Possession is often referred to as nine-tenths of the law and football is certainly no different, so it certainly helps any side with aspirations of success to have a player capable of winning back the ball.
Following the conclusion of the 2019/20 Premier League season we’ve decided to revisit some of the best statistics from an unforgettable season, with this feature taking a look at five players who regularly brought an end to opposition attacks.
Here are the five Premier League players to win back possession most often in 2019/20:
Wilfred Ndidi – 271
The safeguard of the Leicester midfield ever since his arrival from Genk three years ago, Wilfred Ndidi has developed a reputation as one of the Premier League’s best spoilers in recent seasons.
Ndidi has topped the Premier League’s statistics for tackles in each of the past two seasons before finishing behind only Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka – by just one tackle – during the 2019/20 campaign, the Nigerian international also ranking amongst the division’s top five for possession won.
Still just 23-years-old, the tall and combative midfielder has attracted plenty of admirers since moving to English football and has continually been linked with the division’s bigger clubs, his £17m fee having proven a bargain for the Foxes who can lay claim to possessing one of the Premier League’s most effective defensive midfielders.
Oliver Norwood – 275
Oliver Norwood was finally handed his opportunity at the highest level with Sheffield United this season, the midfielder having won promotion from the Championship in three consecutive seasons before stepping up to the Premier League this term.
The decisions of Brighton and Fulham not to retain the services of the Northern Irishman has proven to be the Blades’ gain, Norwood thriving as the deep-lying playmaker of Chris Wilder’s impressive side.
The former Manchester United academy graduate is responsible for dictating the tempo in Sheffield United’s tactically innovative system, his fine passing range central to the success of the newly-promoted side this season.
Norwood has, however, also shown an appetite for the defensive side of the game when out of possession, winning the ball back on 275 occasions for the Blades during the 2019/20 season.
Ruben Neves – 303
Asked to pick out the key qualities in the game of Ruben Neves and you’ll likely first list his ability to control proceedings, the Portuguese international possessing a sublime passing range that sees him act as the midfield metronome of the Wolves side.
For all Neves’ technical qualities, however, the 23-year-old is no stranger to working hard for his teammates and has been a key figure during an energy-sapping season for Wolves, one which finally came to an end this week, more than a calendar year after it first began for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Neves – alongside compatriot Joao Moutinho – conducts the play for the Black Country outfit, but the midfielder is also vital to his side’s ability to regain possession, his tenacity in hunting down opposition players seeing him win possession 303 times last season – the third-highest figure in the division.
Declan Rice – 312
West Ham‘s season may have proven one of disappointment and underachievement, but Declan Rice continued to enhance his own reputation despite the abundance of mediocrity surrounding him at the London Stadium.
The England international was a model of consistency as the enforcer in the Hammers’ midfield, snapping into challenges and protecting the club’s backline with an assured presence.
Rice has been linked with a summer move to Chelsea – the club which released him as a teenager – and a potential switch to a centre-back role, a positional change which may restrict his ability to regain possession, Rice winning the ball back on 312 occasions for West Ham last season.
Excellent in the press and a fine interceptor, Rice’s prolific ability to win the ball is what makes the youngster so highly-rated for both club and country.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 325
The most prolific ball-winner in the Premier League last season was Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, the midfielder’s performances having persuaded Tottenham to make the Denmark international their first signing of the summer.
Hojbjerg has impressed during four seasons with Southampton his displays point to a sensible signing, the 25-year-old former Bayern Munich starlet set to bring work-rate and solidity to a new-look Spurs midfield.
— Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (@hojbjerg23) August 11, 2020
No player in the Premier League can average more ball recoveries per 90 minutes than Hojbjerg this season, whilst his statistics also rank favourably in comparison to his peers for tackles and interceptions per 90.
Mourinho will hope the summer signing can bring an added presence and steel to a midfield which has underwhelmed since his arrival in north London, Spurs in desperate need of a refresh following a disappointing campaign.