10 Most Proficient Tacklers in Europe This Season
Who are the best, most proficient tacklers across Europe's top five leagues this season?
We delve into the statistics now that one third of the football season is in the books, measuring tackles per game with the help of our friends over at WhoScored.com.
Take a look inside and see who's been racking them up so far this season. They're ordered by tackles per game, and in the event of a tie, they're then sorted by interceptions per game.
10. Gabi, Atletico Madrid
Gabi is a lynch-pin in Diego Simeone's tough-tackling Atletico Madrid midfield, and his presence alone can scare opponents into surrendering possession of the ball.
His average of 4.4 tackles per game over 14 starts is outstanding, and he anchors a free-flowing system that has little in terms of shape when pushing forward.
His presence and influence cannot be overstated.
9. Valon Behrami, Napoli
Valon Behrami is emerging as an incredibly useful outlet in midfield for Napoli, and it's strange to think he failed so dramatically in the Premier League with West Ham United.
He and Gokhan Inler are a reliable Swiss pair, creating turnovers and crunching into tackles; Rafa Benitez will always rely on a bit of midfield steel to steady the ship, and Behrami has come on leaps and bounds over the past two years.
8. Filipe Luis, Atletico Madrid
Filipe Luis is putting up a stellar season, and if it weren't for the presence of Marcelo, he'd be waltzing into a first-team spot for Brazil every time they get together.
He's certainly emerged as one of the most complete full-backs in world football, and as the regular order slip into the latter years of their careers, Filipe will become a hot commodity.
His average of 4.5 tackles per game is astonishing when you consider how Atletico Madrid tend to dominate games offensively.
7. Luca Antei, Sassuolo
Luca Antei's statistics are indicative of a man under constant pressure in games.
Sassuolo, despite their mini-renaissance, appear to be the worst team in Serie A man-for-man, and Antei has a huge share of defending to do every week without fail.
His eye-popping numbers—4.5 tackles and 4.3 interceptions per game—are a product of the huge amount of defensive work the line is subjected to, but boy is he getting through it; tack off the club's 7-0 loss to Internazionale and their defensive record is parallel to the rest of the league.
6. Marco Parolo, Parma
Marco Parolo is perhaps the most impressive of our 10 tacklers listed here as he's accumulated his impressive statistics over the course of the most games.
After 15 starts he's racked up 4.6 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, forming a big part of Parma's stout defensive stubbornness that currently has them laying 10th in Serie A.
Remarkably, he's also chipped in with six goals and two assists. An all-round midfield option.
5. Allan, Udinese
Allan is a defensive machine and represents one of the finest midfield prospects in Europe.
His attacking instincts are lacking and his composure in the forward areas leaves a lot to be desired, but in the defensive third he's been superb, averaging 4.8 tackles per game.
After selling and loaning out their best talents, the Zebrette will be simply looking to avoid relegation from Serie A, and Allan is a key component in their fight.
4. Lucas Leiva, Liverpool
Lucas Leiva has been sticking his foot in fairly often this season, totaling up 4.8 tackles and 2.8 interceptions in the Premier League so far.
What the Brazilian now needs to work on is making those defensive contributions when it truly counts—for example, when Liverpool's central midfield is wide open—and he can struggle, at times, with physically overpowering midfielder runners.
Still, impressive statistical season for Lucas so far.
3. Victor Sanchez, Espanyol
Victor Sanchez is a tough tackler, but his style and method comes at a questionable price.
His 5.1 tackles per game is no doubt an impressive statistic, but flip the coin and he's already accumulated four yellow cards and two reds.
Both dismissals have been in games which Espanyol have lost, and his recklessness is starting to cost them.
2. Giandomenico Mesto, Napoli
Giandomenico Mesto's season ends at eight Serie A games after the misfortune of tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in November.
Until then the 31-year-old had been prolific, racking up 5.1 tackles per game from right-back after rotating in and out with Christian Maggio.
The Partenopei have undergone an identity change under Rafa Benitez, and in ditching the 3-5-2 formation, had come to rely on a steadier defensive outlook.
Hopefully Mesto heals in full.
1. Javi Lopez, Espanyol
Espanyol started the season in fine, unbeaten form, but have struggled recently and sustained four losses over their last six fixtures.
As a result the team have come under some serious pressure, and Javi Lopez—the team's star right-back—has been forced into action on a number of occasions.
His 5.1 tackles and three interceptions per game lead Europe for defensive contributions at the time of writing.