Ben Davies has had a tough time of it in the last couple of months of the season. He started off bright but after a couple of mistakes has struggled to regain his form. He’s a player who could command a hefty fee this summer, should Rangers sell him? Football Scotland reported that Stoke City have serious interest in the centre back. Rangers paid £4m for him last summer and he still has three-years left on his contract. So, the question is, should Rangers sell Ben Davies?
There is no doubting the ability of the 27-year-old. He’s a solid defender who’s comfortable on the ball and a good passer. He has plenty of experience in the English Championship, a notoriously competitive league. So, what’s the issue? Even if we look at his SPFL numbers As they look great;
- 27 Appearances (25 Starts)
- 8 Clean Sheets
- 1 Assist
- 3 Big Chances Created
- 88% Pass Accuracy
- 57% Long Ball Accuracy (3.9 Per Game)
- 0.8 Interceptions Per Game
- 0.9 Tackles Per Game
- 67% Total Duels Won
- 71% Ground Duels Won (1.3 Per Game)
- 65% Aerial Duels Won (2.4 Per Game)
Those look like excellent numbers, on paper, don’t they? Unfortunately, football isn’t played on paper and that’s where some of the issues lie.
This is where some of of his problems recently have arisen from. He is a lovely footballer with a great left foot. His passing is always on point. He’s positive with the ball and always tries to break the lines. On the ball isn’t his issue, he excels there actually. His recent issues have stemmed from his mistake at Parkhead. The ball was up in the air and instead of committing strongly to the header and putting it out for a corner, he seemed to notice Jota and pull out. This led to the ball bouncing off of the Celtic winger and Kyogo scoring from that.
Then in his next appearance against St. Mirren, he was bullied by Curtis Main. In fairness, Main has done that to many SPFL centre backs but this performance accentuated his weakness. There was a 60/40 tackle in Davies’ favour out on the wing and instead of just winning the ball he tried to knick it away and this led to St. Mirren coming away with the ball, then winning a corner that led to their second goal.
Davies isn’t an intimidating defender. He doesn’t throw himself around against big strikers in a battle. He tries to be clever with tackles and headers, which is great if it comes off. The issue with this in the SPFL is that many teams have a big strong striker up front. The likes of Curtis Main, Kyle Vassell and Jordan White. He struggled against all of those opponents and, at times, it’s cost Rangers.
Comparison to John Souttar
It’s pretty much impossible not to compare someone to the player that replaced them. That is exactly what has happened with the Rangers support when Davies was replaced by John Souttar because of injury. Their ability on the ball is very similar. Both are great passers of the ball and always look to be positive with it. Davies probably has the edge on long passing but Souttar is more comfortable driving forward with the ball at his feet.
The main difference in the two is their defensive style. Souttar is everything that Davies isn’t in defence. The Scotland international loves the physical battles, is dominant in the air and doesn’t get bullied by opposition strikers. It’s really a huge contrast when you watch them both in game, Souttar’s power and willingness to put his body on the line massively benefits the team.
Souttar has performed excellently to end the season, leading to the question, should Rangers sell Ben Davies? The main reason this is being asked isn’t because he’s terrible, it’s actually because of his value.
What’s Next For Ben Davies?
Rangers are set to be in the midst of a huge summer rebuild. If they could get at least £4m back for Davies, that money could be used to improve the squad elsewhere. Also, Rangers have been linked to Auston Trusty, who apparently would only cost around £2m from Arsenal. Getting around £4m for Davies and spending £2m on Trusty, who’s three years his junior, would be smart business from the club.
There’s been a lot of criticism of Davies recently, more than he’s deserved. There’s a chance it’s probably gotten worse due the quality Souttar’s came in with. Both players have their strengths and weaknesses, it just happens to be that Davies’ weaknesses are some of Souttar’s strengths.
To that point, the reality is that Rangers need strong centre backs to play against the strikers of the SPFL. Having a player such as Ben Davies is fine when the centre backs aren’t involved in a physical battle. Then, as soon as they are, he becomes less effective and potentially, a defensive liability.
So, what are your thoughts on Ben Davies? Would you keep him or are you keen for Rangers to, at least, make their money back and invest it elsewhere?