Scout Report: Aurélien Tchouaméni


Aurélien Tchouaméni (#8) made his debut for Bordeaux in the 18/19 Ligue 1 season making 10 appearances in total for the first team & went to make a further 15 appearances in 19/20. After starting the season at Bordeaux, Tchouaméni became a January signing for Monaco in an estimated £16.2m transfer. Since he arrived in 2020, the #8 has appeared 76 times in all competitions for Monaco at the heart of the midfield. His performances for Monaco have seen Tchouaméni rewarded with International recognition making his debut September 1st, 2021 for France. Subsequently, Tchouaméni has gone on to make 7 caps for Les Bleus becoming a regular feature within the squad for France manager Didier Deschamps.

Over the past 2 seasons, Tchouaméni has become a mainstay in Monaco’s starting 11 & a regular feature of the French International team, where he has drawn admirers from the English Premier League. As part of the Monaco team, Tchouaméni plays a deep lying role providing defensive coverage & assured confidence in possession. Monaco has a highly versatile squad able to facilitate multiple tactical approaches & formations with the ability to do so in game. Largely, Tchouaméni plays on the left side of a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3 or as the anchor point within a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1. Tactically Monaco are possession based favouring short sharp interchanges with progressive passing to probe the opposition in transition & adopt a patient build up developing out of defence. Out of possession, the team are quick to counter press the opposition in an attempt to force a turnover in possession through misplaced passes or interceptions. The positive defensive approach to engage quickly provides the likes of Tchouaméni the opportunity to tackle the opposition regularly. Whilst Monaco has struggled this season for consistency the #8 has performed to a high level in his role.

As per the heatmap (below), Tchouaméni provides a lateral screen for the defence marshalling the opposition by covering the central space. Although a defensive midfielder his role provides him with the freedom to support the attack from deep. This freedom utilises his intelligence off the ball to provide opportunities to position himself in the half spaces when receiving possession. Tchouaméni is perpetually moving within the central space which provides the attack a option from deep to recycle possession & continue to probe. Additionally, his movements in the central space provides Monaco the ability restart broken attacks collecting clearances or challenge for possession.

Heatmap via WyScout – Ligue 1 season 21/22

Defensive Contribution

Tchouaméni is a pivotal aspect of Monaco’s ability to stifle the opposition providing the foundation in midfield for the attack to press high in an attempt to retrieve possession quickly. His level of fitness is impressive, as per the heatmap it’s clear he is continually repositioning in the middle space effect play on & off the ball. The resulting lateral movements defensive ensures a robust screen in front of the defence who looks to engage the opposition regularly & decisively. This is evident in his desire to commit to a tackle in an attempt to regain possession with the #8 averaging 3.44per, 90 (FBRef data) with 1.88(FBRef data)tackles made (per, 90) in the middle 3rd of the field. Tchouaméni’s robustness in the tackle & desire to engage frequently can result in an above average return in fouls (1.44 per, 90 – WyScout Data), fortunately where he commits fouls are rarely in dangerous positions for the opposition to exploit via set pieces. Mentally, #8 shows a high level of concentration & discipline in his defensive duties resulting in above average metrics across the board (below). His performance defensively sees him measure highly against his contemporaries in central midfield with him registering metrics >80thpercentile (measured against centre midfielders in the Top 5 EU leagues with >800 minutes played) in 5 of 8 measures, but 7 of 8 above the average line. A particular strength is his ability to aerially utilise his strong positional sense, strength & athleticism especially when challenging for the high ball. Tchouaméni’s 6’2 frame is put to good using engaging in 3.65aerial duels per, 90 winning 63.38%. Therefore, placing the #8 in the 86th &91stpercentile ranges respectively, & ensuring his ability is a useful asset in either area at set pieces as well as in open play under a high ball.

Data via WyScout – Centre Midfielder comparison across Top 5 EU Leagues with >800 minutes played

To illustrate Tchouaméni’s impact defensively as per the above we can see that he is highly successful in defensive actions (10.43 per, 90 –80thpercentile), but also dominant in the duels he engages in. When we take a look deeper into his metrics as per the below, the #8 is comfortably performing above average. What is an impressive trait is his ability to break up oppositions hold of possession through interceptions. This is due to his awareness of space & positional sense which is heightened via his innate ability to continually scan the pitch to assess the state of play. Tchouaméni’s ability to intercept play puts him in the >80th percentile for centre midfielders in the Top 5 European Leagues. Comparatively, his stats place him 6th for interceptions (5.6 per, 90) & 4th (7.88 per, 90) for possession adjusting interceptions (Padj interceptions) against other Ligue 1 centre midfielders. What makes this all the more impressive is Monaco on average holding possession 10% more than that of the opposition who average 45%. Therefore, demonstrating effectiveness defensively to impact the opposition in their limited possession. His ability to read the game combined with his high quality decision making enables such a high rate of interceptions (combined rate of 13.48per, 90) as well as success in defensive duels.

Data via WyScout – Centre Midfielder comparison across Top 5 EU Leagues with >800 minutes played

This defensive awareness & reading the state of play on display regularly and in the example below demonstrates his ability to understand the developing situation & be proactive. Against RC Lens (below, Lens vs. Monaco – 30.01.2022), Tchouaméni drops into defence to cover a potential crossing opportunity for the attacking side. As the ball is retrieved in the channel, the #8 has positioned himself in the area in a left sided centre back position & scanning over his shoulder as well as ahead to picture the situation. With the ball at the feet of the RC Lens right back is consistently scanning the situation around him aware of the space differently in front of the defence. He is aware of the opposition attacker on his right shoulder spotting his movement towards the space & steps towards the open area. He demonstrates his quick reactions situation by accelerating into the space, reading the intentions of the forward leaving his marker. As the right back passes into the open space the #8 uses his strength as the players meet shoulder to shoulder easing away from the ball before strongly sliding into to clear the ball utilising his long legs to remove the danger.

Tchouaméni’s desire to protect the defence, to engage the opposition defensively not only provides standout metrics across the board but highlights his physical & mental prowess. An example of his robust tackling can be viewed below where Lens collect the ball just outside the Monaco final 3rd. The #8 is always alert monitoring the pitch creating a picture in his mind as to the state of play & observes both #10 (Ben Yedder), plus #11 (Diop) are being carried away from the ball with their momentum. The space in front of the defence poses a problem to which Tchouaméni anticipates where RC Lens midfield #8 (Fofana) is going to move. The resulting proactive movement from Tchouaméni takes advantage of the midfielder turning onto the ball before carrying into the space, allowing him to press aggressively. Through his quick decision to accelerate into the space anticipating the intentions of Lens #8, he can effectively challenge for possession. In the tackle, he is firm & fair utilising his body well to exert physical pressure to unbalance the attack whilst with a firmly outstretched leg stopping the ball from progressing further. His strength & force in the tackle not only regain possession but fundamentally remove the attacker from play momentarily with the challenge forcing them to the ground. The resulting outcome of winning possession provides Monaco with a threatening counter attacking possession as RC Lens have 7 players in advance of the ball. Unfortunately for Monaco, Diop makes a poor decision moving into Tchouaméni’s line & causes the ball to ricochet back against the #8 resulting in Lens regrouping before regaining possession.

The final example of Tchouaméni’s composure in defence & ability to control the duel can be found in the example below against Montpellier, 23.01.2022. At the restart, Monaco’s #8 provides space to encourage Montpellier to target the teammate free by the byline. Once Montpellier decides to throw into this area Tchouaméni reacts immediately to press & close down the space initially provided. The #8 makes contact with the attacker initially assessing if he can get in front to steal possession, but makes a split second decision to get touch tight behind. Through his decision to get touch tight he can control the attacker & limit his movements preventing the ability to turn. Whilst the attacker is trying to control possession & wriggle free Tchouaméni is tenacious challenging for the ball but take great care not to foul. The pressure he exerts forces the attacker to struggle to maintain his balance ultimately losing his footing as the #8 manages to win possession playing the ball off him for a turnover. Consistently as in these examples, he demonstrates good strength, timing & composure in the tackle providing a protective shield.

Possession Contribution

As part of a possession based system, Tchouaméni is required to be comfortable in possession, able to operate in tight situations & withstand the opposition press. The #8 meets the criteria for the role & exceeds across multiple performance metrics in possession. His technical ability ensures he has a wide range of passing to retain possession or to penetrate between the lines. In his anchor position. With his starting position being from deep he looks to link the defence to the midfield & connect with teammates to dictate the tempo. Possession for Monaco filters through the #8, who makes 58.8 passes per, 90 with his accuracy of 90.47% to ensure they can probe the opposition. His passing isn’t centred entirely around retaining possession as he looks to penetrate between the lines epitomised with his through passes attempts 1.7per, 90. Driving the team towards the opposition area is a trait that allows Tchouaméni to influence the attack from deep consistently with 8.43 progressive pass per, 90 & 10.02 passes into the final 3rd per, 90. Tchouaméni is also positive with the ball at his feet carrying possession to advance play (1.90 per, 90) demonstrating his tight ball control & strength. His carries whilst not significantly high against other Ligue 1 centre midfielders (ranked 24th), his success rate of 67.57% ranking him 8th in Ligue 1. Comparatively, his success rate places him in the>85thpercentile across the Top 5 EU League centre midfielders for carrying success. Should Tchouaméni role encompass more freedom to carry possession this could be an asset in breaking through the opposition from deep creating space as he draws in the press. As the below his deep lying possession restricts his ability to make progressive runs towards the final 3rd driving the attack into dangerous positions. However, his passing is above the average across the board which makes Tchouaméni a vital component of the Monaco attack.

The passing metrics are high for Tchouaméni with him performing in many cases well above the average against the Top 5 European League centre midfielders. His ability to achieve this level of consistency is impacted by his innate ability to understand space & picture the developing state of play. When we look at the below sequence (Nantes vs. Monaco, 09.01.2022) the #8 receives possession in the opposition half between the opposing centre forwards with time to assess his options & build a picture of the pitch. Where possible will look to circulate possession so that he can position himself in a more advantageous in a pocket off the ball, & reposition the opposite as the shift to track play. Once he has passed to a teammate he ensures that he continues to follow play across the field reviewing the space to provide an option should it be needed. After finding space between the forwards & midfield he establishes time to scan the pitch. With his comfort to withstand the press, he remains unphased by the opposition restricting the space. Tchouaméni when provided space in the opposition half will look to play the advanced pass to create threatening opportunities & break the defensive line. As within this attack, the #8 draws in the opposition to create greater space between the midfield & defence which then draws the Nantes centre back out of position to track the centre forward dropping into space. As play circulated out wide, Tchouaméni takes an intelligent position centrally so that he can observe the pitch & offer support infield. He once again continues to scan the field to ensure he can move the ball out of his feet quickly before switching play wide on the left to stretch the defence. Unfortunately, whilst Tchouaméni is orchestrating play repositioning the Nantes defence throughout the sequence the move breaks down when switched wide left as Nantes regroup & execute a 2v1 defensively.

Tchouaméni’s ability to find space & ability to play penetrative passes between the lines of the opposition is a useful asset particularly in the final 3rd of the pitch. As per the below, the #8 progresses play into the final 3rd with regularity with him ranked 6thfor passes into the final 3rd in Ligue 1 & in the 92nd percentile (across CMs in the Top 5 EU leagues). Whilst he is primarily a defensive enforcer in the centre of the pitch providing an outlet for the attack, he understands when to break from his role to provide support in the final 3rd. This is epitomised by his above average contribution in passes to the penalty area (2.21 per, 90) & deep completions (0.93 per, 90). These metrics place him in the >75th percentile across the Top 5 EU League centre midfielders, & ultimately providing Monaco with a creative outlet in attack. Whilst the rate of passes plus accuracy to & within the final 3rd area is above average his accuracy could improve to become a more consistent threat. With that being said Tchouaméni will play high risk passes in advantageous positions which can impact his accuracy.

Data via WyScout – Centre Midfielder comparison across Top 5 EU Leagues with >800 minutes played

The #8’s importance to support & reorientate the attack was evident against Montpellier (23.01.2022), where he supports from deep. With the ball received centrally, there are 2 banks of 4 in front of him with easy options to his right. He decides to switch to the far post trying to exploit that a Monaco attacker is in the right back’s blindspot positioned on his shoulder. Montpellier who are momentarily able to clear their lines but Monaco retrieve the loose ball & build the attack in the right channel via #7 (Gelson Martins). As the ball is played infield Tchouaméni holds a deep position to receive possession drawing the press from a Montpellier player before utilising Monaco’s right back free in by the byline. Montpellier remains strong defensively forcing Monaco to drop deep & recycle possession, ultimately playing once again into the feet of Tchouaméni. The #8 assesses the compact defensive shape of Montpellier & has the vision to ignore the easy option centrally in favour of an adventurous pass into the wide left channel to stretch the opposition to open up space for the Monaco attack. Once the pass is delivered into the left Tchouaméni remains active in play moving into space against the low defensive block by Montpellier where he receives possession. His ability to find space provides him consistently time in possession to scan the pitch & draw a picture as to the potential options to open up the opposition. His decision making is good & in the final play of the attack, he understands that whilst there are easy options these players are likely to be pressed by the defence leading to a counter. His decision is to play a pass into the penalty area with #7 which is cut out by Montpellier but demonstrates his positivity in possession to create openings for his teammates.

The sequence below is the perfect example of Tchouaméni’s ability across his mental, physical, technical & tactical attributes. As Montpellier break out from right hand channel, Tchouaméni is aware of his defensive responsibilities. He makes the decision not to press as aware of #36 (Matazo) tracking the progression & drops back to provide protection to the defence. Under pressure, Montpellier forces a pass into the path of #10 (Mavididi) which Tchouaméni anticipates & intercepts comfortably in the inside right channel. As he turns he has passing options in advance that he can play into but utilises his athleticism to turn & drive into space with possession. He intelligently whilst approaching the final 3rd reduces his pace to draw the opposition defender which opens space centrally for him to initiate a quick interchange running off the shoulder of the pressing defender into space. The movement in the interchange of passes results in the centre back breaking out from defence into midfield to press, but how left space for #10 (Ben Yedder) free between centre back & right back. Tchouaméni carries the ball to attract focus from the defence ensuring a wider distance between the centre back & right back. His awareness as to the threat of Monaco’s #10 leads to a perfectly weighted & delicate chip into the penalty area which the centre forward duly dispatches past the goalkeeper.


Within the English Premier League, Chelsea & Manchester United are both interested in finding a deep lying centre midfielder or defensive midfield player. Tchouaméni meets the profile of the clubs in terms of ability & style of play, as he is more than a disruptor in midfield. There has also been interest shown by both clubs in the dynamic #8 who are looking to increase their options. When we look to compare Tchouaméni he measures very strongly against both Jorginho of Chelsea & Fred of Manchester United. In either team, it’s highly important for the player to retain possession whilst also being an orchestrator linking defence to midfield & midfield to attack. In possession, Tchouaméni is very strong in possession which would be of benefit to Manchester United when compared to Fred’s ability to not only retain possession but also to positively influence play. His ability to influence play in attack is positively for Manchester United would come from the potential uplift in an additional 2.14 per, 90  (10.02 > 7.88) & 1.39 per, 90 (2.21 > 0.82) passes into the final 3rd & passes into the penalty area. The other added benefit would be in his progressive passing which again would see an uplift against Fred of 1.14 per, 90 (8.43 > 7.29). Conversely, Tchouameéni & Jorginho map very closely across possession metrics other than when it comes to ball carries which is where the #8 performers strongly again both players in the comparison with him averaging 1.05 dribbles per, 90 more. His athleticism & technical ability with the ball at his feet would be a benefit to both teams as can carry possession from deep positions & create space drawing out the opposition.

Tactical Tchouaméni is flexible & comfortable in a double pivot or as the anchor point in a 3 with Chelsea utilising both variations, whereas Manchester United predominantly uses a double pivot. Within the midfield, the #8’s physique & athleticism ensures an extra combative element particularly in aerial duels engaging in on average 2.23 duels per, 90 more with a high success rate of 63.38%. This, in turn, provides an additional benefit at set pieces bringing a physical presence in both defending & attacking scenarios. His athleticism enables Tchouaméni to travel box to box with intelligent decision making as to when to commit to an attacking breaking from his position. This decision making ability places him in advantageous positions across the field to support both the defence & the attack consistently as can be seen in his defensive, possession & attacking metrics. 

Tactical Tchouaméni is flexible & comfortable in a double pivot or as the anchor point in a 3 with Chelsea utilising both variations, whereas Manchester United predominantly uses a double pivot. Within the midfield, the #8’s physique & athleticism ensures an extra combative element particularly in aerial duels engaging in on average 2.23 duels per, 90 more with a high success rate of 63.38%. This, in turn, provides an additional benefit at set pieces bringing a physical presence in both defending & attacking scenarios. His athleticism enables Tchouaméni to travel box to box with intelligent decision making as to when to commit to an attacking breaking from his position. This decision making ability places him in advantageous positions across the field to support both the defence & the attack consistently as can be seen in his defensive, possession & attacking metrics.

Both Manchester United & Chelsea have players entering their peak to experienced years with the need to add longer term options to strengthen their squads. Tchouamén’si style is suited to both teams as they look to dominate possession regularly & probe the opposition. His physical attributes put him in good stead to cope with the demands of the English Premier League. With him entering into the final 2 years of his contract this may be the time in which to purchase the French international as Monaco look to profit now rather than risk a low fee if unable to secure an extension to his existing deal.

Scouting Report: Boubacar Kamara


Kamara (#4) made his Ligue 1 debut for Olympique Marseille (OM) in 2017 as a sub against LOSC.  OM’s #4 went on to feature a further 5 times over the season in the league & made 14 first team appearances in total across all competitions. The following (2018/2019) season Kamara broke through as a first team regular being utilised predominantly as a centre back. Due to his versatility, defensive awareness & comfort in possession over the course of 2019/2020 Kamara was deployed as a defensive midfielder 11 times over his 24 ligue 1 appearances. The performances at defensive midfield during those 11 performances became the catalyst to utilise the #4 as the midfield anchor point over the past 1.5 seasons. 

Since Kamara’s debut, he has featured 146 times for Olympique Marseille competing in the Champions League & Europa League too. At this point, it would appear that Kamara is destined to move on from OM either in the remaining days of the winter window or in the summer with him in the final 6 months of his contract & free to discuss a pre-contract with teams across Europe. There are many interested parties in his services with the #4 providing tactical flexibility being able to function in multiple positions.

