Aston Villa: Ezri Konsa performances deserved England call-up, he's been better than Harry Maguire
Another international break is upon us, and once again Aston Villa man Ezri Konsa will not be involved with any squad despite a strong season.
Konsa is 25 years old and as yet uncapped by any nation, despite being eligible for all of England, Portugal and DR Congo and playing for the England Under-20 and Under-21 squads earlier in his career.
But while there have been plenty of options ahead of him in recent years to justify his omission from the team under Gareth Southgate, it’s now hard to argue that is still the case based on the stats of the Premier League season so far.
Th England boss named his most recent squad this past week (16 March) and included four natural centre-back options, with Villa duo Konsa and Tyrone Mings overlooked.
Instead, he opted to go for Manchester City star John Stones, who has established himself as the first-choice defender for the national team if he’s fit and available.
Alongside Stones, it was Tottenham’s Eric Dier, Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire who earned call-ups, but question marks remain as to why Southgate made these decisions.
Maguire has hardly played for his club this season, and while Southgate has made it clear in the past that he is one of his untouchables it sends out a completely wrong message. Meanwhile, Guehi is currently embroiled in a relegation battle with Palace and Dier has hardly shone in a poor Spurs side.
But when you take a deeper look at the numbers behind their performances this season as individuals, it’s even more baffling that Konsa hasn’t got a look in.
Stones is a sure-fire starter when fit, but the other three are seemingly battling it out to start alongside him. We compared their defensive numbers this season (via WhoScored) and Konsa comes out well.
He has made 27 Premier League appearances this season, the same amount as Guehi and more than Dier and Maguire, while only Guehi has played more minutes than him of the four.
Konsa concedes the least fouls per game of the four (0.3) compared to Maguire (0.9), Guehi (0.8) and Dier (0.7), while he also catches his opponents offside more often than all of his rivals for the position.
He’s also dribbled past the least of everyone, just 0.1 times per game compared to Maguire’s 0.1, Guehi’s 0.5 and Dier’s 0.3. And that’s just the stats he comes out on top in.
In fact, if you just do a direct comparison between Konsa and Maguire, it’s the Aston Villa man who comes out on top in eight of the ten metrics.
Konsa has more appearances (27-11), more minutes (2333-479), makes more tackles per game (1.1-0.5), makes more interceptions (0.7-0.6), makes fewer fouls, catches opponents offside more often, makes more clearances (3.1-2.3), is dribbled past less and has a higher rating (6.51-6.5). He also has a better aerial duel success rate per game (1.6-1.1).
The only places where Maguire pips him is blocks per game (0.6-0.9), while the final metric is level as neither has scored an own goal.
The easy argument is that Maguire plays in a more attacking team and thus defends less, but their statistics on the ball are all in Konsa’s favour too.
He averages more key passes per game (0.3-0.1), and more passes per game (48.3-34.1) and has a better pass success rate (87.6%-86.9%). Maguire pips him in the number of long passes played successfully, however (1.6-2.4).
But considering the way Southgate plays, Konsa fits in perfectly. He’s fast and athletic, good in the air and beats Maguire in all the important defensive metrics.
Add to that the fact that Maguire is somewhat of a yellow card magnet in comparison to Konsa too (4 in 27 – 3 in 11) and you have less of a liability on your hands.
You can argue that there are other options that should be ahead of Konsa, but there is no doubt that the Aston Villa defender is more deserving of a call-up than Harry Maguire is.
The stats prove it, and anyone with eyes can see it. Unless your name is Southgate, apparently.
In other Aston Villa news, Douglas Luiz has been transformed by Unai Emery since coming back into the team.