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Can Maluleka Take 'Yeye's' Role?

With the massively influential Reneilwe Letsholonyane fast approaching his 32nd birthday on 9 June, it could be that Kaizer Chiefs need to start thinking about who will one day take his reigns in the central midfield department.

While 'Yeye' still appears to have plenty to offer based on last season's performances, finding the box-to-box midfielder's eventual replacement is something Chiefs' management will undoubtedly be planning for.

There was some evidence that George Maluleka, signed by the Glamour Boys last January, could be the man one day earmarked to fill his boots. We examined our exclusive Soccer Laduma stats, powered by Prozone, to see how the talented 25-year-old measures up to Letsholonyane. 

The box-to-box role is something that requires a player to be well-rounded defensively and offensively. He must be comfortable in possession, be an accurate passer, pull the strings from the centre of the park as well as influence the attack in the final third.This kind of midfielder must also have the ability to break up play with tackles and interceptions.

When it comes to getting on the ball and dictating the play, 'Yeye' leads the way with 60 passes made per game (Maluleka attempts 48 passes). Yet, it is Maluleka who has a higher completion rate of forward passes - he averages an 80% rating compared to 'Yeye's' 77%.

This is an encouraging number because it shows that Maluleka can get Chiefs moving forward in a positive fashion - a key indicator of a potential quality box-to-box player in the heart of midfield.

Yet, it is 'Yeye' who is more efficient at breaking up opposition attacks in all three thirds of the field - he averages 3.13 tackles per match, as well as 12 interceptions per game. His teammate makes just two tackles per clash as well as nine interceptions per encounter.   

This means that the Chiefs veteran is the busier of the two in the middle of the park - a key characteristic when it comes to taking control of the midfield, both in and out of possession.

The seemingly 'ageless' 'Yeye' also continues to show a tireless workrate from back-to-front - he finds people in the final third with an accurate pass 12.69 times per game. He also plays it into the penalty area with success three times in every match.

This shows he's getting people into dangerous areas to make chances and score goals. In comparison, Maluleka trails just behind his Amakhosi teammate in these two categories. The Tembisa-born star manages 11 final third entries, as well as 2.83 penalty area entries.

In conclusion, what these numbers show is that Maluleka is very competitive with 'Yeye' in every key area when it comes to being an elite performer in the box-to-box role in the PSL.

It seems to suggest that when time comes for Letsholonyane to take more of a backseat in years to come, Maluleka is an extremely natural fit to take his role. With time on his side to progress while learning his trade from Amakhosi's much respected number six, 'Yeye's box-to-box role appears to be in very good hands in future.

Have your say - can Maluleka one day take Letsholonyane's box-to-box role?      

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