OM is currently performing strongly in Ligue 1 under Jorge Sampaoli who demands his team to operate within a highly flexible possession based style utilising rotational positional play. Sampaoli has been flexible tactically switching between a 3-4-3 with a False 9 in Dimitri Payet & a 4-3-3. When adopting the 4-3-3 Sampaoli looks to split his centre backs wide with Kamara dropping into the middle forming a back 3 in an advanced role to support the midfield if necessary. This feature of their players is to create overloads in attack as both fullbacks push high in the flanks & the inverted wingers move inside for Marseille to narrow the opposition & yet make full use of the width of the pitch. Whilst others are provided freedom to roam within Sampaoli’s flexible set up the #4 role is more disciplined & concentrated on securing the central space.  As the anchor point, he is often utilised as the starting point of the attack or as the lynchpin to recycle position through midfield as they probe the opposition. As we can see in the heatmap Kamara is concentrated predominantly in the middle third moving from side to side to provide an outlet in possession & cover to the defence. 

Kamara Heatmap- WyScout Data – 21/22 season as of 22.01.22

Defensive Contribution

Kamara’s defensive contribution to OM has been an important factor in their desire to play an expansive & rotational system, providing protection to the defence. His defensive awareness & anticipation enables the #4 to read the game quickly to make decisive actions at important moments. Whilst his position as a defensive midfielder explains his above average defensive duels per 90 (7.07WyScout data), his understanding of when to press & technique when tackling (3.1 per 90, 60% win rate – Instat data) ensure an above average success rate. His high performance in winning his defensive duels places him in the >80th percentile across centre midfielders in the Top 5 EU leagues. As we can see in the metric’s chart across the board OM’s #4 is performing to an above average level against his contemporaries in Europe’s Top 5 Leagues. Additionally, Kamara ranks 33rd in least fouls per 90 (1.23WyScout data) across 291 centre midfielders with >800 minutes played. When Kamara does commit to a foul these are largely as a countermeasure to block a counter & rarely in a position that would pose an additional threat to the defence via an advantageous set piece position.

Kamara comparison against Top 5 EU League CMs – WyScout Data for 21/22 season as of 22.01.22

An example of Kamara’s flexibility & defensive understanding was evident against RC Lens where the #4 was deployed as a defensive midfielder, but had alternate roles in or out of possession. In the example below RC Lens are bringing the ball out of defence to build an attack with Marseille midfield 3 compact in the central space. Kamara drops into a centre back position preventing an overload in the right flank allowing #15 (Ćaleta-Car) to move across. Both in & out of possession Kamara is consistently scanning the pitch to assess the state of play. In the instance below #4 moves with the attacker, but smartly provides himself space as the movement of the referee would otherwise block him. By providing the space he not only creates the ability to avoid a collision with the referee he also sets the trap for RC Lens to play into his marked attacker. When the ball is played towards the central attacker, Kamara’s reactions are quick & incisive as he anticipates the placement of the pass. His strength is another vital attribute in being successful within the duels & regains possession for Marseille to transition quickly into attack.

Kamara demonstrates a high level of concentration & leadership skills which often belies his young age. Out of possession as previously stated will continually scan the pitch to assess the state of play looking to orchestrate his teammate’s movements or taking personal responsibility. As per the below, Kamara is in the anchor position of the midfield 3 providing deep cover & ensuring a 3rd centre back centrally. As RC Lens #8 (Fofana) gains possession heading the ball into the path of his teammate #28 (Doucouré), a space between the OM midfield widens which #8 is aware of. In his deep position the OM #4 points to the danger to encourage #6 (Guendouzi) to move across to close the space for RC Lens #8. Kamara who is consistently in motion positions his body so that he is able to track back with the defence should possession be pushed wide by #28, or close the space centrally. As per the previous example, OM #4 reads the intentions of the opponent in possession & makes the decision to accelerate into the space to challenge RC Lens #8. The resulting actions ensure Kamara is able to intercept the pass & stifle the threat which would have been posed by #8 who had a passing option behind the defence with an attacker on Kamara’s blindside making a promising run. Ultimately, Kamara’s momentum made controlling the ball difficult & chasing down a loose ball. His desire to press for the loose ball applied pressure to #28 who misplaces his 1st time pass behind the defence, allowing them to relieve pressure & recycle possession.

To further illustrate Kamara’s defensive awareness, positional sense & anticipation when we review his metrics. Reviewing his contribution with interceptions, possession adjusting interceptions & shots blocked per, 90 there is further evidence of above average performances. At the base of the midfield his screening of the defence is vital & hinders the opposition from gaining a foothold in possession or time to shoot against goal. His spatial awareness & positioning can be attributed to his >80th percentile achievement in shots blocked per, 90 (top 50 across other CMs). Additionally, Kamara makes good decisions defensively, reading the state of play to assess potential danger & opportunities to challenge for possession. As per the below, Kamara’s ability to adjust possession (6.82, per 90) through interceptions is above the median along with shots blocked per 90. When you factor in his interception rate (4.49, per 90) as well he is a highly effective screen with a combined 11.31, per 90 interception rate which ranks him 14thin Ligue 1.

Kamara comparison against Top 5 EU League CMs – WyScout Data for 21/22 season as of 22.01.22

The final point & example of Kamara’s influence to provide a defensive screen is below. RC Lens drives forward into the right channel with an overload against #15 (Ćaleta-Car) with an attacker in space on his blindside. Kamara as ever scans the pitch to assess where the danger is as moves across from his central anchor role. He is aware that there is space & runner on OM #15 blindside. Kamara sprints into a position to position himself in the gap left by #15 tracking the run into the right channel. Fortunately, the pass into space is slightly under hit, but Kamara’s ability to read the situation & decision to sprint into the vacated area removes the danger. OM’s #4 whilst being defensively minded rather than simply controlling the ball he plays first time into #8 (Gerson) to transition into attack with the potential to exploit the central space.

Possession Contribution

In possession, Kamara is equally as strong in possession & operates as the orchestrator from a deep lying position for OM. He often prefers to play shorter passes to recycle possession in order to draw the opposition out of their defensive shape. His importance to possession is epitomised by him being ranked 5th highest centre midfield passer (69.84, per 90) in Ligue 1. His level of accuracy at 90.58% puts him in the 86th percentile across the Top 5 EU League centre midfielders, punctuating the point on his composure in possession. Although Kamara is a key figure in recycling possession with a high number of back or lateral passes (10.64 & 26.25, per 90 respectively), he is forward thinking & progressive. In possession OM’s #4 regularly drives the team forward with line breaking passes or forward passes into teammates in space. As per the below, we can see that in the upper quadrant & above the median across both forward passes plus passes into the final third. His desire to progress play places him in the >86th percentile across the metrics set out within the chart below. 

His influence in possession was aptly demonstrated against RC Lens where he was able to retain possession, through smart movement & combinations in midfield. As per the below, Kamra from a deep position takes receipt of possession with RC Lens in a low block with 5 spread across the defence & 4 in midfield. As there is time & space the #4 travels briefly with the ball but continually scans the pitch whilst looking to create additional openings. Gerson (#8) drops into space drawing out a RC Lens defender with Kamara utilising his movement to pass forward into space. Kamara anticipates the intentions of #8 for a quick interchange, identifying the space to his left with his movement losing his marker. When in possession the #4 is calm, composed & resistant to an opposition press as physically strong whilst spatially aware of his surroundings. He utilises this awareness to draw in the opposition in which to open up space for teammates to either exploit themselves or create space by moving the placement of the opponent. Upon receiving possession back from #8 draws RC Lens into a compact press before using #14 (Peres) in space to once again reposition the defence.

The pass from Kamara into #14 draws RC Lens towards the byline pulling 4 players into a compact area before receiving possession once again. Rather than remain static Kamara moves into a slightly deep position in the inside left channel to support #14. As he prepares to take possession he takes a quick scan before opening up his body to move the out of his feet quickly & deliver into #8 who is available in space centrally. Ultimately the move fails to develop further once #8 takes possession and the promising opportunity to attack the central space is not taken up. However, the sequence demonstrates how Kamara utilises his mobility along the ball to orchestrate OM in possession & consistently reposition the opposition defensively.

Whilst Kamara is proficient in short & quick interchanges he also has the desire to progress play in the final third & attempt to penetrate the defence. He has good vision & technique when passing which when combined with his positive decision making can lead to exciting attacking opportunities. From a deep position, Kamara has an above average progressive passing rate (7.32, per 90) as he looks to positively influence possession driving OM closer to goal. In an all action first half performance against RC Lens the desire to create through his passing ability was evident & in particular in the below sequence. Kamara who is consistently mobile in midfield identifies the opportunity to support the attack as #2 (Saliba) pass into the feet of #8 (Gerson) for OM. As the ball arrives at the feet of #8 he controls his marker & lays the ball into the path of Kamara & before spinning his marker to run into space. Kamara shapes to recycle position & to play short into the feet of #21 (Rongier), but instead aware of #8 rolling his marker attempts a progressive pass. With little time or space to make the pass Kamara demonstrates good vision, technique & ability to make positive split second decisions. Unfortunately, for OM the pass is slightly overhit which results in the ball skidding off the surface as it bounces with RC Lens #1 able to retrieve the ball. The invention & ingenuity to attempt the pass demonstrates a positive approach in the final third to not simply retain possession, but to take chances to create scoring opportunities.


With Kamara’s time likely coming to an end either in this January window or in Summer it would be beneficial, after benchmarking against Top 5 EU League centre midfielders to compare to someone he may replace or partner. With that in mind & the interest shown by West Ham United, Declan Rice & Tomáš Souček will be utilised as part of the comparison against multiple metrics (comparison image below). When we review Kamara against both he tracks strongly across the board against both players particularly in possession. This is an area that is often an issue for West Ham United when against the traditional top 6 teams or those which are effective in a high intense press. The benefit of a midfield 3 in those games with Kamara as the anchor would provide greater assurance in possession. He is also a player who is able to be more progressive than Souček not only in his progressive passing (7.32, per 90 > 4.37, per 90), but in ball carries too (dribbles, per 90 1.35 > 0.66). Additionally, Kamara’s astuteness tactically & defensive ability would provide Rice/Souček greater licence to join the attack with Kamara providing support from deep.

Where West Ham look to utilise a double pivot in midfield Kamara provides great flexibility in how they wish to set up with his strength defensively & in possession could provide greater control of the game pace. The disadvantage would be if utilised over Souček is the loss of a goal threat (xG 0.65, per 90 < 4.02) with Kamara significantly less consistent in his accuracy too (16.67% < 28.57%). Additionally, in open play & at set pieces a key figure would be lost aerially with Souček engaging consistently to aerial duels (8.44 per, 90), therefore would require both Rice/Kamara partnership to engage aerially more (Kamra: 3.01 per, 90, Rice: 2.3 per, 90). Whilst this would require a change in their involvement aerially there is encouragement with both successful with above average win rates (Kamra: 59.18% & Rice: 49.09%).

Kamara would provide the defence with an outlet as comfortable in tight spaces & able to withstand the opposition press much like Declan Rice. This ability would provide assurances against the opposition press to retain possession. Furthermore, his mobility enables a consistent passing option to the player in possession, drawing the opposition to press & creating spaces to exploit. The attack would also benefit from Kamara’s desire to progress play positively in the final third consistently probing the opposition for weaknesses. 

Defensively West Ham United midfielders Rice & Souček are defensively strong & largely above the average across the defensive metrics. This would significantly help West Ham United to ensure the high standards are continued when there is rotation, injuries, or suspensions. The extra defensive solidity would improve West Ham United’s robustness against the likes of Manchester City & Chelsea particularly centrally. 


Kamara is a strong all round midfielder who provides great flexibility tactically as comfortable to operate in multiple roles. This certainly would suit a squad where there is a requirement for players to function not only in multiple roles, but also in different positions too. Interest is very strong in Kamara especially with him available free in the summer, & January could be the best time to move to get ahead of the competition which will be fierce.

The ability to not only provide a defensive screen but to offer a dynamic orchestrator in possession makes Kamara a promising prospect & key midfield contributor. An area which if improved would elevate Kamara to another dimension would be improving his influence to the attack. In particular, this would be in the final contributions providing more shooting opportunities & being a goal threat. He relies on his passing ability in possession which enables him to dictate the pace of the game, but if he could increase his carries & success there is an opportunity to create overloads on the defence. Kamara’s strength & ability to operate in a highly demanding style at Olympique Marseille would likely see him well suited to the English Premier League. Should he arrive in the English Premier League there would be a period of adjustment, but is an intelligent operator & strong mentally to adjust.

Scout Report: Takehiro Tomiyasu

Nationality: 🇯🇵

Age: 22

Club: Bologna F.C. 1909

Position: RB / CB / LB

Foot: Right

Matches: 32

Goals & Assists: ⚽️ 2  🎯 0

Tomiyasu is a 6’2 Japanese international who was brought to Europe by Bologna in 2019 for approximately £6.3m. Since signing for Bologna he has appeared 60 times in Serie A playing across the defence demonstrating his tactical flexibility. To date, Tomiyasu has featured predominately at RB for Bologna since his arrival but has been utilised at CB more often this season at club level. Tomiyasu over the course of the season has impressed with his positional understanding across multiple positions in defence. Bologna finished in 12th last season 9 points clear of the relegation zone largely due to their home form with them struggling away where they only manage 3 wins. 

As a defensive option, Tomiyasu adaptability & flexibility provides teams the ability to make in came tactical plus formation changes with him a natural across the defence. Defensively he is a strong player as calm & composed in his duels looking to remain on his feet rather than diving in. In possession, he is comfortable demonstrating a good level of technical ability with his passing range & control of the ball. As a CB he displays assured confidence & ability to read the game to intercept attempted passes along with providing aerial presence. Whilst playing in the Full Back position Tomiyasu is strong positionally & good at limiting space for the attacker to move into space or cross into the area. In an attacking sense, he is less effective in a Full Back position as although comfortable in possession he favours passing or early crossing over travelling with possession.  At set pieces he poses a threat for the opposition as he looks to attack the ball with but needs to do this more consistently. His presence at defensive set pieces is important for Bologna as he utilises his strong positional sense & game reading ability to nullify the attack.

Aerial Ability

Tomiyasu at 6”2 & playing RB he stands out as tall for the position, which makes it difficult to target the far post area when delivering into the area. His height & ability at RB also negates the threat in diagonals into the flank as has the leap & positioning to cut out these situations. When playing in a CB role Tomiyasu utilises his anticipation plus positional sense to challenge aerially. In addition, he uses his upper body strength well in the aerial challenges & combative with the attacker to nullify their threat. 

Whether it be from a restart or in open play Tomiyasu utilises good positioning along with the ability to read the flight of the ball to defend the high ball well. At restarts particularly he has the patience to wait for the ball to arrive into an area to attack & positional sense to provide himself room to move into for momentum. An example of his approach at restarts can be found below where he drops back to remain in the defensive line but reads that the ball will fall within the centre circle. His decision making is decisive taking the choice to break from the defensive line whilst at CB to move into a position to challenge for the ball. His leap is impressive clearing the ground well, winning the challenge as he rises above the attacker. His technique heading the ball is clean & strong contact to clear over the final line of defence to move Bologna back upfield.

Another example of his aerial prowess can be found again in the game against Verona as the attack builds in the right hand channel. With the ball in the right hand channel #14 (Tomiyasu) moves quickly into position towards the near post as #35 (Dijks, LB) attempts to close down space by the byline. #14 demonstrates good concentration consistently observing the area to ensure he is aware of any threats approaching the goal to position himself correctly. With #35 unable to block the cross the delivery is floated into the near post area where #14 demonstrates his determination & strength to hold off two Verona attackers. He is a commanding figure in the duel & under pressure prevails with a clean connection clearing to the edge of the area for Bologna to push out.

His strength aerially is not just in his ability to leap well & clear the ground under pressure but also in how he utilises his body to apply pressure or nullify the attacker. He has a very good reading of the ball & able to judge the flight accurately so that he is in the position to maximise his chances in the duel. 

Defensive Set Pieces

Bologna utilises Tomiyasu (#14) in both a Zonal & man marking system whilst defending set pieces with him particularly comfortable in a tight marking system. During set pieces is aerial ability as previously mentioned becomes a useful asset defending deliveries into the area. He has very good concentration ensuring that he follows the flight of the ball without losing the trajectory & remains touch tight to feel his position in relation to the attacker.

As Bologna line up on the edge of the area to defend a free kick in the middle third of the pitch, #14 takes his position to the right of the “D”. With the ball floated in towards the 6 yard area with an out swinging delivery #14 initial holds the line & reaches out his arm to feel for the attacker in his zone. As he drops into the area maintaining his concentration following the flight of the ball he continues to feel for the attacker. He shows good awareness to use his body to feel for the opposition & as the delivery enters the danger area he uses his strength to fend off the attacker. His upper body strength ensures that he is able to shrug off the attacker leaving him with a free header which he clears with authority. His heading ability is clean & precise as he maintains his concentration to head out of the area where Bologna’s defence is able to pressure for possession. 

Against Sassuolo, Bologna is defending a left footed, in swinging free kick in the right hand channel with #14 man marking the attacker at the near post. He smartly positions himself to the side of the attacker so that he has the freedom to move around them depending on the delivery. Whilst this is slightly unorthodox to not stand goal side when marking he remains touch tight. As the attacker makes their move to the near post #14 demonstrates good awareness to track the run & then strength to prevent the runner from moving ahead at the near post. With the delivery whipped into the near post area #14 through his strength & utilisation of his body prevents the attacker from getting in front at the near post. He is still under pressure from the attacker aerially but leaps well remaining balanced in the air & making clean contact with the header. The immediate danger is removed with #14 commanding within his man marking duties, dominating his aerial duel & heading strongly to clear the area of the threat to goal.

The final example of his defending on set pieces can be found below where Bologna is defending an out swinging corner from the right. As they prepare for the delivery into the area #14 is assigned to man mark Sassoulo’s #73 (Locatelli), & is intelligent not to engage directly as Sassuolo players cluster together. His decision not to mark tightly ensures that he avoids being blocked once #73 makes a move to the near post. As the delivery is whipped into the near post #14 tracks the run of #73 using a strong arm & upper body strength to fend him off. By using his strength #14 creates the necessary space to arrive at the ball first & heads strongly into the flank where this teammate is able to apply pressure in an attempt to regain possession.

