Ronaldo not as good at heading as you may think - in fact he’s among the Premier League’s bottom ten

Stats reveal Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo to be the seventh worst in the top flight for percentage of aerial challenges won.

While GOAT discussions can run and run, when it comes to heading it is generally agreed that Cristiano Ronaldo is (literally) head and shoulders above Lionel Messi.

Lauded for his leap and ability to hang in the air, Ronaldo boasts an impressive showreel of headed goals.

However, it would appear, this season at least, that Ronaldo's aerial prowess has deserted him.

Cristiano Ronaldo loses out vs Southampt0n Feb22

For out of the 79 aerial battles the Manchester United striker has contested this season, he has only won 25 of them. Taking into account players who have made at least 50 aerial challenges this season, his 31.6% success rate marks him down as the Premier League's seventh-worst.

Ronaldo still has some way to go, however, to challenge for the accolade of the top-flight's worst in the air.

  • (Stats up to and including February 15, 2022)

Bee is not exactly flying

Ben Gibson Bryan Mbeumo 2021

Brentford's Bryan Mbeumo takes that honour. Of the 91 aerial challenges Mbeumo has been involved in this season, the French forward has won just 17 (18.7%).

Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki pushes him close, having won just 12 of his 61 challenges (19.7%), with team-mate Max Aarons (21.2% of challenges won), Richarlison (24.2%) and Neal Maupay (27.1%) completing the top five.

Of the players who failed to make the 50 challenge cut off, Sergi Canos and Christian Pulisic will want to avert their eyes (as they clearly do when the ball is launched towards them). The duo have each won just five of their 29 aerial battles, a figure of 17.2%

Mo Salah Romain Perraud Nov21

Mohamed Salah has come out on top in just five of his 32 (18.8%), while Daniel James has just nine successes from 47 (19.14%).

And as if to underline that the Liverpool attack prefer the ball to feet, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota were just below Ronaldo on our main list, having both won just 32.7% of their aerial battles.

Wood in the air the longest

Newcastle United's former Burnley striker Chris Wood is top of the pile when it comes to aerial battles won, with 137. However, he has lost 118, also the most in the division, to give him a success rate of 53.7%.

Brentford centre-back Ethan Pinnock is just behind on 117 aerial battles won but at a much healthier 66.5% success rate.

Burnley's James Tarkowski is third with 99 aerial wins and just sneaks into the leading ten thanks to an impressive 70.2 success rate.

All looks rosy for Webster

Adam Webster Brighton Nov21

Top of the pile for aerial success is Brighton's Adam Webster who just sneaks in thanks to his 52 mid-air challenges. Webster has won 41 to give him an 78.8% win rate.

Chelsea's in-demand Antonio Rudiger is next, having won 45 of his 59 challenges (76.3%), with Jamaal Lascelles third having won 75 from 99 (75.8).

And while Liverpool see very little aerial success from their front men, it is a different story at the back, with Virgil van Dijk (71.6% of challenges won) and Joel Matip (71%) coming in sixth and seventh when it comes to aerial prowess.

Two players who failed to qualify but are still worthy of mention are John Stones and Illan Meslier. Stones has made just 36 aerial challenges in 2021/22 but has won 32 of them for a success rate of 89%.

Leeds keeper Meslier, meanwhile, has made 15 aerial challenges - the most of any keeper - winning all but one.

Illan Meslier Leeds Feb22

Aerial battles won

  1. Chris Wood (Newcastle) 137
  2. Ethan Pinnock (Brentford) 117
  3. James Tarkowski (Burnley) 99
  4. Ivan Toney (Brentford) 99
  5. Tomas Soucek (West Ham) 90
  6. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) 78
  7. Joel Matip (Liverpool) 76
  8. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) 76
  9. Joshua King (Watford) 75
  10. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) 74

Aerial battles lost

  1. Chris Wood (Newcastle) 118
  2. Armand Broja (Southampton) 117
  3. Joshua King (Watford) 101
  4. Thomas Soucek (West Ham) 98
  5. Michail Antonio (West Ham) 89
  6. Ivan Toney (Brentford) 87
  7. Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford) 74
  8. Richarlison (Everton) 69
  9. Joelinton (Newcastle) 66
  10. Raul Jiminez (Wolves) 65

Aerial battle success - top 10

  1. Adam Webster (Brighton) 78.8% (W41 L11)
  2. Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea) 76.3% (W45 L14)
  3. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) 75.8% (W75 L24)
  4. Grant Hanley (Norwich) 75.3% (W58 L19)
  5. Raphael Varane (Man Utd) 72.7% (W40 L15)
  6. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) 71.6% (W78 L31)
  7. Joel Matip (Liverpool) 71% (W76 L31)
  8. Shane Duffy (Brighton) 70.8% (W51 L21)
  9. Thiago Silva (Chelsea) 70.7% (W41 L17)
  10. James Tarkowski (Burnley) 70.2% (W99 L42)

Aerial battle success - bottom 10

  1. Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford) 18.7% (W17 L74)
  2. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) 19.7% (W12 L49)
  3. Max Aarons (Norwich City) 21.2% (W11 L41)
  4. Richarlison (Everton) 24.2% (W22 L69)
  5. Neal Maupay (Brighton) 27.1% (W16 L43)
  6. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) 30.2% (W16 L37)
  7. Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd) 31.6% (W25 L54)
  8. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) 32.7% (W18 L37)
  9. Diogo Jota (Liverpool) 32.7% (W32 L66)
  10. Armando Broja (Southampton) 34.3% (W61 L117)

(50 aerial battles needed to qualify)

READ MORE: Who is the fastest player in the Premier League now Adama Traore has gone?

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