CIES’ latest study has attempted to rank the most impactful players on the planet under the age of 25, and they’ve made some interesting findings.
Predictably, Arsenal players are very well-represented within this study as the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Bukayo Saka are the highest-scoring players in their roles as goalkeeper and ‘shooter creator’.
However, perhaps the most interesting finding in this study is regarding a player Arsenal let go – Ismael Bennacer.
Indeed, Bennacer ranks as the second-best ‘Ground blocker filter man’ under the age of 25.
This particular role ranks players whose key attributes are based around ground defence (tackles, duels and challenges won) and recovery (interceptions and picking up loose balls).
The only other Arsenal player under the age of 25 who ranks in this role is William Saliba, and interestingly, Saliba ranks lower than Bennacer here.
Of course, stats don’t always tell the full story and there is a lot more to both players’ games than what is being ranked here, but it is interesting to see that Bennacer ranks higher than Saliba in their roles.
With Bennacer being a midfielder and Saliba being a defender, it’s hard to compare the two, but it’s also worth noting that they score similarly statistically in terms of actions performed on the pitch – hence being categorised as ‘Ground blocker filter men’.
One thing is for sure, Arsenal are probably regretting letting Bennacer go. They reportedly made a bid for him this summer to bring him back to the Emirates, while he’s also become a Serie A winner during his time over in Milan.
Arsenal have dropped a few clangers in terms of mishandling young players – Serge Gnabry is the most obvious example, but Bennacer may well be up there with the worst mistakes the Gunners have made.