Tomiyasu provides defensive strength to Bologna through his high levels of concentration & awareness at set piece situations. He is equally adept in his duties when man marking with the ability to keep touch tight where needed & the strength to hold off the attacker in duels.


Tomiyasu’s (#14) ability to contain the attacker is a real asset & has the tenacity to battle for possession with good recovery skills in 1v1 duels. Against Juventus, with #14 switched to LB the ball is played into the right flank as Juve attempt to build their attack through #16 (Cuadrado). With the ball played towards the right touchline #14 tracks #16 as he moves to take possession. As #16 controls possession & turns to face the area #14 takes a good body position to limit the space towards the byline. His body convinces #16 to attempt skill to unbalance #14 so that he can drive towards the area rather than being forced onto his weaker left foot. Whilst #16 draws a challenge from #14 which he fails to regain possession he remains balanced & composed so that he can recover. His recovery is added by the use of his pace & strength to pressure #16 preventing him from creating enough space to exploit the space he initially created. His timing & decision making in the tackle ensures he not only regains possession when challenging but is able to use his strength in unbalancing #16 generating space in possession. After regaining possession #14 has the presence of mind & composure to travel with the ball drawing #10 (Dybala) to press opening up space in the left flank. By creating the space #14 is able to play the ball into the left flank for Bologna to break out of defence & look to retain possession relieving pressure on the defence.

Communication & Concentration from #14 is a strong asset of his when defending which allows him to make good decisions defensively. This decision making & concentration allows him to make quick decisions in situations such as the below when faced with an overload in the right hand channel for Juventus. As the play develops in the inside right with #25 (Rabiot), Bologna’s #14 holds his position close to the LCB to prevent a through ball opportunity into #44 (Kulusevski) who’s moved infield. As Juve’s #44 moves behind #14 he passed over to the Bologna LCB, with #14 pointing out that the player is coming & needs to be marked. Once the LCB moves across as per #14’s instruction he positions himself slightly wider to be in a position to move out & challenge the attacker in possession or quickly press the overlapping FB. As the ball is played into space in the right hand channel #14 remains composed as he gets his body position set to face up against #10. As #10 approaches Bologna’s #14 shows patience incrementally closing down space between them. He positions himself to react to a bust of acceleration done the flank by #10 should he attempt to do so. #14 is aware that #10 favours his left foot so remains in a position where he can challenge if he attempts to move the ball onto his stronger foot which he does. As #10 attempts to progress the ball onto his left #14 anticipates his intentions & puts in a strong right foot to dispossess him. While #14 does well in the 1v1 initially he is unable to clear to the ball as a heavy touch as he attempts to dribble away from #10 allows for Juve to regain possession & continue their attack. Fortunately for Bologna, they aren’t punished any further with the defence able to step up on the attack as an opportunity to shoot is fashioned with them blocking the attempt before clearing.

His concentration & fitness are of a high level with him able to remain mentally aware late into games with the physical ability to maintain high speed sprints too. As was evident against Verona where #14 playing LCB, initially wins a duel centrally before heading the ball upfield. After 3rd phase of play Bologna lose an aerial challenge allowing Verona to regain possession, with them observing space behind a disorganised backline. As the ball is played forward into space on the right hand side of the area for Verona #14 remains focused on the opposition & tracks the runner. #14 provides himself space by not pressing tightly whilst the ball is in the air allow himself reaction time once the ball is brought under control. As a result of providing himself space, he is able to sprint across closing space & limit options for the attacker when they regain possession. #14 get’s his body position where the attacker has to try & move inside but due to the strength & reaction speed is dispossessed. The tackle allows Bologna to regain possession with #14 shielding the ball from the attacker to provide time to recycle the ball without additional pressure. 

The final example of his defensive play comes against Udinese with #14 playing at RB & defending a dangerous attack with a runner joining the play from deep. As Udinese release their #16 (Molina) down the right of the area they have 3 options in the area to aim for with an attacker unmarked on the shoulder of Bologna’s RCB #5 (Soumaoro). #14 is aware of the attacker & moves across to cover his defensive partner’s shoulder as quickly drive into the area. As #14 drops into a position to react to a delivery into the area of the unmarked attack he is consistently reviewing where players are & tracking their movements. When the ball is whipped in at pace #14 anticipates that the GK will be forced into a save & darts into a position where he can cover him or clear danger. His anticipation plus awareness of the potential danger enabled him to place himself between the attacker & ball before clearing under pressure. The clearance not only demonstrated #14’s composure & reaction time but also his balance plus technique as he needs to turn quickly, shifting his weight before connecting cleanly to clear.

Tomiyasu is a strong defender across multiple positions which highlights his tactical awareness, intelligence & strong positional understanding. He is assured in his decision making which leads him to perform well in 1v1 situations & limit errors defensively.


Tomiyasu is a good defensive full back, but not one to go marauding forward or provide overlapping runs consistently. He is comfortable in possession although an area to improve upon is his attacking contribution, decision making as when to deliver & accuracy when crossing. Due to his positional awareness, he does look to hold himself in space to help the attack. An area which Tomiyasu could look to improve on decides his crossing would be in his dribbling in particular the commitment to engage the opposition fullback out wide.

An example of how #14 (Tomiyasu) holds space to support the attack can be found below where Bologna is facing Juventus. With #11 (Olsen) drawing two Juventus players across to close #14 holds his position to create space to move into in the event the ball is played back to him as unmarked. The ball is played back into space for #14 to move onto the ball where he makes the decision to play 1st time into the area. He has the awareness of the run from deep centrally into the area & opportunity to the exploit loose marking from #44 (Kulusevski). The delivery is decent into the area with swerve & pace which allows the attacker to use the pace to generate power. Although, the delivery is slightly behind the attacker which leads them to attempt an acrobatic effort under pressure from #4 (De Ligt). Had the delivery been played ahead of the attacker the opportunity to get ahead of #4 & make better contact when striking at goal.

When Bologna attacks Tomiyasu will always look to support the RW & this is the case when the play breaks into a less structured manner too, with him quickly offering an option. After a set piece is flicked away from the area by Juventus #16 (McKennie), possession is gathered by #55 (Vignato) of Bologna by the touchline. #14 as the ball is moving to the touchline with #55 chasing as the awareness to view the position of the opposition & processed there is a chance to create an overload opportunity. Juventus are alive to the situation moving across to limit space, with #14 receiving the ball with Juventus #10 attempting to press. As the press comes #14 is aware that #10 expects him to dribble towards the byline & feints before cutting back onto his weaker left foot in one fluid motion. He whips into the area a flat left footed delivery to the near post area which is cut out by #13 (Danilo) with a strong header clearing the area of danger. The delivery in itself is into a good area & provides a threat but lacked accuracy in picking out a teammate in the area who were positioned around the PK area. Although the delivery lacked the accuracy to pick out a teammate the technique on his weaker foot ensured that it was a testing delivery into the area.

An area of Tomiyasu’s attacking play he could improve is his decision making in attacking situations & utilising space to dribble into. He has good physical strength, balance & ball control which enables him to be comfortable in both a CB & FB role, but consistently driving with the ball in the channel is not an area of strength. The reluctance to drive forward with the ball & commit the opposition can limit his chances to deliver into the area or make it easier for the opposition to block. This was the case against Genoa with #55 moving inside & receiving the ball deep in the opposition half. With #55 tracked in field this proved space in the right hand channel which #14 is aware of calling for a pace wide pointing where he wants the ball played. As the ball is played into the path of #14 there is space for him to drive into with the Genoa team remaining compact & utilising a low intensity press. With 4 players in the opposition box #14 decides to slow his approach so that he can deliver the ball first time towards the forwards. The decision not to utilise the space to drive forward with the ball & poor technique when attempting to cross results in #65 (Rovella) being able to partially block the cross. The intervention from #65 removes any pace from the delivery allowing #21 (Radovanović) to step out & clear the ball to safety . 

Should Tomiysau continue in a FB role he will need to work on his decision making to recognise when to break into space with the ball. Additionally, his crossing is a particular weakness in his game which leads him to be less of a threat than his positioning should enable him to be.

Build up Style

Tomiyasu has good technique, composure under pressure & vision to play a pass through the lines. Whether he plays centrally or out wide as a FB he has the ability to contribute to Bologna’s build up play. His ability to play through the lines & assured calmness in possession could also provide Bologna with additional cover in a CDM position too. Whilst this is a position he has played sparingly his adaptability & tactically awareness enable him to be a very useful utility player. 

He has good vision in possession & bravery to attempt the more progressive pass, whilst understanding when to be more conservative. He has a wide range of passes he is able to play consistently with accuracy that enables Bologna to progress & retain possession. In the game vs. Juventus #14 (Tomiyasu) receives the ball in the RB position. As he receives the ball he is looking downfield accessing his passing options. He has a safe passing option down the touchline to the RW, but #14 spots the move centrally behind the midfield. Recognising Juventus are pushing up to cover a pass down the touchline & a Bologna attacker is moving unmarked into space with Juventus LCB drawn out of position to press the static central forward. Demonstrating good vision & situational awareness #14 lifts a pass over the midfield line into the path of Bologna’s attacker. Unfortunately, the move comes to nothing with the attacker unable to move the ball quickly under pressure & by turning inside as opposed to outside to exploit the space left by Juventus LB.

In the final third #14 has the ability to recognise when to move into space vacated by the opposition. In addition, has the technique & accuracy to break lines of defence with penetrative passes. With Juventus holding a deep position in their half #14 advances into space in the inside right channel. The Juventus midfield compacts as #14 progresses holding their shape over a press in an attempt to force #14 to play the safe pass into the RW. As he progresses #14 demonstrates good awareness spotting the space between the LCB & LB, with #12 (Sandro) anticipating the pass into the RW. #14 has the vision to see the movement of the Bologna attacker & execute the pass through both defensive lines. Unfortunately, the opportunity to shoot 1st time across the GK wasn’t taken by the attacker which allowed Juventus to reorganise & close space in the area.

Tomiyasu offers Bologna a ball playing CB option who is comfortable joining the midfield to create central overloads & open up additional passing options. When in possession whilst he will make shorter lateral passes he will look to progress play & drive the team forward by attempting to break lines. An example of #14 breaking into midfield to create a central overload came against Verona where Bologna recycle possession before #21 (Soriano) plays into the feet of #14 who moves into a CM position. He controls the ball & plays a quick 1-2 interchange of passes with #21 who’s movement is drawing the attention of the Verona CM creating a pocket of space for #14 as he receives the return ball. Verona holds their shape in a mid/low block as #14 advances into space progressing the ball with multiple passing options. He demonstrates his bravery in possession & desire to drive the team forward with a pass through the midfield line directly into #24 (Palacio) who he spots moving into space. There were safer options in play to recycle possession & to build patiently, but #14 has the vision & technique to play penetrative passes to pose questions to the opposition. In this case whilst the ball was delivered with pace into an area of threat but #24’s control allows Verona to regain possession & the threat was removed.

Tomiyasu’s passing ability make him ideal for a team looking to play a possession based style that looks to build out through the defence. His passing range & ability to pick passes between the lines make him a difficult player to defend against as he has the technique plus vision to exploits spaces in a defensive line. His composure in possession could also make him an option in a central defensive midfield role but would need to be more progressive with his dribbling in this position.


Tactically very strong & highly adaptable Tomiyasu provides his team with a player able to perform at a high level in multiple positions. His high levels of concentration along with a good awareness defensively ensure errors are limited which brings an assured presence in his play. With the ability to remain composed in possession & his technical skills he is very comfortable in possession based style. Due to his passing accuracy, he is reliable in possession with his progressive passing providing an additional attacking threat from deep. The interest from Tottenham is no surprise with Tomiyasu offering a great option in multiple positions which have been cause for concern. With his strength & aerial ability, he would be well place to deal with the physicality of the EPL. He has a good level of pace too which would enable him to adjust to the speed & physical demands of the league.

Should Tomiyasu move to the EPL as primarily a FB there would be a requirement to improve his attacking contributions in wide areas. In particular his delivery as this is currently a weakness & lacks accuracy to pose a consistent threat to the opposition. The positives are that he is a confident defender with good reading of the game which enable him to incept opposition passes & manage 1v1 situations. In a CB role his concentration & composure will be a key asset in a league such as the EPL to manage the frenetic pace in defensive phases. At 22, Tomiyasu presents a player who offers a development opportunity as well as being experienced in a top 5 European division & regular International.

Scout Report: Sven Botman

Nationality: 🇳🇱 

Age: 21

Club: Lille OSC

Position: CB

Foot: Left

Matches: 47

Goals & Assists: ⚽️ 0  🎯 1

Sven Botman left Ajax in the summer of 2020, moving onto Lille OSC for approximately £7.2m after a solid season on loan at Heerenveen. This season he has been an ever present in the Lille OSC starting eleven missing only a single game in the league & forming a strong partnership with Jose Fonte. The partnership was a key part in ensuring Lille OSC had the best defence in the league conceding only 23 goals as they went on to register 83 points & become champions of France. As part of the title winning side Botman played as the left sided Centre Back (LCB) in a back four within a 4-4-2 formation. Unfortunately for Lille OSC, the collapse of the French TV & Covid-19 deal has severely impacted their finances which has lead them needing to sell off players this summer. With significant departures already in Jose Fonte, Boubakary Soumare, Mike Maignan Lille OSC could be depleted further with moves likely for Sven Botman & Renato Sanches.

Botman is an assured, confident young CB who is comfortable in possession with a wide range of passing & good defensive attributes. With his composure in possession, Lille OSC utilises Botman to build through the back recycling the ball before feeding into a deep lying Central Midfielder (CM). Whilst Botman will play a conservative passing style to retain possession & utilise the midfield to progress play, he has the ability to do so himself. Botman’s passing range is effective in switching the play to opposing flanks, exploiting space behind the defence & passing between the lines. He has strong ability in the air which is enhanced by his 6”5 height ensuring he is rarely beaten in aerial challenges & provides a presence in either box at set pieces. Botman despite his size has good pace & quickness of feet to turn quickly in defensive situations to pressure or remove the danger.

Defensive Set Pieces

During defensive set pieces Botman demonstrates his tactical & positional awareness in his ability to successfully defend his zone within a zonal system as well as strongly man mark an opponent too. When man marking at set pieces Botman prefers to be “tough tight” to the opponent so he can control their movements & remain goal side in the event of needing to challenge. With his upper body strength & positional sense, he is very difficult to lose as a marked player in the area. Where Botman also excels is in his ability to read the game to ensure he positions himself in the optimal position to challenge for the ball. He has an impressive presence in the area too that provides him with the ability to dominate in aerial challenges from deliveries into the area. A prime example of this can be found in the below with Botman man marking Angers SCO #4 Pavlović. With the opposition players clustering together they are making it difficult to remain tight & break into different directions as the out swinging corner is about to be delivered. Botman remains composed & has good concentration as to remain close to his marked opponent as those around move towards the near & far post areas. As the delivery reaches the area Botman uses his strength to leverage #4 away from the ball ensuring he remains goal side before attacking the cross. He anticipates where the ball shall arrive to time his move ahead of #4 leaping strongly attacking the delivery. His ability to head firmly under pressure ensures he clears the area providing Lille with the opportunity to push out & reset the defence.

Zonally Botman is very strong at set pieces with his height & leap proving an asset in a standing jump against an advancing attacker. Where he does well is in his concentration & positional awareness in additional phases of play during a set piece situation. As per the example below against ASSE (St. Etienne), Botman is zonally marking the near post area on the out swinging corner from the right hand side. The initial delivery is cleared at the near post as far as an ASSE attacker who recycles the ball into the right hand channel. In the meantime, Botman is continually surveying the area for potential threats looking over his shoulder making small positional adjustments in the event of a delivery to his zone. Once the delivery is whipped into the near post area he drops into the 6 yard area to clear the immediate danger with a stooping header. Botman remains focused following out the clearance which is instinctively struck 1st time by the ASSE attacker towards the goal. Botman blocks the shot attacking the ball with his head making good contact to clear the area to once again bringing the LOSC defence out & allowing them to regain shape.

Botman not only provides a physical presence at defensive set pieces his ability to operate in both a zonal & man marking style gives tactical flexibility depending on the opposition threats.

Attacking Set Pieces

Whilst Botman provides a good option at attacking set pieces he struggles to impact as positively as he does defensively for LOSC. That being said he does provide a threat with his height & physicality when challenging the opposition for the ball but needs to be more consistent to threaten regularly.

When Botman is able to assert himself at attacking set pieces he can provide a genuine threat to goal as per the example below against RC Lens. With RC Lens lining up in a zonal system Botman takes an unmarked position up towards the edge of the area so that he may attack the delivery unopposed when gathering momentum. As the out swinging corner from the right is taken Botman darts to the penalty spot before reading the flight of the ball & alters his direction to match the delivery. Due to his smart movement, he is able to leap towards the ball unmarked with the defender’s leap impended by LOSC #6 (Jose Fonte). Whilst he fails to make the cleanest of contact he is able to direct towards goal with a looping & dipping header which the RC Lens GK does well to tip over the bar.

Another example where Botman positioning provides himself with an opportunity to attack the delivery was evident against OGC Nice. As LOSC prepare for the in swinging free kick from the right Botman positions himself in the centre of the 18 yard “D”. LOSC #7 (Jonathon Bamba) delivers to the left of the penalty spot with Botman able to not only hold his position but to hold off a marker using his upper body strength. Due to this he is able to leap & head the ball strongly but is unable to direct his header on target failing to trouble the Goalkeeper for OGC Nice. Botman recognised this & exploited the space in the defence to attack the delivery into the area. 

Botman has the ability to read the delivery which provides him with the opportunities to pose a threat in the area at set pieces & create spaces for others by drawing attention to himself. He has good aggression to impose his physical strength on the opposition fending off markers or pressuring the defender as they attempt to clear the danger. His height & ability to leap well would provide a clear target at set pieces for any team looking to utilise these attacking situations, although would require improvement in his striking/heading technique at goal.

