One of the most valuable player types in the NBA is the two-way player, one that can contribute at both ends of the court. While many NBA players can be so dominant offensively that their defensive weaknesses aren’t so glaring, the real stars of basketball are those that can do both. For many in today’s game that is the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, while current two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is perceived more of an offensive juggernaut, with his lack of athleticism often leading people to miss his defensive skillset.
When it comes to football, given the multitude of positions, the equivalent would most likely be wing-backs who can create but also are able to hold their own defensively. It appears that this season, OH Leuven have found themselves a valuable two-way player who mainly plays as a central defender. When you look down the leading assist makers in the Pro League this season, there is one not quite like the others. 21-year-old defender Louis Patris sticks out amongst the likes of Mike Tresor, Stef Peeters and Geofrey Hairemans. However, Patris, despite playing lots of this season as a central defender in a back three, is ahead of the more offensively minded Peeters and level with Hairemans.
With seven assists to his name this season, the Belgian U21 international leads his side in terms of creativity. Patris is versatile, he can play as part of a back three or can operate as a right-back. Coach Marc Brys has been happy to alternate between the two, and the ability of Patris to suit both roles means he can adapt his game plan depending on the opposition and midway through a fixture. The 21-year-old has taken to marauding down the right-hand side to get crosses in, usually finished off by top scorer Mario Gonzales.
At the other end, Patris is also contributing. According to FotMob data, the defender is third in successful tackles per 90 with 2.5. Top is Cameron Puertas with 2.7, however Patris has accumulated more minutes than the Union St. Gilloise midfielder, and his tackle success percentage is higher at 63.6% to the 52% of Puertas.
This has certainly been a breakout season for Patris, who only featured six times in the league for Byrs last season. So far, he has played in all 22 league games for the side this campaign, scoring twice. If he keeps up this level of performance, other clubs in Belgium and beyond will certainly be interested.