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James Milner the second-best performing full-back in Europe - study

Meanwhile, Man City’s Kevin de Bruyne is the highest-rated attacking midfielder.

James Milner.
James Milner.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

Updated at 15.59

LIVERPOOL’S JAMES MILNER is the second-best performing full-back in Europe’s big five leagues since the start of the season, according to a study published by the CIES Football Observatory.

The England international, previously deployed in midfield, only moved to the position at the beginning of the season, following some unconvincing performances by Alberto Moreno at left-back.

The Football Observatory describe their research as “a powerful approach for the technical analysis of player performance”.

The study looks at the 10 best-performing players in each position, with separate lists devoted to non-international players, while only footballers who played at least 900 domestic league minutes are included.

Players are judged on a series of attributes – in terms of defence, recovery, distribution and chance creation are taken into account, while attackers are assessed on chance creation and shooting among other aspects of their game.

There are also sub-categories within these key performance indicators that are judged, including explosivity, risk taking, decision making, physical strength and positional awareness.

Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer tops the goalkeepers’ list, with Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea and Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel in the top 10.

Mats Hummels comes top of the centre-back charts, with Giorgio Chiellini and Cesar Azpilicueta also featuring among the best performers.

Juventus’ Alex Sandro comes top in terms of full-backs, while Tottenham’s Danny Rose and Man United star Antonio Valencia join Milner near the summit.

There are several Premier League representatives in the defensive midfielder list, including Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera of Man United, Jordan Henderson of Liverpool and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, though Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara is first.

The attacking midfielders’ category is similarly Premier League-heavy, with Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) top, while Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), David Silva (Man City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) also feature.

Finally, there are few surprises when it comes to forwards. Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-performing player (including when you take into account other positions), with Lionel Messi narrowly behind him in second.

Sergio Aguero (Man City) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man United) are the only two Premier League representatives to make the top 10 attackers.

In addition, Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso and Jonathan Viera of Las Palmas hold the distinction of being the joint-top performing non-international players in Europe’s big five leagues.

View the full lists here.

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