Build Up Play

Lille looks to build patiently through the defence requiring the CBs to be comfortable in possession to travel into space with the ball & proficient passing ability. Botman ability is very much suited to this style of play & comfortable tactically to receive the ball under pressure or simply to control possession. He more commonly uses his passing to progress play but due to him being technically strong is comfortable bringing the ball out of defence into the midfield area. Botman uses this to create overloads centrally & to open up additional passing options. His passing style is typically short interchanges between his CB partner, LB & deep lying CM but has the vision & ability to be more expansive. An added benefit of playing through Botman is his ability to play penetrative passes through the lines plus a good range which ensures he can play accurately behind the defence. His composure & control in possession make him very press resistant as has the strength to hold off the press plus the calmness to force a rash pass.

Against ASSE, Botman’s pacing range was used to good effect stretching the opposition out of their compact shape & turning the defence with passes in behind the defensive line. In the sequence below, ASSE is holding a compact 4-4-2 with a low intensity press. This provides space to travel into for Botman as the ASSE midfield & attack favour remaining in shape before dropping towards the halfway line. As he progresses to the halfway line he has a safe pass into the LOSC LB #28 (Reinildo) who has pushed high in the left hand channel behind the midfield line. Botman demonstrates his confidence & his vision spotting #17 (Yilmaz) movement between the ASSE CB’s as he starts to run behind. The pass is put into space behind the defence driving LOSC upfield into an advantageous position. #17 has options available in attack with #7 (Bamba) coming central taking up space between the lines & #28 with space in the flank with ASSE RB looking to press #17. Unfortunately, the LOSC attack breaks down due to a poor pass into #7 which is intercepted by the ASSE covering defence to remove the threat. Although the move broke down the pass created a dangerous opportunity to overload ASSE in the left channel & expose the space between the lines. In turn, the opposition lack of pressure was exposed demonstrating the requirement to press Botman to encourage a more conservative passing.

ASSE remained rigid in their defensive approach to remain compact & to hold their shape with a low intensity press throughout the game. This tactical rigidity ensured Botman’s passing range was utilised to great effect to create spaces & switch the orientation of play throughout. When in possession he has the range & technique to switch flanks as per the below example. As before ASSE drop to the halfway line this time in a 4-1-4-1 formation & shifting to the left hand side of the pitch. LOSC hold width with the RB #2 (Celik) pushed high & as Botman moves into the half space on the left LOSC’s front 3 occupy 3 ASSE defenders pulling them infield to create space on the right. He recognises the movement of the front 3 & switches the ball into #2. The switch of play allowed LOSC to stretch the compact ASSE team & create spaces centrally for the attack as they recycled the possession. He has the bravery, vision plus ability to not simply take the option of the safe pass into the LB or CB & recycle possession, but willing to develop play with progressive passes.

His ability to travel with the ball & resist the press was evident as Botman moved into the left hand channel vacated by the LOSC LB who has pushed high. ASSE CF #9 (Abi) moves across to press Botman in the channel where he demonstrates his pace to accelerate into space & progress into the ASSE half. Under pressure from #9, Botman has the option to play a safe pass into #18 Renato Sanches in the LW position to relieve the pressure on himself but has the strength to hold off the pressure from #9. He is also aware of the pressure coming towards Sanches should he pass & uses the press to play into space centrally for #10 (Ikone). Botman’s ability to carry the ball into space in this sequence created an additional passing avenue & broke 1st line of the ASSE defence travelling with the ball & then passing through the 2nd line.

Botman’s ability to retain possession & accuracy when passing is an asset to a team looking to dominate the opposition. His ability from defence to play penetrative & progressive passes ensure that he can break the defensive lines of the opposition creating attacking opportunities. Additionally, his technical ability provides the team with an effective ball carrier out of defence into midfield where overloads can be created to open space for teammates.


Botman is a composed, strong & pacey CB who looks to remain on his feet rather than being overly aggressive when tackling. He has the ability to read the game well with good anticipation which enables him to position himself well for interceptions. His upper body strength allows him to control the marked player by being able to exert himself physically to apply pressure or ease off the ball in his duels. Botman has good positioning & reactions which are important to LOSC as he is able to quickly counter threats as they occur. His physical attributes are key to his game with his pace & strength vital in defensive duels & has a strong leap to triumph aerially. His composure & ability to remain on his feet ensures that he gives away few free kicks to the opposition, also that he doesn’t over commit & pulled out of position.

Against Anger SCO (below), Botman takes a good position in the area keep close to his CB partner & is focused on the #10 (Fulgini) as he takes a shot from range. As the shot is made Angers SCO #9 (Diony) makes a good run behind Botman into an area where he can react to any potential rebound off the GK. As the shot reaches the GK #16 (Maignan) he makes a strong save but fails to clear the ball around the posts but forces the ball into the air & clear of the 6 yard area. #9 is in an advantageous position as they ran on the blindside of Botman who has turned quickly after the shot & reacts to the impending danger. He anticipates where the ball is going to fall as he sprints back into position & uses his body to shield the ball from #9. He remains calm under the pressure from the attacker waiting for the ball to fall to his feet & demonstrates his strength as he holds off the attention of #9 when shielding. Botman is calmly able to place a lofted pass with his weaker foot into the feet of LOSC #17 allowing LOSC to reorganise & retain possession.

The ability to ability to read the game is a key skill of Botman’s which enables him to step across to intercept any loose passes or engage quickly to regain possession. An example of his awareness to read the game was evident as Angers SCO regain possession & attempt to through the right hand channel. Angers SCO #9 makes a good move into the right hand channel drawing across Botman & providing a pass into the flank. The pass is made to exploit the space vacated by LOSC LB #28 allowing Angers SCO #9 to drive forward. As the pass is made & enters the LOSC half Botman reads the pace of the ball anticipating he has the opportunity to intercept. He immediately changes his stride & direction to move towards the ball putting himself in front of the attacker who is unable to react quick enough to Botman’s move. He successfully cuts out the pass with #28 able to move back into position & recycle possession for LOSC. The ability to intercept demonstrated Botman’s decision making & reading ability as a mistake in this position would’ve provided #9 a clear path towards the byline 3 vs. 3 situation for LOSC to defend against. He as this sequence demonstrates is willing to take calculated risks in order to regain possession quickly without resorting to tacking & trusting his reading of the game to position himself to stifle attacks. This can be at times a high risk – high reward strategy as it regains possession quickly & allows for quick transitions into attack or recycling possession. The risk is should his decision making lead to a mistake or issues positionally he could be exposed, but largely he has strong decision making.  

Botman works well within a partnership & holds good positional distances which provides him with the opportunity to cover his partner should they require help defensively. An example of this could be found against RC Lens, where LOSC #6 struggles in his duel against #9 (Ganago) with the CF outmuscling the defender. With his forward momentum, #9 bursts into the area & is pushed wider by Botman who manages to turn quickly to pursue the attacker. As the #9 fires across a shot Botman demonstrates his desire to protect the goal by throwing himself into an attempted block, but unable to get back quick enough. This is due to #9 ability to set themselves quickly & shot early providing very little reaction time for the Dutchman to influence the shot on goal significantly. The shot is low & powerful with LOSC GK #16 getting down early to save the shot across goal.

Whilst Botman was unable to impact the shot he was able to force #9 wider in the area to tighten the angle for the shot on goal adding to the difficulty to finish. He then demonstrates very good awareness of the developing situation with RC Lens CF #9 (Ganago) looking to pounce on the rebound. Botman very quickly gets to his feet so that he can stoop & header the ball clear of the advancing #9 into the path of a LOSC midfielder on the edge of the area. His reaction speed & awareness to prevent the threat to goal in the second phase of play was impressive especially as grounded initially.


This summer could see Botman qualities drawing focus from those in elite European competitions across Europe. His skill set is suited to a team that values possession which encourages all players to take responsibility to progress play & not simply retain possession. His in game adaptability with his passing would be a key asset as he can comfortably recycle possession, but also drive his team forward. The range of passing & accuracy has the potential to break defensive lines as he looks to probe the opposition. He can also turn the defences towards their own goal with passes into channels or over the defence into space. Whilst he tends to use his passing ability over dribbling with the ball he does have the ability to travel forward to create overloads as comfortable in possession.

Despite his age, Botman’s decision making & calmness alongside an experienced CB has lead to LOSC forming the toughest defence in Ligue 1 along with their first title in over a decade. There are no significant weaknesses in Botman’s defensive ability as demonstrates his mental attributes well in his composure, decision making & reading of the game. Positionally he strong which provides him with the platform to defend well against deliveries into the area & challenge effectively to remove the danger. His positional sense is essential when operating in a man marking system which he does well & has the strength to impose himself upon the opposition. Combined with his physical attributes at standing 6”5 along with a strong leap he is an imposing figure aerially which makes him a big asset at defensive set pieces & a potential threat in attack. His pace also is a key aspect that makes Botman a good all rounder defender capable in possession & defensively solid too. Botman development has shown he has the capabilities to perform at a high level with consistency which would likely see him move before too long. 

Scout Report: Duje Ćaleta-Car

Name: Duje Ćaleta-Car

Nationality: 🇭🇷

Age: 24

Club: Olympique Marseille

Position: CB

Foot: Right

Matches: 39

Goals & Assists: ⚽️ 2  🎯 1

After the decision was made to finish the Covid-19 hit 19/20 season early due to health concerns, Olympique Marseille (OM) qualified for Champions League football in 2nd with 56 points from 28 games. This season there were issues off the field for OM which impacted performances leading to a top 5 finish on 60 points, resulting in Europa League qualification. Ligue 1 suffered a setback with the breakdown of the TV deal during the 20/21 season leaving many clubs in financial problems, OM being one of those needing to sell players. This has led clubs to turn their attention to the likes of Ćaleta-Car who could be available for as little as £13m this summer. 

The signing of Ćaleta-Car came in the summer of 18/19 from RB Salzburg for approximately £17m. Since signing he has become an integral part of the OM defence registering 76 Ligue 1 appearances & 91 across all competitions. Ćaleta-Car is currently away at the European Championship representing Croatia, who he have capped the defender 15 times to date.  He is a powerful, ball playing & mobile Centre Back. At 6’4 he provides an aerial presence in both boxes of the field that is & despite his size has good acceleration to sharply press the opponent. Tactically astute Ćaleta-Car provides flexibility with his ability to operate on either side of the central defence or in a 3/4 man defence. Ćaleta-Car has operating predominately in a 3-4-3 setup on the left hand side of a 3 as part of a patient possession based tactic.

Heading & Aerial Ability

Ćaleta-Car is a physical defender that looks to arrive into the aerial challenge strongly to & take advantage of his 6’4 height. Within the duels, he is a dominant figure comfortable whilst tightly marking the attacker, or using his forward momentum in an aerial challenge. His ability to leap well in & out of contact ensures that he fully utilises his height in the challenges with the opposition. As he marks tightly or leaps into an aerial duel he’ll apply pressure physically to the opponent in an attempt to off balance & influence their ability to compete. His physical attributes ensure that he is strong in any challenge with the opposition although the level of aggression can lead him to overcommit.

Ćaleta-Car’s ability to leap strongly & manage good clearance from the ground is typified in the example below against Angers SCO. The Angers SCO Right Back (RB) is pressured high in the right channel by OM’s Left Winger (LW) as he attempts to progress forward. Angers SCO Attacking Midfielder (AM) takes a high position in the inside right space behind the OM midfield. As the RB clears the ball forward under pressure from the OM LW, Ćaleta-Car reads the flight of the ball positioning himself to challenge. He uses his forward momentum arriving sharply leaping with good height to rise above the Angers AM. Additionally, he imposes himself using his arm to leverage the opposition out of contention demonstrating great aggression & power as the ball is returned back upfield.

Against England, Ćaleta-Car demonstrated his strength in duels as well as the ability to challenge effectively when pressing tightly. Although his ability to press tightly & strongly is positive there is a tendency to apply too much pressure committing fouls through excessive force. As per the below, the ball is played long from England into the Croatia half with both Ćaleta-Car & England’s #9 Kane moving into position to challenge for possession. As the ball reaches them #9 is marked tightly & Ćaleta-Car controls the duel preventing #9 from challenging aerially to head the ball clear. He has good technique when heading to generate distance & power which in this instance catches the Croatia CM off guard.

Croatia loses possession with the loose ball headed back into the Croatia half by #4 Rice towards the unmarked #9. Ćaleta-Car in his determination to win the duel shows too much aggression & launches himself into #9. Whilst he wins the header the excessive force pushes #9 to the floor resulting in a foul & allowing England to reset from the set piece.

Attacking Set Pieces

During attacking set pieces Ćaleta-Car is a useful addition with his height & physical presence providing a threat to the opposition defence. His movement enables him to find space to challenge but is unable to do regularly enough to be a genuine goal threat for OM. Where he does well is when he is able to single out the opposition in a 1v1 situation to use his aerially ability & strength to control the opportunity. This was very evident against Angers SCO where an inswinging corner from the right is delivered towards the far post area. As the ball reaches the far post area Ćaleta-Car arrives unmarked leaping high to make contact with the ball. As the header connects he demonstrates his awareness & vision by playing the ball back across goal into a dangerous area. Unfortunately for OM the opportunity is to score is spurned as the attacker fails to hit the target crashing the ball against the woodwork.

Where Ćaleta-Car could improve is in situations when the area is crowded to find the necessary space for himself to connect cleanly with the ball. As in the example against Strasbourg where there is a congested area with the opposition applying a man marking system to limit space. The inswinging corner is delivered from the left to the edge of the 6 yard area dropping centrally to the advancing Ćaleta-Car. In this instance, he is unable to free himself from his marker & misjudges the flight of the ball resulting in him being slightly behind the ball. As a result of him being unable to break from his marker his leap is affected, he also gets the wrong body shape with the ball striking his back before going harmless high & wide.

As stated previously although Ćaleta-Car provides a physical presence at set pieces but is unable to consistently find the necessary space to provide a genuine goal threat regularly. If he was able to find more space at set piece his presence could prove invaluable to creating opportunities through knockdowns or via attempts at goal.

Defending Set Pieces

Ćaleta-Car is a key contributor at defensive set pieces for both club & country using his strength plus height in a congested area to challenge the delivery. His ability to mark tightly is also very useful when deployed in a man to man system, as he is able to track & limit his opponent’s threat. Positionally he is strong enabling him to place himself in the optimal position to challenge the delivery or react to additional phases of play.

Against Strasbourg (below), he demonstrated his defensive strengths at set pieces marshalling his marked opponent & clearing strongly. Ćaleta-Car was deployed in a man to man system with him occupying the far post area. The inswinging corner taken from the right is delivered towards the area he is marking his opponent. As the delivery reaches the far post he has successfully positions himself between his man & ball. He anticipates the trajectory leaping well to rise unchallenged to firm & cleanly head the ball clear in the direction of OM teammate #10 Payet. The quality of the header clears the immediate danger & enables OM to counter against the Strasbourg defence.

Ćaleta-Car’s positioning and awareness is an asset during set pieces as was evident against Montpellier in preventing a scoring opportunity after a second phase attack. A free kick is taken from the left with an inswinging delivery to the near post area. Ćaleta-Car is zonally marking the middle to front post area as the delivery enters the box. As the OM defence challenges for the ball, the initial clearance is poor from the delivery resulting in the Montpellier attacker presented with the opportunity to shoot. During this point, Ćaleta-Car has followed the action across to the near post area ensuring that the Montpellier attacker running off his shoulder is covered. His next movement is decisive as he recognises the clearance is looping towards the 2nd attacker at the front & steps to his left covering his Goalkeeper. The attacker instinctive shoots on the volley cleanly & with power, but due to Ćaleta-Car’s anticipation of the danger is able to block the attempt. His strong block provides OM with the opportunity to clear the danger further & transition quickly into an attack.

In the match against OGC Nice Ćaleta-Car’s organisational & communication was evident when defending the set piece. Prior to the inswinging corner from the left being taken he points to the OM sub their position to take in the area. As the corner is delivered he marks tightly his opponent using his strength to position himself in front of the attacker. He demonstrates his upper body strength with a strong arm leveraging the attacker into a position where they aren’t able to get near the ball in the aerial duel. As the ball is cleared from the area OGC Nice retrieve the ball & look to continue the attack. Ćaleta-Car demands his defence step up quickly towards the 18 yard line using his arms to remonstrate with the OM defenders to push up & get regain their shape back to press.

Ćaleta-Car defensive contributions at defensive set pieces, fully utilise his strength & aerial ability to clear threats into the area regularly. His anticipation & concentration levels ensure that when marking he remains in contact until he can move away to attack the ball & position himself to defend 2nd/3rd phase attacks. Overall would be a key figure in a defence to stifle the opposition & quell threats.

Build up play

OM look to build from the back adopting a controlled possession based style which suits Ćaleta-Car & his skill set well. He is comfortable in possession with good control albeit not a defender to drive into midfield with the ball & commit the opposition. Where he excels is in his control when passing the ball with very good accuracy leading to ball retention. His control ensures that even when pressed he is resistant to the pressure & able to maintain possession through smart passing combinations. Ćaleta-Car is progressive with possession & demonstrates good vision to break defensive lines with his passing ability.

Whilst Ćaleta-Car looks to make short lateral interchanges with the defence & into midfield to retain possession there is a more expansive side to his quality. He has the ability to play penetrative passes through the lines consistently to break the defensive line or accurate long passes exploiting spaces. His awareness of where space is on the field is impressive & has the ability to find teammates accurate as they look to stretch the opposition. An example of this can be found again Saint-Etienne (ASSE), where he receives the ball in the RCB position as the opposition regain their 4-4-2 shape. As he moves with the ball he is able to see that both OM Wing Backs are pushed high & wide against the opposition. He has a simple pass out to #29 Pol Lirola on the flank to progress the possession, but acutely aware of the ASSE Left Back (#13 Miguel Trauco) shaped to press in the flank. In addition to the #13 primed to press both #20 Bouanga & #19 Neyou Noupa are moving across to limit the space available. Ćaleta-Car spots space in behind #13 & recognises the movement of OM #26 Thauvin who takes a position on #13’s shoulder running in behind. The movement triggers Ćaleta-Car to play a long pass into the channel as ASSE #9 Abi moves across to press. His awareness & vision to recognise the run into space forcing the ASSE team into running back towards their goal by changing the orientation of the attack. Unfortunately for OM #26 chose to play the ball off #13 with a backheel to earn a corner instead of controlling the pass to attack space at the byline.

