Kante, Lanzini, Azpilicueta: Who are the Premier League's shortest players?

  • Kobe Tong

Premier League ballers can come in all shapes and sizes.

From defensive colossuses to diminutive wingers and everything in between, it’s about your ability with the ball at your feet and not the way that you look that make you a success in England’s top-flight.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t make it any less interesting to see which players have made a name for themselves in the Premier League despite not necessarily gobbling up the most inches on a tape measure.

Short Premier League ballers

Besides, it’s particularly intriguing when it comes to positions like goalkeeper and centre-back where academies and managers actively look at a player’s height when making a decision about their potential.

So, bearing that in mind, we decided to look at the data to see how the shortest Premier League XI of the 2021/22 season would actually line up – would it be brilliant, terrible or somewhere in between?

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Let’s start easy: What was Tottenham’s old ground called?

Well, we’ve used the data over at worldfootball.net and corroborated it with Premier League statistics where possible to answer that exact question with the least lofty line-up of them all.

To qualify, players must have appeared at least once in the Premier League this season and must still be playing for one of the current 20 clubs.

Other than that, it was simply a case of picking the shortest player in each position within a 4-3-3 formation, opting for the footballer that we considered to be the best in the situation of a draw.

Soccer Football – Premier League – West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion – London Stadium, London, Britain – December 1, 2021 Brighton & Hove Albion’s Tariq Lamptey in action with West Ham United’s Arthur Masuaku and Declan Rice Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

The shortest XI in the Premier League

Got it? Right then, well, be sure to appreciate that big things can come in small packages by checking out the Premier League’s shortest XI down below:

GK: David Raya (Brentford)

Height: 6 foot and 0 inches (183cm)

Straight off the bat and we have the trickiest position of all with most top-level goalkeepers required to be at least six foot tall with Brentford’s Raya just about squeezing over the threshold.

The Bees shot-stopper isn’t held back by his height, though; collecting five clean sheets from his 16 Premier League outings with a stature two centimetres shorter than that of Jordan Pickford.

Soccer Football – Premier League – Aston Villa v Brentford – Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain – August 28, 2021 Brentford’s David Raya looks on Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

RB: Tariq Lamptey (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Height: 5 foot and 5 inches (164cm)

One of the smallest players in the entire line-up and one of the most talented, too. The umpteenth sensation to come out of Chelsea‘s academy, Lamptey is destined to be a future England international.

CB: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Height: 5 foot and 10 inches (178cm)

Another position in which height is absolutely critical, so it should come as no surprise that we’re having to lean on full-backs who play in the heart of defence for three-at-the-back systems.

And Azpilicueta fits that criteria hand in glove because his 178-centimetre height would typically fall comfortably below the aerial-dominance you’d want to see from your centre-half.

Soccer Football – Premier League – Chelsea v Brighton & Hove Albion – Stamford Bridge, London, Britain – December 29, 2021 Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

CB: Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United)

Height: 5 foot and 7 inches (170cm)

However, ‘Dave’ isn’t actually the smallest centre-back on our team sheet because Cresswell sneaks in for his previous appearances in back fives despite standing at the height of your typical winger.

LB: Hassane Kamara (Watford)

Height: 5 foot and 6 inches (168cm)

Full-backs come in all shapes and sizes. It just so happens that Watford’s winter signing, who currently boasts 11 Premier League outings, clocks in on the shorter side of the spectrum.

Soccer Football – Premier League – Burnley v Watford – Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain – February 5, 2022 Watford’s Hassane Kamara in action with Burnley’s James Tarkowski REUTERS/Craig Brough EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

CM: Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City)

Height: 5 foot and 6 inches (167cm)

While Mendy might not have set the world alight at the King Power Stadium, he’s one of the first names on our Premier League short XI despite not necessarily proving so lucky under Brendan Rodgers.

CM: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)

Height: 5 foot and 6 inches (168cm)

A top-class defensive midfielder can often pack mind-boggling amounts of energy and stamina into shorter frames and that couldn’t be truer of by far and away the best player in the XI.

Fresh from competing for the Ballon d’Or thanks to some outrageous Champions League performances, Kante will go down as one of the Premier League’s greatest, as well as shortest, ever players.

Soccer Football – Premier League – Burnley v Chelsea – Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain – March 5, 2022 Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante arrives at the stadium before the match REUTERS/Craig Brough EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

CM: Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United)

Height: 5 foot and 6 inches (167cm)

Few positions on the pitch lend themselves more to shorter players than the number 10 role with pint-sized ballers such as Juninho, Paul Scholes and Alexis Sanchez all occupying it with pure class.

And while Lanzini might not have reached the dizzying heights – pun intended – of those Premier League ballers, there’s no denying that he’s packed a punch behind the front-line for the Hammers.

RW: Aaron Lennon (Burnley)

Height: 5 foot and 5 inches (165cm)

A veteran of the English game, Lennon continues to be a thorn in the side of defences out wide for Sean Dyche’s side, packing plenty of pace into his diminutive frame even at 34 years old.

Soccer Football – Premier League – Brighton & Hove Albion v Burnley – The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain – February 19, 2022 Burnley’s Aaron Lennon celebrates scoring their third goal with Erik Pieters and Jay Rodriguez REUTERS/Tony Obrien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

ST: Daniel Podence (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Height: 5 foot and 5 inches (165cm)

Let’s face it, we were always going to need more of a ‘false nine’ than your typical out-and-out striker with Podence’s adventures in the number nine position not exactly designed to see him play as a target man.

LW: Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United)

Height: 5 foot and 4 inches (163cm)

The smallest player in the entire Premier League rather fittingly rounds off our XI. However, what Fraser might lack in height, he certain doesn’t lack in talent with his low centre of gravity no doubt coming in handy.

The 22-time Scotland international amassed a stellar seven goals and 14 assists for Bournemouth in the Premier League in 2018/19 and is starting to show his best form for Newcastle again.

Soccer Football – Premier League – Newcastle United v Brighton & Hove Albion – St James’ Park, Newcastle, Britain – March 5, 2022 Newcastle United’s Ryan Fraser in action with Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pascal Gross Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

No shortage of quality

Pretty decent, right?

While the players in our Premier League XI might be short within the context of the competition, they’re certainly not short of the talent, ability and quality that allows them to compete at the highest level of sport.

That being said, with all due respect in the world, you’ll forgive us for thinking that they might have one or two problems from set pieces…

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