How Leeds' Luke Ayling compares to Chelsea's N'Golo Kante

Leeds defender Luke Ayling

If the latest international break has taught us anything, it is that England are spoilt for choice when it comes to right-backs.

Gareth Southgate picked three for England’s triple-header against San Marino, Albania and Poland. Even then, there were still some notable absentees who could have covered that position.

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold missed out, as did Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka. And then there was Luke Ayling.

Playing in his first season in the Premier League at the age of 29, Ayling, who is valued at £4.5m by Transfermarkt, has been an ever-present in Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds team.

He has started each of the side’s 29 league matches this term, and been a consistent performer.

Yet there was little clamour from England supporters for him to be in Southgate’s recent squad. GIVEMESPORT’s Sam Brookes takes a look at why Ayling deserves more credit…

The stat that is comparable to Kante

When Leicester upset the odds to win the Premier League in 2015/16, N’Golo Kante seemed to be everywhere in the midfield. At the slightest sense of danger, he was there to mop up in front of the back four.

He has continued to do this in the years since, earning himself another league title with Chelsea and a World Cup winners’ medal with France.

However, Ayling has outdone Kante this season in one facet of the game – tackling.

As per WhoScored, Ayling has completed 77 tackles in the Premier League this year – no other Leeds player has made more than 59.

Kante has struggled to keep up as well. The diminutive midfielder has made 71 successful tackles, leaving him trailing in Ayling’s wake.

Admittedly, Kante has made four less appearances and eight less starts in the Premier League.

But the fact Ayling’s competing with the Chelsea star in arguably the strongest part of his game is enough evidence of how effective he’s been. 

What is Ayling like with the ball at his feet?

The modern-day full-back needs to be just as good going forwards as they are when carrying out their defensive duties. 

Is Ayling just a throwback hard-tackling defender? Absolutely not.

His dribbling is also a standout feature of his game. He has completed 36 successful dribbles in the league in 2020/21 – only Raphinha (42) has completed more for Leeds. 

Raphinha has also had 34 unsuccessful dribbles, though, whilst Ayling has only failed to complete dribbles on 12 occasions. When he opts to dribble from deep, he gets it right more often than not.

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Who is this former Leeds player?

Could Ayling make the Euros squad?

Realistically, his chances are slim. He would have to leapfrog a number of players in the pecking order over the coming weeks to make the final 23.

But Ayling has shown this season that he can defend well, and is happy to join in attacks whenever possible.

The England manager did also name-check Ayling when discussing his latest squad, suggesting that the Leeds man is still very much in his thoughts for now.

Ayling’s ability to play at centre-back, as shown on numerous occasions this season, could also help his chances of receiving a call-up. If Southgate returns to a back three at the Euros, Ayling could be a wise squad addition, essentially understudying Kyle Walker. 

He has developed into the complete defender, and if he keeps performing at this level, Southgate may not be able to ignore him for too much longer.

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