The range of Ćaleta-Car’s passing was fully utilised against England in the European Championship & he was a key figure. His contribution was vital in the patient build-up play & was an orchestrator from deep to progress through England’s defensive setup. With Croatia in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Ćaleta-Car was used to recycle possession within the backline & connect the defence with the midfield. His other role in possession was to play progressively attempting to exploit any spaces in the defensive lines. An example of his progressive passing to exploit spaces in the English defensive line can be found below. As he receives the ball on the halfway line England is in a compact low block restricting space through the centre. Ćaleta-Car has the opportunity to play a simple pass into the feet of #10 Modric, but has the bravery & vision to be more progressive. He is able to recognise that #4 Perišić is in space on the inside left channel & been able to isolate himself against England’s Right Back #2 Walker. The pass played over the midfield line is accurate & arrives at the feet of #4 who is unmarked. #4 has time & space to turn before driving at the defence with a potential 2v1 situation as #25 Gvardiol has pushed high into the left channel. Unfortunately, the move breaks down with #25 drawing the attention of England’s #2 before the ball is delivered into the area, but the delivery is poor & gathered by the Goalkeeper. His ability to find the pass meant the defence was stretched & forcing the midfield to drop deep, creating a 2v1 overlapping opportunity in attack for Croatia.

Another example of his passing ability between the lines came as Croatia recycled the ball in defence with England in a 4-4-2 defensive mid block. With the play switched to the left, there is space for Ćaleta-Car to move into which he does travelling with the ball into midfield. As he progresses he is aware of the space in the left flank & makes the decision to pass through the gap in midfield through to the unmarked #4. The ball is played with good pace & accuracy allowing #4 to take the ball in his stride before attacking England’s #2 in a 1v1. Had the delivery been of quality there was an opportunity to challenge the defence.

Ćaleta-Car’s passing accuracy ensures that his team is able to retain possession with a calm composed build up. His technical ability plus vision provides his team with a player capable of changing the tempo with incisive & progressive passing altering the state of play.


Defensively Ćaleta-Car is very combative & demonstrates good aggression imposing his physicality on the opponents. His level of physicality provides him with an advantage in aerial situations & when marking his opponents as able to use his strength in regaining possession. He looks to press sharply with intensity in order to regain possession & limit the space for the opposition to attack. He has good pace & acceleration over a distance to close down any space effectively. Whilst his aggression enables him to regain & pressure the opposition in defensive duels it can also lead to fouls resulting in cautions. Additionally, his aggression can create mistakes in his approach play when defending as he overcommits leaving opportunities to be dribbled past. With that being said his defensive work is very strong with a high level of concentration & awareness to consistently stifle opposition attacks.

In the early stages of the England game, Ćaleta-Car set the tone for his defensive performance as he marks tight against #9 as England patiently build in the left channel. As #19 Mount plays into the area Ćaleta-Car successfully holds up #9 using his strength to prevent the CF from turning on goal. England’s #10 Sterling finds space behind #2 Vrsaljko (Croatia) in the area with the #9 able to slide a pass into his feet. With the ball at his feet, #10 advances into space on the edge of the 6 yard area unchallenged. Ćaleta-Car shows great recovery speed to accelerate back into a position where he can challenge, & arrives with a strong block tackle to concede a corner.

Ćaleta-Car positional play in defence is good & sensing the intentions of the attacker to block a dribble from progressing or cutting out passes. His positioning paid dividends against Angers SCO where he finds himself in the centre of the 3 CBs, as the attack advances. While play develops he is consistently observing the play & other potential threats aware of the Angers SCO CF free centrally, but well placed to press should he need to. Angers SCO plays a sharp combination centrally to free the midfielder to run directly at the OM defence. Ćaleta-Car is aware of the space to his left which is where the attacker intends to attack looking to exploit the gap between CB & LCB. With him anticipating the intentions of the attacker he quickly moves to his left & then engages in a sliding strong challenge to close the avenue of attack. The challenge is fair & dispossess the attacker clearing the immediate danger removing the momentum gained by Angers.

In 1v1 situations, he is largely patient to wait for an opportunity to commit to the tackle. A good example of his ability to track runners from deep & remain calm in a 1v1 situation can be found during the match against ASSE. With the ASSE Left Back (LB) #13 receives the ball by the touchline their Left Winger (LW) #20 moves infield finding space behind the midfield & in between OM’s Right Wing Back (RWB) #29 & Ćaleta-Car. The LW #20 makes a good movement running between #29 & Ćaleta-Car into space in the flank. Ćaleta-Car is aware of the attacker & open space behind, therefore tracks the runner as they look to receive the ball played into the inside channel. With #20 approaching the area Ćaleta-Car takes up a good body position so that he can go with the runner into the channel in the event of continuing to run or press for a tackle. The pace is slowed down by #20 before attempting to burst into space but he is prevented from doing so by Ćaleta-Car. He reads the intentions of #20 as they attempt to cut onto their right foot & drive towards the area, sticking out a firm left foot to tackle the opponent. With the tackle, the threat to the defence was removed allowing OM to regain possession with #29 retrieving the ball.

An area of his defensive approach which can be exploited is his aggression to win back possession which can lead to him being caught out of position or committing fouls. The desire to win the ball back quickly can impact his decision making as he presses too quickly leaving himself vulnerable. The more aggressive pressing style appears more evident in a 3 man defence than in a back 4 where he is more controlled in his approach. Defensively Ćaleta-Car is willing to sacrifice himself in dangerous situations by committing cynical fouls & stop the attack. This was very much the case against Montpellier as the defence is pulled across to the left with the opposition attacking options overloading both flanks. As #12 Ferri regains possession he clips the ball into space down the touchline towards #6 Sambia who is unmarked as OM LWB #11 Luis Henrique is pressuring Montpellier #12. Ćaleta-Car moves out to the flank to close down space but then sprints & dives into the challenge aggressive force to stop the attack. Whilst he prevented the #6 from dropping the ball into space for them to take advantage of the overload his decision to challenge which such force was excessive resulting in a 2nd yellow & red card.

Ćaleta-Car is a strong defender with good pace & stamina to cover over a distance with the ability to recover the ball in 1v1 situations. His combative nature is both a virtue & a potential weakness but it does largely fall on the side of positive.


With the financial issues in Ligue 1 & OM, there is a very likely chance that Ćaleta-Car could be picked up for a bargain price this summer with £13m mooted. With his tactical flexibility along with his experience at the International & European level, he would be a solid acquisition for a team challenging consistently for football in elite competitions. His physical presence would ensure that should he travel to the English Premier League he’d settle into the league’s physicality well. He is strong tactically & technically too which would ensure he would be an asset in any of the top 5 leagues in Europe.

For Ćaleta-Car to reach the elite level clubs his decision making & aggression would need to be more measured as his level of cautions resulting in suspensions. His progression with the ball would likely need to improve with him breaking out of defence in possession too creating overloads centrally. That being said at an elite level has much to offer with his strength, height & aerial ability making him an asset in either area. He has good passing ability to compliment a possession based build up style but the ability to play progressively through the lines or accurate long passing to stretch the opposition. For teams looking for a solid, ball playing CB this summer Ćaleta-Car would be a smart & potentially inexpensive solution that has the potential to continue developing to a very high level.

Scout Report: Manuel Locatelli

Nationality: Italy

Age: 23 (08.01.1998)

Club: U.S. Sassuolo Calcio

Position: CDM

Foot: Right

Matches: 33

Goals & Assists: 4 ⚽️ 2 🎯 

Sassuolo finished comfortably in 8th place in Serie A level with AS Roma with 62 points respectively. Tactically they set up largely in a 4-2-3-1 formation playing a possession based style utilising Locatelli in a double pivot alongside #8 Maxime Lopez. Locatelli has spent the past 3 seasons at Sassuolo initially on a 1 year loan deal before signing permanently in the summer of 2019 for approx. €13.5m. During his time at Sassuolo, he has represented the club 99 times predominately in a deeper defensive midfield role. Locatelli who wears the #73 for Sassuolo isn’t a traditional CDM who simply breaks play with good pressing, tackling etc. he is an orchestrator from deep who’s integral to build up play. Locatelli has a good balance of a competitive & combative defensive player with the guile plus creativity of an attacker.

Locatelli’s contribution to Sassuolo has drawn attention from across Europe mostly notably from the likes of Manchester City, Manchester Utd, Chelsea & Juventus. His form for Sassuolo has earned international recognition with Italy resulting in 11 caps to date, & is a key member of the European Championship 2021 squad. With a positive display for Italy in the Championship Europe’s elite clubs could show a greater interest in Locatelli & his abilities.


Locatelli’s combative nature is very much evident in his ability during aerial duels to physically impose himself. His strength in these duels is aided by the ability to leap strongly in both a standing or in a running jump. With his upper body strength during aerial duels, he is difficult to unbalance which enables him to remain strong in contact when challenging directly with an opponent. Additional aspects that aid in his ability to challenge aerially is his positional play & anticipation which provides the opportunity to be in the right area to challenge effectively. 

Whilst Locatelli has good positives in his aerial ability he does need to improve the quality of his heading as his technique can prevent a better connection with the ball. This was evident in the European Championship match Italy vs. Turkey where his initial headed technique left him requiring a second attempt to regain possession. As per the example below, Locatelli engages in a duel with #6 (Tufan) where he initially does well to leap strongly, controlling his opponents’ ability to clear the ground. His technique, once he meets the ball, isn’t clean resulting in the ball being pushed back into the air, but he anticipates where the ball is moving to. In the second attempt #6 moves with Locatelli, but fails to engage leaving a free header which although resulting in another poor contact Italy was able to regain possession. Seizing on a lapse in concentration from Turkey, Italy can regain possession through #4 Spinazzola before moving the ball on Inside Forward #10 Insigne.

Another example within the same match game from a Turkey clearance of an Italy set piece where Locatelli anticipates the trajectory of the clearance & moves into position. Turkey’s #9 Karaman moves out towards the ball anticipating there will be a second ball, which happens due to Locatelli’s technique letting him down. Although his heading in the initial phase is disappointing his concentration ensured he quickly gets into a position to challenge #17 for the second ball. Once again his upper body strength enables Locatelli to control his opponents’ ability to leap, then intelligently flicking the ball back towards the Turkey area into the path of Italy’s #3 Chiellini. 

Whilst his technique can prevent Locatelli from connecting cleanly his presence in situations is largely positive & can result in retaining possession or instigating an attack. Against Lazio, he demonstrates once again his concentration as he watches the flight of the ball. He is able to assert himself on his opponent as he takes his forward momentum with him as he leaps into the air to challenge #94 Akpa Akpro. His aggression in the challenge provides him with the force to dominate the duel & winning his header to push the ball into the path of Sassuolo’s #23 Traore to set off a counter.

Locatelli is a strong competitor in aerial duels with good anticipation & concentration levels to engage in challenges across multiple phases if necessary. Whilst he certainly has his positives there is room for improvement in his technique when heading. Should he improve on his overall technique & timing when heading there could be greater benefits gained in both defending or attacking situations.


A particular strength of Locatelli is his ability to defend in multiple scenario’s effectively & with a high level of quality. In defensive situations, he is highly mobile & active in pressing with the view to regaining possession for his team whilst being solid in the tackle. With his high anticipation levels, he moves quickly to engage the opposition placing himself in the optimal position to engage the attacker. Whilst he is quick to press & uses good levels of aggression in the tackle he demonstrates patience to not over commit. His concentration levels are also high as he patrols the spaces in front of the back 4 to cover any potential gaps that the opposition look to expose. His desire to press quickly ensures that Sassuolo can regain possession in the opposition half with great regularity, providing countering possibilities.

During the Lazio game, Locatelli sits deep in Central Midfield taking up a good body position as he focuses on Lazio’s #11 Correa. He observes that neither chasing teammates are in a position to challenge effectively for the ball, but makes small adjustments as he anticipates where #11 will drive into with the ball. His patience & positioning enables him to move into the path of the attacker before tackling strongly resulting in a clean regaining of possession. The strength in the tackle along with his timing enabled Sassuolo to remove the danger from a developing situation where #11 had a clear path towards the back 4 & goal.

Another aspect of Locatelli’s defensive play which is impressive is his determination to drive back into position when out of possession using his pace to close any space. A prime example of his determination to not only get back into position but to regain possession was epitomised in the below sequence against Juventus. As a Sassuolo attack breaks down the ball is cleared into the left hand channel towards #44 Kulusevski, Locatelli is behind the play after joining the unsuccessful attack. As Juventus #44 heads the ball into the path of #10 Dybala, Locatelli accelerates to close the space while  #10 controls the ball before moving forward. The pace & determination demonstrated ensured that he closed the space to challenge the ball carrier. His strength in the physical duel provided the advantage to unbalance #10 & slow down his progress before he stretching out a strong leg to dispossess his opponent. Locatelli’s concentration levels are impressive as is his endeavour to challenge for possession as it breaks loose after the initial successful challenge.

His determination to not yield possession of the ball easily is evident as he slides in strongly in an attempt to secure the loose ball against #44 who followed the play infield. Locatelli’s aggression in the tackle prevents #44 from winning the initial loose ball, but he is also quick to get to his feet to regain possession in a 2nd challenge as it breaks loose once again. Unfortunately for Sassuolo, they are unable to create an opening against Juventus after Locatelli’s hard work, but his contribution was vital in preventing Juventus from countering dangerously.

Whilst Locatelli defensive contribution is very positive in his desire to pressure the opponents quickly it can lead him to commit needless fouls giving away set pieces, or diving into challenges where difficult to regain possession. As in the match against Turkey where #5 Yokuslu is about to receive the ball in space Locatelli accelerates quickly in an attempt to pressure possession. He demonstrates a good turn of pace & desire to close #5 intending to regain possession & trigger a counter direct against the Turkey defence, but arrives too quickly. As a result, he is unable to control his approach to #5 who is aware of Locatelli’s momentum taking him to his left, therefore feints in that direction before shifting to his right & drawing the foul enabling Turkey to reset from a set piece.

All in all, Locatelli is a highly performant defensive operator for both club & country who offers a highly mobile midfielder able to cover the back 4 efficiently. His strength & control when tackling ensures that the opposition is disrupted in their buildup play as well as attacks. His mental ability also makes him a big asset as his determination, anticipation & positioning provide him with opportunities to intercept regularly.


An area of Locatelli’s game that could benefit from further development is his ability to drive forward with the ball consistently. He is a highly technical player with very good control & comfortable taking possession in tight spaces but can provide the opposition with the chance to dispossess him when dribbling at pace. Should his overall dribbling develop further into greater close control moving at pace with his upper body strength would drive his team forward with more consistently.

Although Locatelli prefers to dictate play from a deeper position he demonstrates that he can also be a dynamic foil for the attack as he joining from deep. Due to his technical, tactical & mental ability he provides Sassuolo with a player comfortable in a box to box role where they are provided opportunities to attack consistently. This was clearly demonstrated against Lazio where Locatelli was a figure utilised effectively predominately in the left hand channel to create overloads. As per the below Sassuolo’s #6 Rogerio receives the ball in the left flank & attracts Lazio’s #29 Lazzari across to pressure #6. Locatelli is aware of the space behind in the left hand channel providing #6 with a pass into space to stretch Lazio & draw players out of position. Locatelli takes control of the ball & has the presence of mind to slow the pace of play drawing in Lazio’s #92 to challenge before accelerating towards the byline. He uses his strength to hold off #92 whilst maintaining close control of the ball with him looking to drive at the opposition area & draw additional defenders. Locatelli’s driving run condenses the Lazio defence in the left hand channel before attempting to play in Sassuolo’s #23. Unfortunately, the anticipation of #23 causes the move to breakdown & Lazio are able to clear the danger.

Locatelli can have lapses in control which can lead to him losing the ball in advanced positions resulting in a slowing down of the attack or loss of possession. In the Lazio example below, Locatelli demonstrate his creativity & close control with the ball to create space but also the inconsistency he can have when dribbling. As Locatelli receives the ball in the inside left channel he allows the ball to come across his body drawing the attention of the defender. He is aware of the incoming pressure feinting a cross into the area pulling the defender into a position to block a cross before performing a tight “Cruyff” turn. The tight control & use of skill creates room for Locatelli who identifies the space between the cover left Wing Back & Centre Back to drive into. In this instance, Locatelli’s control when moving the ball out of his feet to drive into space is disappointing. His miscontrol under little pressure loses the attacking momentum & provides the left Wing Back the opportunity to regain possession preventing the attack from developing into a threatening situation. 

Locatelli does look to draw fouls when dribbling particularly when receiving the ball in pressured moments & does so with smart positioning of his body when protecting the ball. Against Juventus Locatelli was able to do this on a couple of occasions to relieve pressure on the Sassuolo defence allowing them to reset & restart from a set piece. As per the example, Locatelli is receiving the ball with Sassuolo under pressure & aware that #14 McKennie is moving in quickly to challenge. Locatelli uses his body to protect the ball from #14 positioning himself directly between the man & ball, before slowing down play to control possession. He is conscientious of another approaching defender therefore lulls #14 to believe he will turn towards his goal, but drops his shoulder to move towards the Juventus half & progress forward. The movement from Locatelli draws in #14 catching him unbalanced leading him to scramble to contain his advance drawing a professional foul by pulling his shirt. 

Dribbling isn’t the threat he utilises to unlock teams from deep although does have the ability to use his skill to create space when in possession or progress forward. His close control in tight situations is good which ensures he is comfortable taking possession of the ball under pressure. Should he develop his dribbling ability to add forward drives to his play he will add to his already dynamic skill set.

Link Play

Locatelli looks to create space & orchestrate play from deep with Sassuolo engaging in short combinations to move the opposition around the pitch to create passing angles to exploit spaces. He will often drop into a deep role to collect the ball of the defence either centrally or in an auxiliary Left Back area to enable Sassuolo to spread wide on the pitch with the Full Backs pushing high.

Where he excels is in his ability to change the orientation of the attack & speed up the state of play using combinations before looking to break the lines of defence. Locatelli’s positional play & understanding of space is pivotal in his ability to dictate the movements of both Sassuolo & their opponents. His importance to the buildup play is highly influential as they set traps to release Locatelli & others for him to find between the lines. Against Parma, Locatelli positions himself between the opposition Centre Forwards as the ball is buildup slowly by the defence before he moves into a position to chip into #17 Müldür. Once Locatelli moves to the ball this has set a trap to draw Parma to press & open spaces to exploit. As #17 receives the ball Parma press leading to the ball to be played back into the feet of #21 Chiriches & drawing the Left Centre Forward to press. Locatelli finds himself in plenty of space to receive the ball before turning quickly & playing into space in the right channel for #17 to break past the first line of defence. #17 is unable to advance & plays into Locatelli who has the awareness to position himself in space so that he can receive the ball. Parma look to press him once again but he is resistant to the press showing great vision to chip the ball into the right hand channel breaking the press. His decision making is good as he is aware of the midfield pushing up, exploiting their forward momentum to accelerate into space to support #25 Berardi. Unfortunately, the move breaks down after Locatelli moves into space with the ball drawing out the Parma Left Centre Back & passing back into the feet of #25 who loses possession. 

