Last week, Noa Bachner wrote that, when it comes to the Swedish national team, the second hottest issue in his mailbag is Victor Nilsson Lindelöf. Many Swedes, it seems, don’t think the Manchester United defender lives up to the hype.
Knowing Swedes as I do (having lived here 11 years) I have come to see that this sentiment is an inevitable part of their national characteristic. The €35 million that took him to Manchester United marks him out as someone who might be getting too big for his boots. With the strange exception awarded to Zlatan (who always has first place in Noa’s inbox), Swedes don’t like it when someone is made out to be exceptional without a really exceptional explanation. And this, to many, is what has happened in Lindelöf’s case.
Noa argues, rather convincingly, that these Swedes are too hard on their star defender. But I decided to run the stats. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t look good for him. Here is his defending.
Over the last four internationals Lindelöf has more negative error points for mistakes made in and around the box defensively, than positive defence points. This means he ranks bottom for Sweden for defence.
Instead, it is Andreas Granqvist who leads by example and tops the Twelve league table.
Four matches aren’t enough to make a full statistical analysis of players, but Lindelöf’s performances at Manchester United (when he has got playing time) don’t look so great either. Here is a Twelve ranking of four defenders at United this season
Lindelöf is bottom on a per minute basis.
There is one glimmer of hope, though. It is his attacking contribution.
This could prove crucial to Sweden and, as Noa Bachner writes, “few things can change attitudes as quickly as a World Cup”. Let’s see if this works for Victor Lindelöf.