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Virgil van Dijk scores a brace for Liverpool against Watford

Pass Masters: The five Premier League players with the most passes in 2018/2019

The 2018/19 Premier League season has reached its conclusion, with Manchester City becoming the first side since Manchester United in 2009 to retain the title.

The campaign wasn’t quite so successful for Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield, who will all be playing their football in the second tier next season.

With the league season finished, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the best stats of the campaign, starting with the top-flights pass masters.

Here are the five players with the most Premier League passes in 2018/19…

Antonio Rüdiger, Chelsea – 2537 passes

The towering centre-back established himself as new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s first-choice defender, cementing his position in the starting XI.

The 26-year-old started just 25 times under Antonio Conte last season, but was a fixture under Sarri as the former Napoli boss attempted to implement his ‘Sarri-ball’ style at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea began the season brightly with talk of title contention before fading away, with Sarri coming under increasing pressure as fans voiced their displeasure at his methods.

Their big German defender racked up a huge 2537 passes during the season as Sarri’s possession-based tactics took hold in West London, the fifth most of any player in the Premier League.

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David Luiz, Chelsea – 2620 passes

One place higher in the list than Rudiger is Chelsea central defensive partner David Luiz.

The talented yet erratic Brazilian has long developed a reputation as being comfortable on the ball, with Sarri recognising these talents by restoring him to regular football after a frustrating campaign on the sidelines in 2017/18.

The 32-year-old was a virtual ever-present, featuring 36 times in the Premier League and making 2620 passes.

Such was the shaggy-haired defenders form, he looks set to be rewarded with a contract extension to keep him at Stamford Bridge beyond this summer.

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Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City – 2998 passes

For those who sneer at talk of ‘ball-playing defenders’, it is a nod to the ways of the modern game that the majority of players featuring on this list are centre-backs.

Few managers demand as much confidence in possession as Pep Guardiola, which makes Frenchman Aymeric Laporte the ideal defender for Premier League champions Manchester City.

The £57 million man is City’s first-choice defensive option, ahead of the likes of Vincent Kompany and John Stones and found his teammates 2998 times in the club’s triumphant defence of their Premier League title.

Offering balance with a sweet left-foot, he bizarrely continues to be overlooked by Didier Deschamps for the French national team.

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Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool – 3037 passes

One of just two players to make over 3000 passes is Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk.

The PFA Player of the Year enjoyed a superb season for Jurgen Klopp’s runners-up, helping transform them into the league’s tightest defence.

For all his defensive attributes, the Dutchman is a composed figure on the ball and has a surprising range of passing.

The 27-year-old made 3037 passes throughout the campaign, even managing to notch two assists as Liverpool fell agonisingly short in their bid to win the title.

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Jorginho, Chelsea – 3118 passes

The third Chelsea player in the list and perhaps the man most synonymous with the ‘Sarri-ball’ style.

Having followed Sarri from Napoli to Stamford Bridge, the Italian was immediately placed as the side’s deep-lying playmaker and given instruction to make the team tick.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the £57m man, with sections of the Chelsea support having voiced their displeasure at Sarri’s methods with Jorginho a key target for critics.

Nevertheless, the midfielder has never hidden, making more passes in the Premier League than any other player.

Sarri said the rest of Chelsea’s side need time to understand his methods, at which point we’ll see Jorginho truly shine. Whether the 60-year-old manager is given that time remains to be seen.

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