Lewis Dunk: The Brighton Defender Who Can Be Liverpool's Cannavaro

Strong, stylish and swift, Lewis Dunk has been a revelation for Brighton's defence which is why Liverpool and a host of others have been linked. Here's everything you need to know about the boy who models himself on Fabio Cannavaro.
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Strong, stylish and swift, Lewis Dunk has been a revelation for Brighton's defence which is why Liverpool and a host of others have been linked. Here's everything you need to know about the boy who models himself on Fabio Cannavaro.

Strong, stylish and swift, Lewis Dunk has been a revelation for Brighton's defence which is why Liverpool and a host of others have been linked. Here's everything you need to know about the boy who models himself on Fabio Cannavaro.

Amid an upsurge in recent fortunes at his home-town club, Brighton defender Lewis Dunk has emerged as the brightest light in a beaming line-up at the new AMEX stadium. The 19-year-old has put in a series of glittering displays at centre half so far this term, and his potential has not gone unnoticed.

Age: 19

Position: Centre back

Height: 6ft 4ins

Weight: 13st 11lbs

Background info:

The son of a locally-renowned non-league player who failed to make the grade alongside Mick Channon and Kevin Keegan at Southampton in the early '80s, Lewis was captain of Brighton's all-conquering youth team last term and has taken to Championship football like a Dunk to water. A boyhood Chelsea fan who models his game on that of John Terry and sights Fabio Cannavaro as an inspiration, Dunk has played fewer than 50 senior games, but performs as if he's been at this level for a decade or more.

Many young players who are blessed with height tend to have ignored the need to work on their spring. This is not the case with Dunk, who turns his 6ft into 7ft.

Speed:

While he does not have a notable turn of pace, like a Ferdinand or a Distin, he is certainly no slouch. He is quick on the turn and is seldom exposed or exploited in behind. 7/10

Strength:

At 6ft 4ins, he is a towering presence but hardly a beanpole, plus he will inevitably bulk up as he develops into a fully grown man. He shows determination when in a physical tussle and while some muscle-bound forwards may see his skinnier frame as a weakness, Dunk gives as good as he gets. 7/10

Heading:

What's great is that while he is tall, he still has a great leap on top of his height. Many young players who are blessed with height tend to have ignored the need to work on their spring. This is not the case with Dunk, who turns his 6ft into 7ft and more when jumping to meet the ball. He is responsible and dominant when defending set pieces and seems to have an innate ability to time his jumps perfectly for aerial challenges. Did miss a golden opportunity to score in a 0-0 draw with Hull, but the fact he evaded his marker and nodded narrowly wide proves he's a danger in the opposition's penalty area. 9/10

He demonstrates a staggering level of aptitude when it comes to understanding tactics and changes in formation – this is what Gus Poyet was most impressed with when he first introduced him to the first team fold.

Positioning:

Dunk's positional sense is all the more impressive given that Brighton's style of play requires him to be an option for passes all the time his team are in possession. Brighton's build from the back and keep the ball routine puts huge demand on Dunk to carry the ball out of defence and join in attacks. In this kind of modern system, I've seen other young centre halves get lost because they become overcommitted to the attack. However, Dunk instinctively knows when and when not to commit, ensuring he finds a balance between being an option to his team, but not compromising his main priority, which is to prevent goals. When his team are on the back foot, he often finds himself having to cover for his attack-minded full back, which he manages well enough, while listening to the guidance of his skipper and partner in crime, Gordon Greer, when required. 8/10

Tackling:

His smart reading of the game allows him a valuable extra split-second to time his challenges well. He is exceptional when coming forward to meet a player head on, and also when coping with a striker who has his back to goal. That said, he is less successful when trying to tackle a striker on the turn, or when tracking his man after a quick one-two. Late arrivals into these kinds of challenges have contributed to most of the six bookings he's already amassed this season. 7/10

Passing:

As with Puyol and Pique at Barcelona, Dunk sees as much, if not more, of the ball than his attacking team mates ahead of him. In the current system, it is his responsibility to pass out from the back, one he takes on with aplomb. Equally adept at short passes as he is longer pings, he has a touch of the John Terrys about his distribution, never affording himself the luxury of believing his job is done and always showing up for another pass. There was concern among local press and supporters that Gus Poyet didn't sign a distinguished centre back in the summer, but he knew what he was doing – Dunk is in the mould of a top class modern defender, and his style suits the Uruguayan gaffer's methods down to the ground. 9/10

Attitude:

A good trainer, Dunk grew up within a football environment and has a firm dedication to the game. Meanwhile he demonstrates a staggering level of aptitude when it comes to understanding tactics and changes in formation – this is what Gus Poyet was most impressed with when he first introduced him to the first team fold. His psychological strength belies his years – he's always committed to the cause and has been impressive in almost every big game Brighton have had so far this term, particularly excelling against the likes of Sunderland's Gyan and Sessignon in August's Carling Cup tie. On a negative note, Brighton have conceded a series of late goals this term, some of which have cost them vital points. Without pointing the finger at Dunk solely, his concentration at the death could be improved. 8/10

Valuation

He's English and he's young, which inflates his price straight away. He's also a tremendous physical specimen who doesn't seem to get fazed by the big occasion. Based on his attributes and progress, £3 million would be just about fair, but expect it to snowball as a bidding war erupts this January.

You can follow Benjamin Cove @bencove

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