The 450th issue of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post analyses the game intelligence data produced exclusively by our partners SkillCorner to reveal the one hundred midfielders with the best statistics in terms of ball retention under high pressure* in 28 leagues around the world. The best percentage in absolute terms was recorded for a player who is relatively unknown in Europe: Darlington Nagbe (93.4%) of Columbus Crew.
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Raffaele Poli
Roger Besson
Loïc Ravenel
Thomas Gonzalez

Four better-known midfielders rank behind Nagbe: Rodri Hernández of Manchester City (92.1%), Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona (91.8%), Toni Kroos of Real Madrid (also 91.8%), and Granit Xhaka of Bayer Leverkusen (91.6%). Many footballers from teams playing a possession-based game are among the top-ranked ones, showing that the individual ability to keep possession also depends on the solutions offered by teammates.

The three youngest players in the top 100 are Paris St-Germain's Warren Zaïre-Emery, Barcelona's Pablo Gavi and Hull City's Tyler Morton (on loan from Liverpool), followed by Gerard Yepes (Sampdoria) and Pablo Maia (São Paulo). The data refers to the current season or the last completed one for summer leagues. Only footballers who have played at least 1,000 domestic league minutes have been incldued in the rankings.

* A player is considered under pressure when he is in possession of the ball and at least one opponent player nearby him is trying to either recover the ball or limit his options. For each situation, SkillCorner determines the intensity of pressure by considering the speed of the players applying it, their distance to the player in possession and the angle of their movement. More information is available here.

% of ball retention under high pressure

Midfielders, at least 1000 domestic league minutes, current or last completed season, until 31/01/2024. Data: SkillCorner.