Another example against Parma, Locatelli positions himself between the opposition first line of defence & away from the midfield 3 creating space for himself to operate within. As they build up across the defence Locatelli is consistently looking over his shoulder to build a picture of what is ahead of him. Once again Sassuolo set the trap to draw Parma into pressing so they can release Locatelli with the ball. As the ball is circulated to #17 Parma Left Centre Midfield breaks from the bank of 3, resulting in a pass back into the feet of #21 before playing into Locatelli how is now is space as #21 is pressured too.

Once Locatelli is found in space he has the vision & quality to spot #92 Defrel drop into midfield away from his maker playing through the lines setting Sassuolo onto the attack. Locatelli’s ability to pass & move proved to be a consistent problem in the Parma game as he orchestrated the Sassuolo buildup which consistently unsettled the opposition structure. His ability to find space between the lines ensure that the well placed defensive lines were disrupted as placed himself in the optimal position to punish any spaces.

Locatelli is very comfortable in a slow paced buildup & possession based style where he is required to come deep & accentuates his technical ability when passing the ball. His ability to control the tempo is possible with his composure in possession along with his vision & quality striking the ball. As was demonstrated against Juventus where he drops deep to receive the ball from the Goalkeeper Consigli in a 3rd Centre Back position. While he is waiting for the ball to reach his feet Locatelli is already scouting ahead to picture the state of play so that he can make any quick decisions if needed. He is happy to build up slowly travelling forward before playing into central midfield, combining with Sassuolo #14 Obiang in a short exchange. As he interchanges passes with #77 Kiriakopoulos Juventus have behind drawn across to the left hand side. Locatelli has the vision & technical ability to quickly move the ball out of his feet switching the ball into the open right hand channel for the unmarked #22 Toljan breaking 2 lines of the Juventus defence. Locatelli’s pass immediately changes the point of the Sassuolo attack & ensures the Juventus defence are having to scramble into position to prevent a wide overload.

With time & space, Locatelli was afforded he demonstrated how he will look to probe the opposition moving them around the pitch with passes between the lines before stretching play. That being said Locatelli likes to take the ball in tight situations as confident in his resilience to the opposition press, as per the below where he wants to take the ball whilst between 3 Juventus players. As #77 plays back to the defence Juventus drop into a midfield 5 with Locatelli dropping deep to collect the ball. As he progresses he observes the position of Sassuolo’s #23 behind the Juventus midfield & plays with pace an accurate & probing pace into his feet. The pass draws the midfield of Juventus to press quickly, concentrated into the left hand side & becoming compact as the ball is returned quickly into Locatelli. As he receives the ball he has a simple pass into the #22 who is free in the Right Back position, but he spots that #25 is unmarked in the flank. Locatelli switches the ball bypassing the midfield line of defence, unfortunately for Sassuolo Juventus Left Back #12 is alive to the danger to cut out the developing danger.

Locatelli is a dangerous player in possession & very comfortable in a possession based system where players are encouraged to take the ball in tight situations. His ability to remain resistant to the press is impressive as he using his spatial awareness to consistently find space to exploit the opposition by moving between the lines & then picking passes as he aims to progress play.


In conclusion, Locatelli is an exciting talent who can function in multiple roles due to his tactical, technical & mental ability. He primarily performs a deeper role for Sassuolo where he is responsible for recycling possession & probing the opposition with smart passing through the lines. Locatelli has demonstrated at an International level with Italy that his workrate plus willingness to consistently join the attack & determination to defend makes him a dynamic box to box midfielder too.

With Locatelli now 23 he is showing very positive signs of development & an ability to perform consistently at a high level. His performance at club level is now translating to the International team where he is becoming a pivotal member of the 3 man midfield. With his performances continuing to impress there is much interest in his service & this summer could see significant change for him. Locatelli would certainly suit a team that looks to control possession & would benefit from his passing ability. His calmness of composure ensures he can orchestrate play with patience but acutely aware of when to change the orientation of play or state of play with probing passes between the lines. 

Those that could be interested in his services are Juventus but big interest could come from the English Premier League with Manchester City, Manchester United & Chelsea. In particular, the English sides are looking for dynamic Defensive Midfielders to dominate in 1v1 situations & retain possession. Locatelli could provide this as a strong defender &highly proficient technically with superb vision to break the defensive lines of the opposition with precise dynamic passing.

Scout Report: Nikola Milenković

Nationality: Serbia

Age: 23 (12.10.1997)

Club: Fiorentina

Position: CB / RB

Foot: Right

Matches: 37

Goals & Assists: 3 ⚽️ 1 🎯 

Milenković standing at 6ft 5 inches is an imposing figure for Fiorentina & a key member of their defence since joining back in 2017, making 121 Serie A appearances to date. Fiorentina has suffered a season of inconsistency which has seen them embroiled in a relegation battle for much of the season before eventually pulling away to finish 13th & 6 points clear of 18th place Benevento. The season relied heavily on the performances of leading goal scorer Dušan Vlahović (21 goals) & Milenković (3rd highest scorer) to guide them through a tough season which saw Fiorentina appoint Cesare Prandelli in November to arrest the decline in results. Prandelli has since resigned after securing Serie A safety citing “a darkness has grown” which has lead him to feel unable to provide 100% to the role & Fiorentina.

Milenković’s contract is within its final year which makes him an intriguing option for any clubs looking for a commanding defender who is tactically flexible, & able to operate in multiple positions. Predominately Milenković plays on the right side of a 3 man defence for Fiorentina, but is comfortable across each of the positions as he has demonstrated across the course of this season. Milenković offers a modern style CB who is comfortable in possession utilising his ball playing ability to ensure Fiorentina can build patiently from the back & move through the phases. As per the nature of the modern RCB/LCB Milenković is confident moving forward into space breaking out from the defensive line to provide midfield overloads or making both underlapping & overlapping runs in attack.

Defending Set Pieces

At set pieces, Milenković is a defensive asset with his height giving him a size advantage in aerial duels. He also has the ability to leap strongly clearing the ground even whilst under pressure to exert his presence on the attacker in challenges. In addition to his quality aerially which he regularly dominates, he demonstrates strong positional sense & comfortable in both a zonal or man marking system to which he excels in the latter. This is due to him being able to control the attacker, maintaining a touch tight marking style, anticipating their movements & only leaving his opponent to attack the delivery into the area.

Against Lazio, Milenković matched up primarily against fellow CB Francesco Acerbi (#33) at corners & utilised a man marking style to neutralise the threat of the attacker. As Lazio prepares for an out swinging corner from the right hand side Milenković positions himself goalside of #33 & partially side on so he can change direction quickly if necessary. The delivery is placed centrally to the edge of the six yard area with #33 advancing to meet the delivery but is denied the opportunity to connect by Milenković. During the delivery, Milenković uses his upper body strength to control #33 placing his arm out to impede a clear run towards goal. Milenković as he turns towards his goal positions himself successfully ahead of #33 to ensure that he is able to leap high under little pressure, once again using his arm to leverage the attacker away from the ball, before he flicks the ball away from danger.

Milenković has good concentration levels when defending set pieces remaining focused on the attacker in additional phases of play & aware of the potential dangers. In the example below Napoli have a corner from the left hand side to be taken by Insigne (#24) & Milenković is man marking at the back post area. Napoli takes a quick short corner with Zieliński (#20) arriving at the edge of the area quickly drawing two Fiorentina players out of position to pressure the attack. As the ball arrives to feet #20 plays a one time pass back to #24 to deliver. At the point of the short corner falling to the feet of #20, Milenković is man marking Rrhmani (#33) at the far post, until he observes the shape of #24 body as he approaches the ball & anticipates the placement of the delivery. As #24 is about to meet the ball & deliver, Milenković quickly changes his body position & sprints to the far post area of the 6 yard box to deal anticipating the location of the delivery. Milenković recognised that fellow Fiorentina defender was struggling to block the movement of Osimhen (#9) & utilised quick decision making to only arrive unopposed aerially. By making the split second decision to leave #33 unmarked Milenković was able to not only remove the immediate danger with a lobbing header away from the advancing Napoli attackers, he additionally cleared over unmarked #33 who held his far post position. This, in turn, ensured the effective covering of his teammate but more importantly allowed Fiorentina to step up & pressure #33 as he looked to retrieve the ball, forcing a rash delivery back into the area which was cleared on the right hand side of the defence.

In all Milenković’s high level of concentration along with his aerial prowess & strengths in man marking ensures Fiorentina have a dominant presence in the area to combat against the opposition’s attacking set pieces.

Attacking Set Pieces

Attacking set pieces see Fiorentina actively target Milenković who utilises good movement & strength to find spaces in the area in which to attack the delivery. His awareness of when to move against the defenders makes him a big threat as he can lose his marker or positioning himself so that he is difficult to challenge. The attributes he demonstrates in defensive set pieces such as concentration, anticipation, strength & aerial ability are all well utilised by Milenković when attacking the opposition goal. 

Against Napoli, Fiorentina takes a short free kick in the left flank with Milenković holding a position outside of the area away from any of the Napoli defence who hold a defensive line against the edge of the 18 yard area. Milenković waits for that the Napoli defence to drop further into the area as they set to deal with the in swinging delivery from the inside left channel. By holding his movement forward Milenković demonstrates great spatial awareness understanding that as Napoli drop this provides him with space to move onto the delivery unmarked. His decision to initially hold his position on the edge of the area ensured that he was able to gain forward momentum & enable a strong leap against the defenders. Unfortunately, the delivery into the area is played slightly behind Milenković, who has to backtrack before connecting with a looping header which the Goalkeeper gathers. Milenković smart movement provided him with an advantage against the Napoli defence, but the advantage was lost making it difficult for him to cause a threat to goal once he won the aerial duel.

In the example against Juventus (below) Milenković highlights his strength & aerial ability in a contested duel as well as demonstrating once again his clever movement to gain an advantage. As the out swinging corner from the right hand side is about to be taken Milenković makes his move against his marker who is looking to block his progress into the area. Milenković uses the block to his advantage by pushing away from his marker before sprinting towards a far post position before stopping sharply & driving inside towards the penalty spot area to make contact with the ball. Milenković’s movement left the defender unbalanced, unable to change his direction quickly as to get in front of him to challenge strongly in the aerial duel. Instead, Milenković ensured the defender struggled as he utilised his upper body strength fending off a significant challenge which provided the opportunity for a powerful header towards goal. 

A particular strength Milenković demonstrates at set pieces is his concentration levels during additional phases of play. As the play develops he maintains his concentration & consistently observes his position to gain space in the area. His ability to do so ensures that he can react to opportunities such as a ricochet resulting in a loose ball, which has resulting in 2 goals this season. Against Udinese, all his qualities at attacking set pieces were evident, as Fiorentina set to attack a free kick from the left flank Milenković lines up in the far post area. Once Biraghi (#3) starts his run to the ball Milenković makes a smart step back towards the edge of the area drawing his marker in the same direction, then immediately sprints towards the near post. His marker is left off balance, struggles to turn & Milenković can get free of his marker easily. Whilst the delivery at the near post is cut out it is only flicked as far as Castrovilli (#10), who has time to control the ball before crossing to the back post. Milenković is aware of the Udinese defence moving across the area & holds his position at the far post. As the cross from #10 is delivered to the far post Milenković is unmarked & powers a header into the net past the Goalkeeper.

Milenković’s ability to find space at set pieces & to challenge strongly in duels would be an asset in a team with an emphasis on making the most of set plays. His smart movement & concentration during additional phases could bring further scoring opportunities with consistently good delivery into the area.

Build up Style

Fiorentina look to build up play from the defence which requires players that are comfortable in possession & able to remain calm under pressure. Milenković suits the style as he is a proficient passer of the ball, albeit not entirely expansive. His technically ability ensures he is comfortable to step out of the defensive line with the ball & bring into midfield creating an overload on the opposition. When moving forward with the ball Milenković will utilise his strength to fend off an opponent over quick feet, & look to use the ball to create space with “pass & move” plays. Milenković passing is largely conservative utilising shorter passes into the deep lying Central Midfielder or right sided wing back, but is very precise & deliberate. Although, his passing style is conservative with a number of lateral passes Milenković does look to move the ball forward when in possession. His ability to remain calm in possession enable him to be press resistant & ensures under pressure he can find a teammate, as not rushed into a rash pass.

An example of his more expansive passing can be found against Lazio where at the restart Pezzella plays to Milenković in the LCB position. As the ball is travelling Milenković reviews where his teammates & opposition are so that he is able to get a picture of the game to help his decision making in possession. Once in possession Milenković is aware that Correa (#11) is moving forward to press him & Lazzari (#29) stepping up to be in a position to pressure Fiorentina #3. As #11 moves in at pace to pressure Milenković he’s aware of the space in the left hand channel created by #29 stepping forward. Milenković plays at pace a pass between two Lazio players #29 & Milinković-Savić (#21) into the feet of Castrovilli (#10). The pass catches Lazio defence out of position & off guard with Lazio RCB Marušić (#77) initially moving to intercept before having to sprint across to pressure #10. The pass provided Fiorentina with an opportunity to turn the Lazio defence, taking advantage of space & provide the foundation to build an attack.

Milenković has the ability to play passes between the lines & drive Fiorentina forward with good effect as he steps forward from the defensive line. Against Napoli he receives a pass from deep lying Pulgar (#78) into space as he steps forward into a more advanced position. Milenković could play a simple pass into the Right Wing Back Venuti (#23) then drop back into the defensive line, but decides to advance play. Milenković is aware that Vlahović (#9) is initially in an offside position but is getting free of his marker. This triggers Milenković to move diagonally into space to maintain a passing lane into #9, before pass through the Napoli midfield to #9. Unfortunately, for Fiorentina a promising attack is scuppered by a poor pass from #9 into the unmarked advancing #23 in the right hand channel

Milenkovic ability in possession allows him to be proficient in multiple styles & would be an asset in a team with a preference for ball retention. Should he utilise more expansive passing regularly he could break the lines of defence much more & provide a deeper lying playmaker. His composure under pressure & his press resistance adds a calm figure to a defence where an emphasis of play out from the back is encouraged.


Milenković is a strong & aggressive defender who will look to press early getting tight to his opponent in an attempt to regain possession. His style brings largely positive results as he’s strong in his duels & committed when tackling preventing attacks from developing & regaining possession. The disadvantage of his play is that it can lead to a number of free kicks being awarded as he exerts his physicality upon the opposition with too much force. That being said Milenković physicality is an asset in his role, where he also demonstrates very good positioning, aerial ability, awareness & marking. Milenković’s aerial ability is particularly impressive with him dominant in this area of his game. Where Milenković stands out is in his positioning & anticipation of the danger in developing attacks. This was none more so evident than against Lazio where he produced vital defensive contributions to prevent clear scoring opportunities.

As per the example below, Correa (#11) can find space in the centre of the Fiorentina half, time to turn & move towards the Fiorentina defence. Milenković is aware of the positioning of Immobile (#17) who has found space between the CB & LCB position. As #11 advances he attempts a through ball into the path of #17 with Milenković sprinting across to be in a position to pressure/cover the developing situation. As the ball falls into #17’s path Milenković anticipates based on body shape that a first time shot is coming correctly & slides across the to block. The awareness & speed at which he moves across to prevent #17’s shot from having enough power or direction to cause the Fiorentina goal any issues. 

Whilst Milenković has good anticipation & positioning some lapses can lead him to try & cut out a pass or movement too soon. The resulting decision can leave him vulnerable or out of position providing the attack with rare opportunities to exploit. In the example, Milenković has a good starting position aware that a pass in #11 is unlikely due to him covered by Castrovilli (#10), & starts to drop deeper anticipating a pass in behind the defence. Ribery (#7) fails to press Marušić (#77), allowing him time to play a pass over the defensive line for #17 of Lazio to chase. Initially, Milenković uses his strength & pace well to prevent #17 from getting ahead of him but misjudges the bounce of the ball. His misjudgement leaves him out of position & #17 free of a marker but fortunately for Fiorentina, #11 wasn’t close enough to capitalise on the cutback.

Milenković’s vigilance in defensive situations enables him to react quickly as he is consistently accessing the state of play. This level of awareness & concentration ensures he can map the positions of the opponents as well as his teammates. As Luis Alberto (#10) drives forward into the final third Milenković positions himself in line with the edge of the “D” so he can cut out a central through ball. As the ball breaks free Milenković aware of the threat posed by #17 changes direction quickly to sprint for the loose ball before decisively making a sliding clearance. The decision to commit to the sliding clearance removed the danger for the defence & prevent the quickly approaching #17 from taking advantage in the area.


With Milenković in the final year of his contract, he is attracting a lot of attention & seems very much suited to the physical demands of the English Premier League (EPL). He is tactically flexible & able to operate in either a back 3/4 as well as an auxiliary Right Back if required. He is technically strong & provides accurate measure passing in defence enabling a high level of ball retention playing from the back. His physical & mental attributes would provide him with an easier transition into the EPL, where his aerial ability, strength & positioning provide a solid base to deal with the English game.

Milenković to excel at an elite would likely need to improve the expansiveness of this passing game to incorporate more forward passing. Additionally, would be called upon to try & pass through the lines more during periods of sustained possession too. His physical strength would enable him to step out of defence comfortably under pressure too & provide when required overloads centrally in midfield before utilising his accurate passing.  He would provide any team with a threat at attacking set pieces & a powerful asset when defending them too. All in all Milenković is a dominant defender with high levels of concentration & measured aggression which would suit a move to the EPL.

Scout Report: Ludovic Blas

Nationality: France

Age: 23 (31.12.1997)

Club: Nantes

Position: CAM / RW / SS

Foot: Left

Matches: 39

Goals & Assists: 11 ⚽️ 4 🎯 

Nantes narrowly avoided demotion, finishing 18th & were required to win the Ligue 1 relegation playoff against 3rd placed Ligue 2 side, Toulouse. After a tumultuous season that saw 9 wins, 13 draws & 16 defeats, Nantes ended on a positive beating Toulouse over 2 legs by the away goals ruling (2-2 aggregate score). Much of the victory can be attributed to the impact of Ludovic Blas who was a creative spark over the 2 legs & scored the decisive opener at Stadium de Toulouse.

