Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka names the “toughest” opponent he has faced

Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka names the “toughest” opponent he has faced

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has named Chelsea star Eden Hazard as his “toughest” opponent to date. 

Wan-Bissaka has undertaken a remarkable rise to the Crystal Palace first team this season, after making his debut midway through last term, and has established himself as one of the most solid and dynamic full-backs in the Premier League.

Can Wan-Bisakka become the best right-back in England? Five key things to know…

  1. Wan-Bissaka made his first-team debut for Palace in February 2018 against Tottenham.
  2. The England Under-21 international was trying to push through a loan move prior to that, but was denied by Roy Hodgson.
  3. Wan-Bissaka has now made 35 appearances for the Eagles and is their first choice right-back.
  4. The 21-year-old has made 96 tackles this season – no Premier League player has made more.
  5. Wan-Bissaka has revealed Hazard is the “toughest” opponent he’s faced so far.

No player in the Premier League has made more tackles (96) than the 21-year-old and a number of wingers have come unstuck against the England Under-21 international.

However, Wan-Bissaka has admitted he had a hard time dealing with Hazard, highlighting how “clever” the Belgian’s movement is.

“He [Hazard] was the toughest. He’s just busy,” he told the Guardian. “I’m not saying I can’t read him, but he does so much on the ball, and off it too.

“He doesn’t just get it and pass it on. He always does something: maybe not directly against me, but something that affects me somehow, dragging me out of position, freeing someone else up to run at me.

“He’s so clever, one of the best. At the same time, those are the situations you learn most from.”

Part of the reason Wan-Bissaka deals with wingers so well is the fact that he used to be one himself and the Croydon-born starlet has admitted training against the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie helped toughen him up as a converted defender.

“Training up against Wilf and Yannick Bolasie toughened me up,” he added. “As an ex-winger, you get a sense of what they’re trying to do: which way they might go, how they’re thinking.

“You can anticipate things easier. When Roy Hodgson changed my timetable to full-time with the first team, I knew I was making progress even if I still never played.”

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Hodgson admits he denied Wan-Bissaka a loan move

In what is now probably one of the best managerial decisions of his tenure at Crystal Palace, Hodgson has admitted Wan-Bissaka approached him last season to try and push through a loan move, but the former England boss denied his request.

Shortly after, the full-back got his first-team chance at Selhurst Park and has never looked back since.

“Last year Aaron came to me and asked to go on loan; I said no,” Hodgson told Sky Sports (via Goal) last week.

“Not long after that he made the first team due to injury and he’s never looked back. It shows I do make the odd good decision!”

Palace travel to Doncaster in the FA Cup fifth round in their next game.