Ryan Shawcross was the best centre-back in Europe in January.
That’s according to WhoScored.com, a stats website that monitors every match in the top five leagues and rates the players out of 10.
They average out a monthly rating and pick the highest rated players to make a team.
Shawcross received an 8.3/10 rating for January, the highest of any defender.
His partner in defence is Bournemouth’s Steve Cook, one of the five players from the Premier League in the team of the month.
Incredibly, the only players with a higher rating than the 30-year-old are Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
Stoke’s defence has been shaky this season, but Shawcross has been a stand-out performer.
In the eight games that he has missed this season, Stoke have conceded 25 goals and won only four points.
Whereas for the 18 games that he’s been available, Stoke have only let in 27 and earned 20 points.
Ben Weedall, a 23-year-old fan from Cheshire, thinks Shawcross has been the most important Stoke player this season.
“The difference in the defence with and without him is ridiculous.
“He’s made a few mistakes but we look so much stronger with him in the team.
“Ever since Paul Lambert’s taken over, he’s been the captain and leader that we’ve needed.
“The stats don’t show the whole story. He doesn’t just defend, he keeps us disciplined.
“I feel a lot more confident with him in the team.
“If Stoke want to avoid relegation, they will need Ryan Shawcross to stay fit.”