Ezri Konsa's versatility crucial for England's EURO 2024 campaign

England v Bosnia & Herzegovina - International Friendly
England v Bosnia & Herzegovina - International Friendly / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

As England gears up for the highly anticipated EURO 2024 tournament, a new hero emerges from the shadows of Aston Villa's defence. Ezri Konsa, the 26-year-old versatile defender, has caught the attention of fans and pundits alike, as he stands poised to fill the void left by the injured Harry Maguire in England's squad.

Gareth Southgate, England's manager, faces a critical decision in selecting his central defensive partnership for the tournament. While Marc Guehi has been widely tipped to partner with John Stones, Konsa's impressive performances for both club and country have made him a compelling choice.

In his three appearances for England, Konsa has showcased his adaptability, playing in various positions, including right-back, left-back, and midfield, demonstrating his value to the team.

Konsa's exceptional defensive abilities are reflected in his impressive statistics from the previous season. Among players in Europe's top five leagues, he boasted the highest percentage of dribblers tackled at 85.2%. Moreover, when considering players who engaged in a minimum of 20 ground duels across Europe's top seven leagues, Konsa emerged with the best ground duel success rate of 77.84%.

His aerial duel success rate of over 68% and his ability to draw fouls (64 times, more than any other Premier League defender) further highlight his effectiveness in relieving pressure and protecting his team.

Under the guidance of Aston Villa manager Unai Emery, Konsa has undergone significant development. Emery has pushed the defender to believe in himself more and has worked on improving his focus, concentration, and ambition. As a result, Konsa's consistency and leadership qualities have grown, making him a vital player for Villa, with 50 appearances across all competitions last season.

Ezri Konsa, Unai Emery
Emery and Konsa / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Coaches and teammates have praised Konsa's inherent anticipation, willingness to defend on the front foot, and ability to build play from deep areas. His recovery pace and confidence in operating within a high line make him well-suited to the demands of modern international football. Despite being overlooked for England in the past, Konsa has remained patient and has gradually gained recognition for his abilities.

Konsa's understated defending style, characterised by his inclination to step in front of opponents and intercept rather than making crunching tackles, may have contributed to his delayed recognition on the international stage.

However, his stats speak for themselves. He ranked in the top two percent of centre-backs from Europe's top five leagues for the fewest number of challenges lost in one-on-one situations and held the best tackle rate of any defender in Europe's top five leagues at the start of April.

As England prepares for EURO 2024 in Germany, Ezri Konsa's versatility, consistency, and defensive prowess make him a valuable asset for Gareth Southgate's team.

With his ability to adapt to different positions and his growing leadership qualities, Konsa could be the answer to England's defensive concerns in the absence of Harry Maguire.

The tournament provides a perfect opportunity for Konsa to showcase his skills on the international stage and cement his place in England's defensive lineup. As the team aims to improve upon their performance in the previous European Championship, Konsa's presence could be the key to a solid and reliable backline.

We will be eagerly watching to see if Gareth Southgate gives Ezri Konsa the nod to start alongside John Stones in England's opening game against Serbia on June 16.

With his impressive track record and the trust of his teammates and coaches, Konsa is more than ready to step up and make a significant impact for his country in the EURO 2024 campaign. The stage is set for Ezri Konsa to emerge as the unsung hero of England's quest for European glory.