Since moving from EA Guingamp to Nantes in 2019 (estimated €7.2m deal), Blas has been an ever present figure in the Nantes team adding goals to his creative outputs. His versatility has lead him to be utilised in multiple formations throughout the season before Nantes settled on the 4-4-2 & 4-4-1 setup. Through the settled upon setup, Nantes has utilised Blas natural ability as an attacking midfielder (CAM) to play a free role behind a lone Centre Forward, or as a Second Striker with a licence to roam & find space between the lines. In turn, this has lead to Blas being able to play closer to goal than previous seasons resulting in his highest goal return to date, & find greater spaces to orchestrate play.


Due to the tactical flexibility, Blas offers he’s able to operate in alternate defensive setups & styles. Blas is due to his tactical understanding from multiple positions can provide good cover for teammates in wide positions when caught out of position as he moves into an area to ensure overloads opportunities aren’t easily found. As a right sided attacker, he provides support to the full back & tracks the opposition runners in an attempt to provide the defence with additional support.

His work rate defensively suits the tactical setup as within his accustomed free role his defensive duties are less in favour of securing a position to press in his zone but to otherwise remain in open space. When the ball is in his zone he’ll press in an attempt to either regain possession or to cut out easy passing lanes as the team looks to build from the back. 

In the example below the Montpellier, CM collects the ball to process forward & Blas presses quickly to engage the opposition so that they aren’t able to drive forward. By applying pressure he can unbalance the CM, easing them away from the ball so that he can then challenge before the second Montpellier player can enter the duel & contest possession. Through Blas’ persistence & tenacity to he can push the ball away from both Montpellier players regaining possession & circulating possession to restart the building of a Nantes attack

Whilst the above example demonstrates Blas tenacity in an attempt to win possession this is still an area that Blas needs to improve in to provide greater support to the defence. He has the desire to go into contact & apply physical pressure to the opponent but in the 50/50 challenges & duels, he can be lightweight or clumsy trying to regain possession. As stated previously Blas is a willing presser of the opposition & can do so quickly at pace, but in a duel, his commitment to a tackle can be inconsistent or commits easy fouls. The example below demonstrates Blas eagerness to press with intensity as he first moves towards the CB, & displays his balance to change direction quickly to move out towards the LB. Initially, Blas does well to contain the Toulouse LB forcing him to turn back to goal applying good pressure, cutting off the passing lanes into either the Toulouse LM or LCM. Unfortunately, for Nantes Blas in his attempt to regain possession becomes impatient & clumsy exerting too much force against the LB ultimately knocking him to the ground relieving pressure.

Instances such as the above, can relieve pressure on the opposition & provide an opportunity to reset with the ball as Blas becomes overly intent to win the ball. This can also lead to him trying to win possession whilst off balance, therefore, lacking the necessary force to regain possession or whilst shielded against leading to lunges. Although, there are areas for improvement in his defensive capabilities he does provide good pressing especially in a high press tactic & in a free role his ability to find space provides his teammates with an out ball when possession is regained. Whilst him being “free” may seem detrimental to the team’s defensive structure it has its advantages as ensures the opposition CM has to be aware of his position to not over commit, therefore, drawing oppositions players out of their attack to monitor Blas.

Close Control

Blas is utilised by Nantes as one of their main ball carriers where they benefit from his close control & ability to move whilst in possession at pace to drive them forward. With the ball at his feet, he can demonstrate his high technical ability which translates into quality close control, dribbling & quickness in his feet to move the ball between either foot as he moves. In addition to the high technical ability, Blas has a good centre of gravity which enables him to turn sharply changing his direction of travel retaining his balance as he does so. To maintain this at speed relies on his agility to move his body without losing his centre of gravity & therefore becoming unbalanced, especially as he comes into contact with opposition defenders looking to gain an advantage.

An example in his ability to move with the ball quickly, maintain control of the ball at pace & balance under pressure from the opposition was demonstrated well against Toulouse in the below. As stated previously Blas will look to position himself in space in defensive situations to provide a quick transitional option for Nantes, as the ball breaks loose he is situated behind the LCM of Toulouse (#8) on the half turn with open space in front of him to drive with the ball. Blas has a good level of anticipation of the situation & that the #8 has an opportunity to challenge. Therefore, utilises his upper body strength & body to leverage the #8 away from the ball shielding effectively leaving only the option of lunge for possession. Blas is then able to use his pace to burst forwards into space in the right hand flank drawing the attention of the Toulouse #8 & #3 pulling both into a wide position, where it appears Blas has isolated himself.

What Blas intelligently does is to slow down his pace in possession to invite #3 into committing to a challenge. Once the movement which Blas was waiting for comes he pushes the ball forward deftly into the space using his strength to ride the challenge & pace to burst into the open space. His awareness of the potential danger to Toulouse defence leads him to play into the Nantes CF who is in open space with a potential 2v1 scenario against the Toulouse RCB with the LM sprinting forward on the far side to join the attack. Unfortunately for Nantes, the move broke down & the advantage was lost, but Blas ability to move with the ball ensured they were able to transition quickly into attack & ask questions of Toulouse defensively.

Blas has great confidence in his ability to carry the ball for Nantes & will look to drop deep when needed to collect before looking to create opportunities in attack. When Blas is in possession he can be difficult to dispossess whilst moving at pace as has tight control of the ball & good upper body strength. This was demonstrated against Montpellier (below) where he comes deep to collect the ball before deciding to take the ball forward, initially the opposition LB does well to force him out wide away from supporting teammates. As he did against Toulouse #3, Blas slows the pace to draw in the challenge for the ball before using a turn of pace & strength to push beyond the challenging Montpellier Left Back. From here Blas has pulled the LB out of position as well as the LM (#7) who is forced to cover, which Blas takes advantage of recognising the body position of #7 is heading towards the byline. Intelligently Blas changes direction sharply deftly sliding the ball between the legs of #7 before driving towards the area of Montpellier where Blas is eventually bundled over, but deemed to have gone down to easily under a clumsy challenge.

In all Blas quality enables him to consistently receive the ball in tight spaces for Nantes and to either drive the ball forward or to relieve pressure before moving the ball into a position to recirculate possession. His ability in possession ensures he is a useful tool in a counter attacking set up as his awareness of space enables him to receive the ball before driving directly at the defence of the opposition. He is intelligent & aware leading him to understand when to slow down possession & look to earn fouls to relieve pressure on the defence, but equally adept to recognise when to try & pull the opposition out of position to create pockets of space for teammates to exploit.


Despite Blas only having 4 assists to his name this season this isn’t a reflection of his ability as he has good vision & the ability to find his teammates between the lines or in threatening positions to the opposition. He has a very good understanding of how to utilise space to provide himself time to picture the potential scenarios across the pitch also an innate ability to probe & exploit the opposition. Blas does favour dribbling with the ball & exploring pockets of space to always being heavily involved in the passing build up. Although, when in possession he looks to move Nantes forward playing between the lines or where possible exploiting spaces behind the defensive line.

As per the example (below), Blas is initially looking uninterested in the build up & walking in the inside left channel before the ball moves to the LB & he moves into a pocket of space in the left flank. As Blas receives the ball he draws the Toulouse RCB out of position shielding the ball so that a tackle isn’t possible. At this point, Toulouse RCB & RCM (#31) believe they have restricted Blas’ ability to progress the ball forward. Blas is aware of the situation & could make a simple pass back to the Nantes LB, but this would lead them to be under pressure from #31 who is poised to press in this situation. What Blas recognises is his teammate is already on the half turn ready to run in behind into the space, and chips the ball behind the defence resulting in an attacking opportunity for Nantes. Unfortunately, Nantes lack the quality to take advantage of the opportunity & Toulouse remove that danger. What the sequence demonstrates is Blas can draw attention to himself, before choosing the right moment to exploit the oppositions positioning.

Blas awareness of developing situations is impressive as he is able to control the pace of the possession to draw opponents & ability to disguise his intentions. Against Montpellier, he positions himself in open space to receive the ball, as he advances the defence compacts blocking passes into the Nantes CF & RM. Blas has surveyed where his teammates are then draws the RCB & RCM closer before playing a no look pass across the area to the on rushing CM who arrives unopposed & in space but unfortunately shoots over & wide.

Blas awareness of developing situations is impressive as he is able to control the pace of the possession to draw opponents & able to disguise his intentions. Against Montpellier, he positions himself in open space to receive the ball, as he advances the defence compacts blocking passes into the Nantes CF & RM. Blas has surveyed where his teammates are then draws the RCB & RCM closer before playing a no look pass across the area to the on rushing CM who arrives unopposed & free from a marker but unfortunately shoots over & wide.

Much of Blas involvement is not in heavy possession based build up but his ability to find his teammates would enable him to connect play before executing incisive passes as per the below example. As Nantes LCB receives the ball, Blas is aware of the open space & moves into the left hand channel to receive the ball, allowing the LB to move ahead as he drops back providing a pass to continue with possession. Blas continues to orchestrate the play in the LB position travelling slightly before playing a 1-2 with the Nantes LCM compacting the Toulouse team on the left hand side, with Blas seemingly happy to simply recycle possession. This triggers the press from the CF of Toulouse who Blas pass easily dropping his shoulder before advancing drawing 3 Toulouse players towards him. Blas showcases his accuracy & vision by anticipating the Nantes CF running in behind sliding a pass through the opposition players to put Nantes through via the inside channel.

In the existing set up at Nantes Blas is encouraged to find spaces & move with the ball over being involved in the buildup. He does have the ability to find teammates which would allow him to operate in either a more counter attacking direct passing style or link play as part of a possession orientated set up. Should Blas become more involved with the build up & continue to find the spaces between the lines as he does he could very well create more opportunities with his incisive passing & vision.


This season has seen the biggest improvement in Blas outputs in terms of goals & is due in part to his understanding of space helping him to arrive at the right time to take advantage of the opportunities created. In addition to his movement & spatial awareness, his technical quality ensures that he’s able to strike the ball cleanly with power when the opportunity arises. His involvement in the Nantes attack has been greatly impacted but the tactical approach to allow Blas a free role either alongside or behind the CF, allowing him a more central role & freedom to roam.

In the 1st leg against Toulouse, the free role of Blas was causing issues as his movement made him difficult to mark & demonstrated good positioning to consistently find space to exploit. The first half optimised his endeavour & attacking prowess as Blas was able to score within 10 minutes of play along with continually asking questions of the Toulouse defence as he dictated play. In the creation of the opener Blas drops to the halfway line receiving a pass from the LCB moving the ball onto the CF dropping deep to link play, & continue his run around the back of the CF to provide a potential option in behind. Blas anticipates that the CF will win the duel & continues his movement forward as his marker is drawn towards the ball which is eventually passed through into the path of then now unmarked Blas. As he approaches the area is aware that he has the pace advantage against the Toulouse RCB & smartly slows down his pace before using a burst of acceleration plus a slight change of direction to open the angle to shoot at goal. In the moment it takes for the RCB of Toulouse to readjust Bla shoots cleanly with power, low to the goalkeepers right, squeezing past him into the net. When firing with his left Blas is able to generate significant power with little backlift demonstrating his technical ability with this stronger foot.

In attack, Nantes rely on Blas’ intelligence to take up positions in space to break quickly at the opposition utilising his pace & ability to find teammates in space looking to orchestrate the creation of chances on the counter. His ability to recover the ball & intercept provides Nantes with a very good platform to counter attack the opponents as per the below, Blas drops deep to offer cover centrally. As the Toulouse RB plays a wayward pass Blas collects turning quickly & positioned directly behind the CM of Toulouse leaving him plenty of space to drive forward.

As Blas progresses he’s aware of the Toulouse RCM who is sprinting back to apply pressure attempting to close down space, but he is conscious of the Nantes CF unmarked in the inside left channel. Although the move ultimately breaks down once the ball is moved onto the CF, Blas progressed forward maintaining free space to receive a potential pass, but more importantly, he can be seen dictating playing instructing where the ball should be moved onto for the attack to continue.

The final example of Blas contribution to the attack & importance can be found in the below against Montepellier. As Nantes build in the left hand channel Blas demonstrates his ability to judge when to arrive late into the area to capitalise on the movements of the defence as they drop into their positions. Blas has the ability to arrive unmarked & in space which he manages to find himself between four Montpellier defenders, but he has the presence of mind to anticipate the RCB will continue to move to his left as Blas feints right before dropping his shoulder before driving onto his stronger left. Blas deft movement sends the RCB in the wrong direction leaving the RCM having to drop & try to apply pressure, with Blas movement across his path making it near impossible to challenge for the ball without committing a foul. Unfortunately, after the great work to find the space, driving into a shooting position his shot selection lets him down as he shots low & hard as the Goalkeeper comes forward to close down the angle.


To conclude at 23, Blas is developing his game & becoming the fulcrum of the Nantes attack with him an influential player who is consistently making key contributions for a struggling Nantes. His return of 15 goal contributions is his best to date with his abilities flourishing in a free role at CAM. Blas offers Nantes an intelligent player both in & out of possession able to understand how to utilise space to exploit the opposition in transition, also providing himself time to access the state of play. With his technical ability & adoption of the central free role Blas could very well improve on his contribution in attack as his innate ability to find space enables him to great opportunities to find teammates breaking the defensive lines.

This summer Blas could see interest from within Ligue 1 & beyond as he continues to demonstrate his flexibility being comfortable in multiple positions & tactical setups. Where Blas could excel is within a fast paced counter attacking team as he thrives when the game breaks down in the transitional phases, utilising his vision to find teammates breaking between the lines. Blas appears suited to a fast paced league & could flourish in the English Premier league as has a physical presence in possession along with the ability to work in tight high pressure situations.

Scout Report: Patson Daka

Name: Patson Daka

Nationality: 🇿🇲

Age: 22

Club: RB Salzburg

Position: CF

Foot: Right

Matches: 32

Goals & Assists: ⚽️  30 🎯 7

RB Salzburg managed by Jesse Marsch finished first in the regular season & is now part of the playoffs to decide the league champions. Daka has been ever present in the first team this season & contributed greatly to their attack. Salzburg operates with fluidity in either a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 shape as part of the attacking setup. As part of this setup Daka’s flexibility is utilised as he plays across the front 3 or with a partner.


In the defensive setup, Daka operates within the first line of the press pushing onto opponents high in their half. As part of the press Daka will aggressively run at pace towards the ball carrier in an attempt to close the space. A majority of Daka’s recovery attempts come from the opposition half, as he is able to use his speed to close down passing lanes & pressure the ball carrier effectively.

Against SK Sturm Graz he epitomised his pressing style aggressively closing space to slow quick build up or prevent the opposition from creating overloads. In the example below, Strum Graz restart after conceding a goal with Daka immediately pressuring the CM. This leaves the CM with only the option to pass back to his RCB, to which Daka sprints to force the RCB to make a decision. Fortunately for Strum Graz, the RCB was able to pass just before Daka closed his passing lane to the RM.

Whilst Daka was unable to prevent the RCB from finding an out ball his ability to press with intensity left the opposition with limited options. This initiated the press which in turn resulted in the Strum Graz RM being pressed immediately by the Salzburg LW pushing them back & playing long.

Daka’s awareness & tactical understanding in defensive situations ensures that Salzburg is able to regain its shape as they transition from attack to defense. An example where Daka demonstrates his awareness & teamwork can be viewed below as Strum Graz look to counter quickly. As the attack breaks down on the edge of the area the ball is passed into the inside channel with Daka spotting the open attacker. He demonstrates his determination by sprinting back into a covering position with 5 Salzburg players in advance of the ball. Daka’s sprint enables him to close down space very quickly & almost ensures he’s able to block the pass. Whilst the pass wasn’t blocked his run into a covering position prevented the attacker from isolating Salzburg’s RB in a 1v1 duel.

With his positional intelligence & tactical understanding, Daka’s defensive play ensures Salzburg can effectively press opponents high “squeezing” possession. Due to his pace & body positioning Daka in loose ball situations can also cause issues for defenders as he’s able to get ahead then draw contact. Against Strum Graz this also brought about attacking opportunities for Salzburg to burst past defenders & drawing fouls.

Link play

Daka provides good variety in attack for Salzburg as comfortable receiving the ball in multiple ways. His passing game is strong which enables Salzburg to build from the front & retain possession as the buildup through the phases. Whilst Daka is only 6’ft he has a great leap & able to rise well for the aerial passes to challenge defenders in the duels. For someone of his size he does well when competing for the ball, as able to pressure the defender by using his leap & body position to restrict how cleanly they can make contact with the ball.

Daka is deceptively strong which enables him to play with his back to goal when needed & hold off his marker. The ability to use his strength & hold of the marker was used to good effect against Strum Graz. Daka was able to drop into his own half leaving his CF partner on the halfway line & take the ball in contact as per the below. In this instance, as he controls the ball the defender is drawn into contact & commits a foul relieving pressure on Salzburg for them to reset their attack.

In another sequence of play, Salzburg played the ball into the wide left channel for Daka to use his pace to sprint onto the ball. As he receives the ball it’s then shielded from the defender before turning & playing into the open space. As the CM advance with the ball continuing the attack, Daka has turned onto the back of the FB moving into his blind spot finding space free of a marker. Unfortunately, the move breaks down with the movement of Daka unnoticed at the back post. A similar situation came down the right hand channel where Daka uses his strength to shield the ball & roll his marker. With the marker unbalanced he advances into the right channel in a 3v3 situation. Rather than trying to compete in the 1v1 his switches the ball across the field demonstrating his vision as he looks to create an overload in the inside left channel.

Daka’s ability to find spaces to receive the ball is highlighted below where he creates an overload in the inside left channel. As Salzburg LW wins the ball in a 50/50 Daka anticipates this & drops into the space in front of the defense. He’s aware of the space behind the FB & plays a first time through ball for the LW to latch onto as the FB is caught unbalanced struggling to get into position.

Where Daka excels is utilising his pace with runs in behind the defensive line as he is able to break the offside trap & create shooting opportunities. As the example demonstrates below Daka once again has great positional sense to drop off the LCB & move into the channel between the CBs. With the LW advancing Daka looks to arc his run & sprint into space behind the LCB dragging the defensive towards their area. Once again Daka demonstrates his awareness & vision as he reviews that the defense has overloaded, but an opportunity for a 1v1 across the field.


