Speed is a key component of modern day football in every area of the pitch and it can be an unforgiving sport if a player is a few yards too slow. Strikers have a serious advantage if they can sprint past their markers onto through balls, while defenders need to have a decent turn of pace if they want to keep up.
Of course, speed over a distance is but one component of a player’s arsenal and they must combine it with strength, fitness, game intelligence and skill on the ball. Nevertheless, a strong sprinter has a solid base from which to build.
So, who are the fastest players in the Premier League? GOAL takes a look at the top speedsters in the division as well as how they compare to other athletes.
Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez clocked the fastest top speed in the 2022-23 Premier League season, hitting a high of 36.5 kilometres per hour in the Reds’ August 2022 fixture against Fulham.
Nunez is head and shoulders above the rest, with Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli and Manchester United full-back Diogo Dalot following with top speeds of 35.9 km/h and 35.8 km/h respectively.
Newcastle United winger Allan Saint-Maximin hit a top speed of 35.7 km/h and Bournemouth’s Jack Stacey had a top sprint speed of 35.6 km/h.
Manchester City attacker Erling Haaland has not featured in the top speeds for 2022-23 just yet, which may come as something of a surprise to observers who have been impressed by the striker’s sprinting.
Nunez’s top speed in the 2022-23 season is comparable to the top speed from 2021-22, which was set at 36.7 km/h by Antonio Rudiger, who was then playing for Chelsea. In the same campaign, Mohamed Salah‘s fastest speed was 36.6 km/h, while Adama Traore also hit the 36.6 km/h mark.
Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is often considered the fastest player in the Premier League after he hit a top speed of 37.8 km/h in the 2019-20 season, though the England international may have lost a few yards in the intervening years.
As athletes, footballers are required to sprint at high speeds over short distances, so how do they measure up against the fastest athletes on the planet? Well, not too badly, actually.
Eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt is the fastest man ever to have lived, setting the record for the 100m sprint at 9.58 seconds in 2009. He also holds the second (9.63 secs) and third (9.69 secs) fastest times. Bolt, who is now retired, hit a fastest recorded top speed of 44.72 km/h, which is significantly faster than the top speed of modern footballers.
Marcell Jacobs, who won gold in the 2020 Olympics 100 metre sprint, has hit a top speed of 43.06 km/h, while Fred Kerley, who won silver at the same event, has clocked a speed of 42.8 km/h.
Interestingly, the fastest Premier League footballers tend to be faster than the fastest American footballers in NFL. For example, Devin Duvernay of the Ravens was the fastest NFL player in 2022 with a top speed of 34.7 km/h, which is 1.8 km slower than Nunez’s high speed in 2022.
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