Chris Rigg vs Leeds
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Chris Rigg: The 16-Year-Old Sunderland Sensation

Despite being just 16 years old, Chris Rigg has established himself as a regular for Sunderland in the Championship. The young attacking midfielder has played 20 games for the Black Cats, starting eight. This has led to several comparisons with Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, players who made their names at just 16.

In a poor season for Sunderland, finishing ten places lower than last season, Chris Rigg has been a glimmer of hope for the fans. His performances for the Northern side have attracted interest from multiple clubs throughout the country, including Manchester United.

But what makes him so special?

How Good Could Chris Rigg Be?

“He’s not a big, strong, physical, guy – he’s quite slight – but he has a wonderful left foot and he is an incredibly competitive animal. I’ve seen him for 20-30 minutes in an U21 game against Southampton, and his potential looks enormous to me.”

“He looks like a footballer who can play with the silkiness with his left foot, and play lovely passes, but he also looks like a tiger in that he wants to tackle everyone, and that’s not a bad mix for a midfielder.”

Former Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray on Chris Rigg

With him only making his first Championship start in March, against eventual winners Leicester City, there is no doubt he has time on his side. However, he is already showing signs that he could be a Premier League footballer in the near future.

Rigg is primarily an attacking midfielder but statistically, his most impressive data comes defensively. When compared to other players in the same position, he is the best player in the world for the percentage of dribblers tackled per 90, with 60%.

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Most would assume this means he doesn’t actively tackle and engage opponents, but he also ranks in the 96th percentile for dribbles tackled and tackles made in the middle third of the pitch. This sets Rigg apart from most other attacking midfielders, especially in the current era of football, where everyone is expected to press with high intensity after losing the ball.

The 16-year-old is also impressive when in possession, mainly with his shooting and expected goals. Rigg ranks in the 97th percentile for non-penalty expected goals per shot, with 0.16; this relates to how many shots it would take for you to score on average. In comparison, Phil Foden is in just the 54th percentile and Bruno Fernandes is in just the 16th percentile. His ball-striking really sets him apart from other footballers of the same age and position. Rigg has already netted three times for the Black Cats and this is clearly no coincidence.

It is not often a 16-year-old makes their name known in football, but when you can compete against top-level opposition at this age, the world is at your feet.

He is definitely a player to keep a look out for in the future, whether he stays at Sunderland, or makes the jump to the Premier League.

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