The Pillar of Kano: Nigerian Alhassan Yusuf the leading defensive midfielder in the Pro League

Antwerp’s 22 year-old defensive midfielder Alhassan Yusuf is a key cog in the Great Old’s midfield. The Nigerian, who joined in the summer of 2021 from IFK Göteborg in Sweden, is leading the league in defensive stats according to FBref. Yusuf has won the most tackles in the league with 34, while he is also second in the league when it comes to interceptions with 42.

While the tackles are impressive, the interceptions arguably highlight the strength’s of Yusuf’s game more. The rest of the top four in interceptions are all defenders, with only Senne Lynen being the other midfielder in the top 10. Despite his young age, Yusuf has shown this season his defensive acumen. His speed of thought alongside his physical speed gives him a great advantage over other midfielders, as he is able to cover plenty of ground to win the ball back for his side.

When watching Antwerp, it is easy to notice Yusuf as he is constantly winning the ball back for his side and breaking up the play of the opposition. The man from Kano is a defensive rock in the heart of the Antwerp midfield, and a key reason that the side have the second best defensive record in the league. If paired alongside more creative players, he can certainly be used to cover for defensive deficiencies of others and allow them to focus on creating chances, something he is not as well skilled in, despite his two assists so far this season.

Yusuf cost Antwerp a reported 1 million euros in 2021, but given his performances so far and his age, it will certainly require a lot more to prize him away from the Great Old.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

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