Central to the Defence, and the Attack too — Challenging the dated taxonomy of Football’s Central Defender.

Fact or Fiction?

Whereas large swathes of both football punditry, and at times journalism as well continue to purport cliched stereotypes. The rough and rugged, “safety first” Central Defender, is more than anything nowadays a dated footballing taxonomy of position.

Data from @WillTGM’s Opta report the past seven and a half seasons, displaying how the average Premier League centre back has been increasingly involved in their team’s possession phase.

What’s fueling the current Centre-Back shift?

Having central defenders who are heavily involved in, or even chosen with primarily attacking functions in mind is (much like a lot of football) not a new trend. Perhaps, as is usually the case, it is just something that seems that way as it was forgotten/ignored for so long.

A visual breakdown of the tactical concepts the then Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio discussed on national TV back in 2016.

The “Pep Effect”

To relate back to the initial Premier League shift, arguably one of the foremost exemples of Bielsa and Osorio’s musings in action would come from Aymeric Laporte. A player given his first team debut by “El Loco”, and who has unsurprisingly continued to flourish under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

A “PlayStation Player”, or simply misunderstood-misused?

It would of course be a false dichotomy to advance that David Luiz’s ability as a defender is defined by either or any extreme(s).

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Daniel Fraiz-Martinez

Daniel Fraiz-Martinez

“I’ve finally accepted myself for who I am: a beggar for good football. I go about the world, hand’s outstretched… & when it happens, I give thanks for it!”