Daka’s movement, positional awareness & intelligence in attacking situations is impressive. This was on full display against Strum Graz where his composure ensured the conversion of 3 chances all within an 11 minute spell. Each of his 3 goals demonstrated his attacking & finishing prowess. Daka was unfortunately to end the match with just the 3 goals with a 2nd half penalty being saved & another header ruled out for offside.

In the case of the his 1st goal Daka anticipates that the RCB has misjudged the flight of the ball & starts to sprint into the space behind the defence with them holding a high line. Once Daka starts his sprint the defenders are unable to match him stride for stride & accelerates very quickly onto the loose ball. As he approaches the area he slows the rate of his sprint & aware of the encroaching GK looking to close down the space. His confidence & composure sees him role the ball past the left hand of the GK into the empty net.

His second goal of the game clearly demonstrates his exceptional movement & ability to find space away from his marker. Daka initially is in the LW position as the Salzburg CF wins the ball in the opposition half & plays a pass into space for the RW to run onto. As the ball progresses Daka creates space for himself in the inside left channel & remains in the RBs ‘blind spot”, taking advantage of their attention being on the CF through the centre. As an early ball is delivered into the back post area Daka is free of any marker & has the time to watch the flight of the ball to position himself in the optimal position to strike on goal. His shot selection is perfect as he makes controlled contact with the ball using a diving header across the GK & into the bottom right corner. Not only is the header controlled in the amount of pace generated but also in his placement making it too difficult for the GK to save.

The 3rd highlighted once again the movement & anticipation of Daka as he consistently operates in the “what if?” scenario to place himself in scoring areas. Initially starting his run on the edge of the area at the set piece Daka drifts into the 6 yard area unmarked as his teammate rises to meant the delivery to head on goal.

Unfortunately for the attacker the ball connects with the post with the GK helpless to prevent it, but Daka anticipates where the ball could arrive. As the opposition defence is caught ball watching Daka moves past the defender marking the near post zone, where the ball ricochets off the post back across the face of the goal. Due to Daka’a anticipation & thinking of the “what if?” he finds himself unmarked with an open goal to tap home his 3rd of the afternoon.

The final point on his movement, tactical flexibility & awareness was demonstrated in the below passage of play. As Salzburg move to a 4-3-3 Daka becomes the centre point of the attack to which the front 3 play in a triangle to create overload opportunities & to link with the supporting midfield. With the RW collecting possession in the opposition half drawing the attention of the Strum Graz CDM, he plays the ball into the path of the RCM.

As this play is happening Daka is aware of the developing opportunity to exploit the space in behind the LCB & moves away from his marker. The attention of the CB is drawn towards the potential pass from Salzburg’s to RCM into the infield RW & moves to limit the space. The through ball is played into the space directly behind the LCB who is unaware of the movement of Daka accelerating beyond him. Unfortunately, with Daka clean through on goal his quickly taken shot on the edge of the area narrowly goes wide, but his movement & pace showed his intelligence off the ball.


Daka’s level of movement off the ball, awareness of how to exploit lapses of concentration & spaces in the defence make him a dangerous player in attack. His goal contribution of 30 goals & 7 assists is likely to increase further with 10 games to go of the season too. His level of composure in front of goal has seen him currently as the 3rd best scorer in world football under the age of 23 with only Mbappé & Haaland ahead in less minutes played.

When provided with the goal in sight Daka is very clinical & rarely needs clear chances to score. With his pace & movement his is a consistent threat to defences as he can stretch them out wide running into the channels or behind. Although he has great pace even if a defence isn’t playing a high line he is effective as intelligently operates in tight spaces with great anticipation. This summer there is likely going to be a lot of attention towards the 22 year old Zambian CF, & a wealth of options. Daka has all the attributes to be a great success in the EPL much like fellow Slazburg alumni Sadio Mané. Daka has the finishing ability to play at the top level within any of the top 5 European division & the tactical flexibility to operate in multiple formations or styles.

Scout Report: Abdallah Sima

Nationality: Senegal

Age: 19 (17.06.2001)

Club: Slavia Praha

Position: RW

Foot: Right

Matches: 28

Goals & Assists: 15 ⚽️ 4 🎯 

Slavia Praha is currently competing on 3 fronts with Quarterfinals in both the Czech Cup & Europa League as well as being 16 points clear in the race to be crowned Champions for the 7th time. On their way through the competitions, Slavia employs a high intensity tactic favouring a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation with a fluid interchanging of positions amongst the attackers.

Sima is having a breakthrough season for Slavia Praha in which he has shown very good form in both the Fortuna Liga & Europa League. His form has seen the Senegalese national team calling him up to the squad for the Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches against Congo & Eswatini. To date, Sima has made a single International appearance entering the field of play from the bench to complete his debut against Congo replacing Metz young starlet Pape Sarr.


Defensively when the press is initiated in the opposition half Sima looks to push high & with pace onto the opposition CB & FB. His objective is to close down the passing lanes applying pressure on the ball carrier attempting to force mistakes, slowing the attack or turn the play backwards. When the play develops into the channels Sima will move back into a covering position to protect his FB to ensure that there are limited opportunities for the opposition to create 2v1 situations. Where the opposition can create overlapping/underlapping opportunities Sima demonstrates a good level of determination & awareness to track the attacker close down the available space.

An example of his high press can be found below in the game against Rangers where Sima finds himself in the CF position. As the CAM for Slavia presses the Rangers deep lying CM, Sima acknowledges the press has been initiated & presses the Rangers CB. Sima anticipates that the CB is looking to turn back to goal & pass back to the GK for a reset on the attack, but the CB miscalculates the pace at which Sima is pressing

Due to the miscalculation, Sima can press the CB effectively & block the passing lane resulting in a turnover of the ball for Slavia. Due to the high press, this puts both Sima & Slavia in an advantageous position as he is left with space to not only retrieve the ball but attack down the channel & drive into the box. Unfortunately for Slavia, after Sima was able to round the defender & get into the box the pressure applied in contact he was unable to keep his balance. Subsequently, Rangers defence was able to recover their positions & possession of the ball clearing the danger.

When Slavia decide to sit deeper Sima drops back to support his FB & track runs from deep which may threaten the defence in behind. As per the example below; Sima drops into the defensive line after tracking the run of the attacker & adjudges the flight of the ball correctly to clear the ball from the area. As Ranger collect & recycle the 2nd ball they draw the Slavia FB & CM across creating space in the channel. The attacker produces an underlapping run to receive a pass into the channel, but Sima is tactically aware of his position & the situation tracking the run.

Initially, Sima slows down the attack as he reduces the space in the channel to attack & positions himself to challenge the attacker should he attack towards the byline. Sima does well in the situation by not diving into the tackle & backs himself to match the attacker for pace ultimately blocking the cross attempt. Sima demonstrates his defensive awareness & discipline to manage the situation when out of position preventing the creation of a scoring opportunity then clearing the danger too.

What’s encouraging is that when Sima makes a mistake in possession he will attempt to regain the ball or get back into shape to support his teammates. In the game against Rangers Sima misjudges his header into the path of his teammate & heads the ball directly to an unmarked opponent in the Slavia half. The attacker is aware of space in the channel as Sima sprints in to apply pressure, & passes to the overlapping FB. This leads Sima to change direction closing down space in the channel.

Unfortunately, Sima moves into position in the channel but doesn’t have the presence of mind to mediate his pace & get caught with too much speed leading to him being unbalanced. As the FB brings the ball inside Sima is unbalanced resulting in a poorly executed tackle attempt leaving him out of position. Fortunately for Slavia, although the final defensive effort from Sima left him beaten easily with space in behind the channel Rangers were unable to take advantage of the situation.

Sima can improve on his timing in the tackle as well as regulating his pace as he moves into pressure the opposition. The output of this more measured & calculated approach to defensive situations would see a great output in these situations. That being said his pace is a valuable asset when tracking runners or in a flat race against the attacker in open play.


Sima is a confident player on the ball happy to travel at pace whilst in possession where he demonstrates good balance & control in contact with decent strength. Sima’s good balance & agility enables him while moving at pace to decrease his speed rapidly before changing direction quickly causing the defender to lose balance. The ability to turn sharply ensures that the defender is unable to effectively centre themselves before turning, which in turn can lead them to be out of position in the challenge.

Primarily Sima dribbles with the ball down the channels using his pace to exploit any space behind the defensive line as he looks to link play or operate on the shoulder of the defender. Sima’s dribbling style is very direct & looks to attack the defensive line & commit the opposition. Whilst travelling with the ball Sima is not the type to try many skills or feints against the opponent & favours utilising his pace to expose his opponent.

The games against Rangers illustrates this preference to be more direct in his running with the ball. In the below, Sima drops deep to receive the ball in the channel between the FB & CB drawing the CB across to create space centrally. Once he receives the ball Sima plays a 1-2 with his teammate in the RW position, taking advantage of the space behind the FB.

Sima utilises his pace to exploit the space created behind the FB who was drawn to the ball after his layoff. Once Sima reaches the pace he sprints to the edge of the area before altering his pace to slow down the defender before moving to the byline. The decision making from Sima slowing the defender is good as this removes their forward momentum in the duel. Additionally, it provides Sima with the opportunity to use his acceleration & movement against the defender in an attempt to unbalance them with a change of direction or burst of speed.

Sima demonstrates his awareness to understand that there is space in the area to drive into, also that his teammates will attract defenders as they move into the near & far post positions. As Sima pulls the ball back from the byline he unbalances the defender creating the space to move into a dangerous position in the area where he has runners in space arriving late on the edge of the area. Unfortunately, Sima’s pass lacks the accuracy or direction that it should provide his teammates with a shooting opportunity. Instead of passing to the edge of the box for the attacker to run onto the ball, Sima passes too shallow. This pass ensures the Rangers defender can step across cutting out the pass, removing what should have been a dangerous situation & shooting opportunity.

Another example against Rangers can be found (below) in the home leg where Sima receives the ball in the outside left channel as Slavia transitions quickly into attack. Sima could play a simple pass into the path of his teammate on his right shoulder but makes the correct decision to back himself against the defender. Had Sima made the pass the Rangers FB & CDM were in positions to press quickly which could have resulted in a turnover of possession. Sima instead bursts into the open space in the channel showing great pace to accelerate ahead of the FB. He can ride multiple attempts from the FB to unbalance him in contact by using his strength to stand tall & shield the ball as he progresses.

Sima as he progresses to the edge of the area has the foresight to understand he can be pressured in a 2v1 situation if he continues to progress towards the byline. At this point, Sima slows his pace to draw in the chasing FB so that he can attempt to change direction quickly taking advantage of their intent to win the ball & forward momentum. Sima successfully pulls the ball back onto his favoured foot before moving inside. The move inside compacts the Rangers defence to the width of the area & creates space in the channel, opening up multiple passing plus attacking opportunities for the Slavia LB as they receive the ball.

Whilst Sima demonstrates great pace moving with the ball & has the ability to exploit defenders drawn out of position he does still have areas to improve upon. His control in contact & open play is good, but when moving the ball out of his feet his technique can fail him.

As Sima looks to accelerate his preference is to push the ball out from his feet, but has a heavy touch in these situations where there is space to exploit. The result of his heavy touch of the ball means the ball is pushed too far in advance of himself which provides the defence with the opportunity to regain possession.

Link Play

Slavia plays with a very fluid & dynamic attacking 3 or 4 with inverted forwards to narrow the attacking line to create space in the channels for the advancing FBs. The highly rotational dynamic of the system ensures that the inverted forwards are provided with the freedom to roam infield creating overloads centrally.

Sima is comfortable to drop deep & play with his back to goal taking control of the ball before laying off into either his strike partners, FB or CM to retain possession in attack, before moving into space. As Slavia attack, the front 3 looks to play closely together where possible to create passing triangles so that they can link together in an attempt to support each other & disrupt the defensive line. Sima is a key point within the attacking triangle either as the ball carrier or supporting member.

In the match against Leicester, the attacking triangle was evident & effective in creating spaces for Slavia to attack by narrowing the defensive line. As per the below after a restart, Sima finds himself central with the front 3 creating a tight triangle with the CAM providing an additional option. As the attack is narrowed & concentrated on the right this creates open spaces on the left for Slavia to exploit which Sima is aware of.

Sima utilises the attacking 3 & RB to concentrate the Leicester defence on the right as they draw Leicester towards their area as they look to provide options in front of the defence or between the lines. This creates the space for Sima to move forward centrally & utilise the space he has to his left which is the correct decision as Slavia can exploit the defensive positions. Unfortunately, Sima’s pass has poor control & direction with two players in support of the attack, with the ball played into a position that cuts out both Slavia supporting players. As a consequence, a very promising attack is lost with the Leicester CAM intercepting the poorly placed pass as they track back relieving the pressure by passing to the GK to clear.

Whilst Sima’s overall passing does require improvement he does demonstrate good vision in attacking situations. As per the below Sima moves infield at the restart with the CF dropping deep to collect the ball & the attacking forming a tight triangle. With his back to goal, Sima receives the ball from the CF & controls moving forward to draw the press. The press narrows the defence further which provides Sima to create the space out wide for the RB who he switches the ball out to.

This pass leaves the Leicester LB to sprint into a position to pressure the RB in turn creating a large space between him & the CB. Sima is aware of the space & sprints in behind the Leicester LB linking the play with the Slavia FB stretching the opposition defence. Fortunately for Leicester, the defence was able to track Sima’s run & slow down his progression so that the midfield was able to recover offering support to stifle the dangerous attack.

Another example of his vision can be found in the below where Sima has moved infield to create an overload centrally & narrowing the defence for potential overlaps outside on the left. Sima spots the space between the lines & moves into a position to offer a passing opportunity to his teammate. As Sima retrieves the ball he has a couple of options available to him such as moving forward with the ball to play out wide, lay off to the CM but both options likely invite pressure onto himself or his teammate with covering defenders.

Sima is aware of the space behind the Leicester defence & opts to chip the ball over the defensive line for the RB to sprint onto. Unfortunately, Sima’s pass isn’t interpreted by the RB who had clear space to exploit unopposed with Leicester defenders preoccupied with the CF in an offside position. Had the pass been successful Slavia would’ve been in behind the defence with a dangerous crossing & shooting opportunity.

Movement & Attack

An example of his movement within the front 4-2-3-1 can be found below where the front 4 moves across to the left with 3 in advance of the LW ball carrier who drives infield. Once again you can see a very tight triangle form between the CF & the inverted wingers. The CAM draws the attention of the CB as they move diagonally to exploit the space between the CBs. This provides Sima the space he needs to slow his movement as the defensive line looks to restructure & cover the spaces between themselves. Once Sima receives the ball he is aware of the space in front of him as the defence backs away to regain their shape.

As the defence back away Sima is aware that options are limited & decides that striking for goal is the best option available to him. In doing so Sima demonstrates he can have good technique when striking the ball, as he hits it cleanly with little to no backlift directly into the bottom corner of the goal.

In attack, Sima does look to create problems for the defence & provide for his teammates by committing the opposition to defensive duels. As per the below, Sima engages the FB moving towards them drawing them in before changing direction & accelerating into space in the channel.

In doing so Sima engages the FB & draws across the CB as he approaches the channel to the left of the area, therefore creating a 2v2 situation in the area for his teammates. Sima is able to release the ball at the right time & find his teammate, but the Rangers LCB is able to contain the CF prevent them from turning for a shot on goal.

Where Sima needs to improve in attack is in his overall decision making, awareness & control which is at a decent level but can see opportunities squandered currently. As in the example below, Sima initially does well in moving across the area drawing his marker, opening up space between the defence & midfield. As he receives the ball he is aware of his marker & uses his body to disguise his intentions by feinting left, but then taking the ball to the right unbalancing his marker. At this point, Sima makes a poor choice by ignoring the pass between the midfield to the CF who in turn had an overlapping FB on the left. There was also a pass infield to the CAM or an option for a deep cross into the far post area with an attacker unmarked. Instead, Sima took a poorly executed shot where he sliced across the ball sending it high & wide to the right with the RB preventing a throw to Rangers.

In the example below Sima once again demonstrates how effective he is playing with his back to goal taking control of possession under pressure from the opposition CB. He does well to roll the challenge & whilst moving at pace beat the pressure from the CDM to advance into the centre circle. This is where Sima makes his miscalculation as to the best course of action as he drives forward concentrating on the space in the inside ride channel, but this is closed off by the LCB & LCDM as they converge on Sima. Had Sima released the ball earlier with a back heel to the supporting Slavia attacker before moving into this area Rangers could have been exposed in the left hand channel due to the overlapping FB.


Abdullah Sima is proving to be an exciting talent turning in performances that belie his age & experience. He has exceeded all expectations in his maiden season in both the Fortuna Liga & Europa League leading the scoring charts for Slavia in both competitions. In turn, his impressive form has seen the Senegal national team recognise his talent & now part of the full national team. His development over this season has been meteoric drawing attention across Europe with the likes of PSG touted. At only 19, Sima is showing signs that whilst he is best suited to an inverted forward position currently he does have the potential to operate more centrally as a focal point in the attack.

Sima currently suits the free roaming flexible role of the inverted forward as it enables him to explore the spaces between the line & channels. The role makes use of his speed to beat the FB & drive Slavia upfield, whilst Sima does have good strength as a central figure could currently struggle against more physically developed defenders. In the inverted forward role his lack of accuracy & precision when passing is compensated as he is afforded more support than when in a lone role. His overall passing & decision making with the ball does need to improve to move onto an elite level of competition as currently, this does result in wasted opportunities in attack. 

Sima can find space due to being spatially aware & astute in his movements to drop from his marker or provide a willing run behind the defensive line. Where he excels in the role is in his “predatory” instinct which could see him in time transition to a central role. This has been evident in his clinical finishing throughout the season scoring with either foot or his head in open play & set pieces. His willingness to attack the space or arrive in the opposition area ensures he is presented with plenty of opportunities to shoot. Sima has then demonstrated unerring composure & accuracy when the chance presents itself.

Sima still needs to refine many areas of his game to move to the level of compatriot Sadio Mané but the signs are promising & has a bright future. This summer could be huge for his Sima with a move likely, any destination would need to be offering guaranteeing minutes to continue his development.