The second player in our series of season-ending player appraisals is Victor Lindelof. David de Gea was our first, so now is the time to move to the Sweden international, who once again had a season of differing periods. He sometimes barely played, but then when Raphael Varane or Lisandro Martinez (or both, for that matter) got injured, Lindelof was there to slot in. Erik Ten Hag had to use him regularly often, especially in the latter stages of the campaign, especially considering Harry Maguire was not seen as someone good enough to be ahead of the Swede in the pecking order.
Lindelof made a total of 35 appearances in all competitions, which amounted to 2,511 minutes spent on the pitch. The centre-back made 20 appearances in the Premier League, seven in the Europa League, and four in each of the two domestic cups. That he did not score or make an assist throughout the campaign is no surprise. In his 20 Premier League appearances, Lindelof played for more than 45 minutes in 15 of them. In those 15 matches he was on the pitch for than half of it, United conceded 17 goals – six of which came in a single game against Manchester City. Exclude it and United have conceded 11 in 14 matches in which Lindelof was on the pitch for majority of the time. Sure, he did miss some big games, such as the 0-7 against Liverpool or 2-3 against Arsenal, but he usually had a decent output when on the pitch.
Looking at his individual statistics, the well-known FBREF are saying his stats are making him the player which most resembles the likes of Villarreal’s Raul Albiol or Atletico Madrid’s Stefan Savic. What strikes right away is that there are not many things where Lindelof is among the best in the league. In fact, he is only among the leading players in terms of passes attempted per 90 minutes and pass completion rate, the latter of which puts him in the 98th percentile. Strictly defensively, Lindelof has always had a cleaner style of play, which results in less number of tackles, interceptions, blocks and clearances than more than half of other Premier League centre-backs. But with Ten Hag’s system, it could be a bigger problem that he is not making many progressive carries or passes per 90 minutes, as he is in the 48th and 58th percentile respectively, among Premier League centre-backs last season.
So there, as always, remains the question what should Man United do about him. Simply put, probably nothing. Man United will be looking to make many new signings this summer and one of them is expected to be in his position. With Harry Maguire set to leave, at least according to Man United’s wishes, it seems that Lindelof will have a similar role next season – he will play mostly when main centre-backs need rest or are injured. The seasons are getting ever longer, so there should be enough opportunities for Lindelof to feature, but he should not expect to often get a long string of matches, like he did in final months of the recently finished campaign.