Luke Ayling has impressively beaten Barcelona legend Lionel Messi and others to sit atop a statistics list of players from UEFA’s top five divisions.
In a table created by FBref.com (via Playmaker Stats), the former Bristol City man ranks above Messi, Frenkie de Jong, Rodrigo De Paul, Adam Webster and Pau Torres.
For what? Well, according to the chart, Ayling is better than anyone in Europe’s top leagues at carrying the ball forward.
Best progressive carrying distance (yards bringing the ball forward; #Uefa‘s top 5 leagues; 20/21):
— playmakerstats (@playmaker_EN) January 14, 2021
The Leeds No.2 has travelled 4517 yards while bringing the ball forward this season, in a statistic that has Marcelo Bielsa’s style written all over it.
Impressively, Ayling isn’t just leading the way by a tiny margin – oh no.
The next closest player to the 29-year-old is Villarreal’s Pau Torres, who is sat 105 yards behind the Leeds defender’s tally.
Interesting, De Paul is on this list, whose name may ring a bell for the Elland Road faithful.
Why? Well, the Argentine is believed to be a target for Leeds, according to The Sun.
Italian transfer specialist Fabrizio Romano recently told GiveMeSport that Victor Orta will have to pay €40 million (£36.05 million) if he wants the Udinese maestro at Elland Road.
Intriguingly, the fact that Bielsa is targeting De Paul could suggest that progressive ball carrying is a trait that he and Orta look for among potential targets.
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