Higher than Lionel Messi: Celtic man David Turnbull is overpowering big names in key statistic

By Euan Davidson

April 14, 2021

Celtic midfielder David Turnbull is better than Lionel Messi and Thomas Müller.

A radical statement, sure. Maybe not a true one, either. However, he is dominating the Champions League winners in a vital area, according to WhoScored?.

A “key pass” is an important part of build-up play. Opta defines it as “the final pass or pass-cum-shot leading to the recipient of the ball having an attempt at goal without scoring.” So, it’s not quite an assist, but it’s pretty close: the killer ball, if you will. So, leading assist men like Müller and Messi would have plenty of these, you’d suspect, in league play this season.

They do. However, even in limited appearances, David Turnbull’s vision is leading the way. Turnbull has made a staggering 91 key passes.

As you can see, that’s more than some top names, including Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes. He’s third in the list, behind Xavier Mercier of OH Leuven (where Filip Benkovic plays), and Dusan Tadic of Ajax.

David Turnbull has bossed it for Celtic this season / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

David Turnbull is making an obvious impact for Celtic, even if he’s not Lionel Messi just yet

While he hasn’t had the debut season he might’ve wanted from a team perspective, Turnbull has been absolutely outstanding. Supporters clamoured to see him unleashed, and the Wishaw-born midfielder has repaid their faith. In league play, he’s scored 7 and assisted 5, while he’s also set up 1 and scored 1 in the Europa League.

The latter was in just one European match.

His impact on Celtic is enormous. Adaptable to the formation changes under John Kennedy, Turnbull is able to shoot from range, pick out a defence-splitting pass, and even contribute defensively.

Turnbull’s all-round skillset has made him absolutely undroppable. It’ll be interesting to see whether Celtic can hold on to him for the long-term. What we do know is that the former Motherwell man will have a huge role to play next season, as the Bhoys look to restore natural order at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

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