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Ronnie Edwards: League One’s Biggest Talent

Ronnie Edwards is a name that won’t be uncommon to Football Manager fans; the young 20-year-old is known for becoming one of England’s best defenders in the video game, and that could happen in real life. The Peterborough center-back has attracted interest from West Ham and Swansea City: both clubs have had bids rejected, and it is clear why ‘The Posh’ wants to keep hold off the prospect.

Player Profile – Ronnie Edwards

The Harlow-born center-back started his career at Barnet but departed for Peterborough United in August 2020 for an unknown fee. The six-foot-tall defender has already registered 114 appearances for ‘Posh’ scoring two goals and registering two assists; he has also made 22 appearances for England youth teams. In the 21/22 season, at just 18, Edwards started 31 games in the Championship for Peterborough, but they were relegated.

Since then, Ronnie Edwards has developed and is ready for Championship and maybe Premier League football. But what makes him so good?

Statistical Analysis

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Edwards applauds the fans after a game.

At the time of writing, Peterborough United has played 23 games so far this season, and Edwards has started every game, showing how integral he is to the side. They also have the highest average possession of any team in the division (60%) and are also third for goals conceded per match (one, only behind Derby and Portsmouth, both on 0.8). The Peterborough goalkeeper only has to make an average of two saves per game (the best in the league), so Peterborough’s defensive excellence is down to the outfielders, especially Edwards.

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Ronnie Edwards suits a possession-heavy style of play and the statistics back this up, he ranks in the 95th percentile for touches in League One (amongst center-backs) – meaning he is used to playing the ball out from the back and waiting for pressure. In addition, he ranks first in the league (compared to center-backs) for successful passes (1823), pass accuracy (91.8%), accurate long balls (162), and long ball accuracy (67.2%). These statistics would transition well to other possession-based teams (Leicester and Aston Villa), and he would also work well for teams that invite pressure onto them (Brighton).

Despite the possession-based system, Edwards also ranks amongst the best in the league for certain defensive actions. The young center-back is in the 86th percentile of the league for ball recoveries (117), as well as being in the top 20% for total tackles won (18) and interceptions (23). Other standout statistics include blocks, tackle won percentage (75), duels won (89), and he has only picked up one yellow card this season and no red cards.

Who Should Sign Him?

Ronnie Edwards has shown he can play in the Championship now and potentially the Premier League in the future, but which club should target his services?

Ronnie Edwards on the ball in the middle of a situational back three

Edwards has the correct profile to play in the most progressive and expansive systems (for example, Leicester and Manchester City). The managers who play these tactics usually use a situational back three. This means that a midfielder or full-back will join the center-backs to form a back three, this offers different passing angles and can be a better way to progress the ball while giving you defensive security. Playing in the middle of this back three highlights how comfortable on the ball Edwards is, this also shows that he is good on his right and left foot.

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Edwards stepping up into midfield while in possession against Cambridge United

Interestingly, Ronnie Edwards can step into the midfield while on the ball, either as the lone pivot or as part of a double pivot. In this case, Edwards drives forward with the ball and then plays a pass out to the right winger, breaking two defensive lines and playing a key part in the goal scored. This is very rare in modern football because it is the role of a libero – the most famous liberos are Franz Beckenbauer and now John Stones. This makes Edwards a unique player, with unique qualities.

Ronnie Edwards making a progressive run from centre-back

This may appear as nothing special however, actively deciding to make a progressive run while under pressure is very rare. Some may even blame Edwards for not dropping off to receive the ball off the left back, but this is a subtle sign of a very, intelligent footballer. If he was passed to, Peterborough could’ve created a false transition counter-attack (similar to De Zerbi’s Brighton side). Unfortunately, he wasn’t passed to, and Peterborough conceded.

Based on this evidence, I think Edwards would be a great player for any team that likes to dominate the ball or that encourages positional rotations. Kieran Mckenna’s Ipswich team, Enzo Maresca’s Leicester City, and Robert De Zerbi’s Brighton would all suit the profile of Ronnie Edwards. I believe that he is ready for the Championship now and could become a Premier League player in the future.

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