ball winner is João Palhinha who moves to the English top flight last summer. The former Portugal age-grade star has made one hundred and one successful tackles for Fulham this season. The 27-year-old Portuguese midfielder (who can also play as a centre-back) has made 24 appearances in the EPL this season showing his ball-winning side in almost all the games. In his debut game, Palhinha made 6 tackles against Liverpool and won 4 of them. He also blocked 2 passes in the clash to ensure that the Reds only managed a draw.
The former Sporting CP star had his highest tackling output in the English first tier when Cottagers hosted Manchester United on match day 16. The 2022 World Cup participant made nine successful tackles in the match but could not stop the the Red Devils from running away with a narrow 1-2 win. It is worthy of note that no player won as many tackles as the star (who is currently valued at €20m). He was also the top-tackler when the Lilywhites hosted Brighton in their first leg. With 8 tackles (50% of which were successful), João masterminded a 2-1 win over their visitors.
The closest man to the Portuguese midfielder in the European top five leagues is Frenchman, Benjamin André who has got 89 successful tackles for Lille in the French first tier. Others are Tom Krauß (84 tackles for Schalke 04), Bryan Cristante and Enzo Le Fée who have 83 tackles each for Roma (Serie A) and Lorient (Ligue 1). It should be noted that João Palhinha is the only man, among the top ball-winners, that is playing outside his homeland.
All images are sourced from Google.
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