RECRUITING FOR BIRMINGHAM CITY

The season has been put on hold for circumstances out of are control but if we restart or not one thing that will have a lot of people’s eyes is the transfer window when it opens with one high profile transfer in the English window being sixteen-year-old Jude Bellingham, having major clubs interested in the young talent with the likes of Dortmund and Manchester United to name a few.

This blog will be based on the specifics of how City can change the culture of the club and how they reinvest some of the significant amount of money they will receive into improving the team tremendously with some shrewd signings. First, I break down the style of how the team plays and suggest requirements and a style of football that benefits the club and players moving forward.

Style and Roles

The team under Pep Clotet have predominantly being played in a 4-4-2 compact formation that presses high up the pitch with Jutkiewicz being the first to engage. Then his partner more recently Hogan shifting to press on the full backs. The midfield is quite compact with the wingers pressing when forward line pushes. Once the midfield line is broken from the opposition attacking out wide, the full backs Pedersen and Colin push up to press allowing the centre backs to cover them and also the centre midfielders to drop back into the space.

In the passing side of the team is more direct playing style, this shows in only averaging 46% ball possession as a team so far this season with the focus on the central defenders wasting no time in getting the ball up the pitch with long balls to forwards or majority of the time playing balls out wide to the creative midfielders and overlapping fullbacks. This has shown to be somewhat effective with 15.23 crosses per 90 and adding that they sit 3rd highest in the league with 10.13 progressive runs per 90.

When in attack there are two different roles the wingers play in Clotet’s system, having his left winger coming inside to become the number 10 and join in the attack with his two strike partners. This also allows his full backs to join in with link up play and his right winger being the out and out winger trying to go behind the oppositions back line. These roles are critical to the attacking play of the team because he likes his fullbacks to be a threat. This shows up in both Colins and Pedersen stats that they have 12 combined assists and goals.

Having his two central midfielders playing different roles with Sunjic being the “enforcer” and breaking the attacking plays up with laying of simple passes to the more creative midfielders. The other centre midfielder usually Bellingham or Gardner being a consistent part of the team that help in the pressing side of the game in engaging the opposition when they are trying to play through the middle. They also push forward in helping attacks with overlapping runs from deep also providing a link between defence and attack by performing a wide array of tasks while Sunjic usually stays deep and anticipates counter attacks.

His two center forwards play different roles but also working in a cohesive partnership with Jutkiewicz being the target man when using his physicality to disrupt the opposition defense and having long balls played up to him. He attempts to bring the midfield and attack into play by dropping deep into space and laying simple balls off to teammates. Hogan likes to drift around, looking for space to provide a extra passing option that intern confuses the opposition defence. This provides Hogan to being allowed to sit on the shoulder of the last defender, latching onto through balls and staying in the box to put any chances away coming in his area.

(The best starting 11 from the season)

BIRMINGHAMS POSITIONAL AND SYESTEM REQUIRMENTS

To start this process you have to get a sense of how the club wants the philosophy of the football to be and making it the identity of Birmingham City going forward. In an interview with Birmingham Mail, Pep Clotet come out with these comments on the style of play in pre-season July 2019:

“Like trying to be solid, trying to establish good counter-attacks, having a good set-play system. We worked a lot on finishing. We cannot go away from any of that. They are our fundamentals. Obviously, we have to keep growing and evolving these characteristics”.

I picked out some key stats for the team that has had a mixed season so far:

  • Scored 48 goals- This season with only 2 goals scored from counter attacks (sitting 14th in table of goals scored) of the 48 goals 17 of them where due to set pieces (3rd best in the league).
  • Conceded 57 goals- Having the (6th most conceded goals) in the league its evident that this season Birmingham have struggled in the defensive department.
  • 46.8% possession-This can also be said about the team not being able to keep possession in games (5th bottom of clubs in Championship).

Obviously, the manager has had great success in the set piece department but improving in other departments would clearly be beneficial. To do this I would suggest changes to the formation and style of play of the team because watching Birmingham it seems to be a perfect quote for this team “square pegs for round holes”.

They have potential top championship players at the club they just need to be put in a system that suits their best attributes. This will insure it won’t make such an impact once the coaching staff leave. Therefor the club can bring in a new manager that suits your already made style. These are the suggested improvements that I think would get the best out of the playing squad and something that fans could get behind.

TACTICS

  • Changing formation to 4-1-4-1/4-3-3.
  • Passing style of patience and creativity in attacking movements.
  • Pressing from front high tempo.
  • Pushing fullbacks up pitch.
  • Playing out of defence.
  • Focus play through middle/overlapping fullbacks.
  • Improve possession percentage with slower build up play.

TEAM REQUIRMENTS

Having got the specific needs of the team I have produced profiles of players in to three categories, targets for future investment and recruiting low-cost value for first team starters that have sell on value in seasons to come and finding key loan signings.

FIRST TEAM RECRUITS

Daleho Irandust

 Age: 21 Nationality: Sweden

Position: Winger/Attacking Midfielder Club: BK Häcken

Overview

The recent Swedish international has been making waves in his home country with his performances. He has predominantly been played in number 10 role in between the oppositions midfield and defence making himself available for his teammates to get the ball to his feet. Turning on a ten piece he can lift his head and pick out the defence splitting pass. He shows that he is no slouch in helping in his defensive duties with winning 51.5% of them when playing as a winger with pressing the opposing fullbacks to win the ball high up the pitch to create crossing opportunities or a pass.

 Irandhust has very good technical ability running at opponents or receiving the ball in the final third completing 45.1% of his dribbles. Having been deployed as a right winger he is used in an inside forward role which is where is best abilities are prominent, cutting inside from the flanks and running directly at pace making surging progressive runs into the penalty box with 3.13 per 90 with fast direction shifts looking like a young Mesut Ozil keeping the ball tight to his left foot. Daleho also provides his team dynamism in his off the ball movements finding the best space to receive the ball and linking up with his full back or his centre forwards creating 5 assists and scoring 4 goals for his team.

Fitting the Model

Daleho Irandust will provide a much-needed creative influence from out wide for Birmingham City with end product. Giving the fact he is already a full international and adding the low value of £2.5million his club is asking for it would be no surprise if Birmingham did complete this transfer. It could well be the bargain of the window and would potential make the club more than treble on this investment in the next couple of seasons.

System Fit

This season Irandust has been given two roles in the Hacken set up being a 4-3-3 and one of the roles is being the number 10 of the team, drifting into space to become the attacking outlet for his team creating opportunities for the team in breaking the oppositions defence. He has also been played on the winger as a inside forward and this I think is his best position, with the way he sees the game and having him come in side he could create a very good partnership on the right side with Colin making the runs into the space Daleho will create.

Lewis Ferguson

Age: 20 Nationality: Scotland

Position: Centre Midfield Club: Aberdeen

Overview

The box to box midfielder has been one of the stand out performers this season in Scottish football. A dynamic footballer who uses his abilities to contribute in defence helping his side with 56.6% winning of his defensive duels, also adding he aggressively closes down his opponents in winning the ball back with 4.15 interceptions per 90.

Ferguson uses great technical skill having completed 50% of his dribbles when running from deep in midfield and in tight spaces creating chances for himself also assisting other team mates in the final third with 4 assists. The scots man shows he is very adaptable to play in a deep-lying playmaker role, operating between defence and midfield he has shown how comfortable he is in playing long pinpoint passes to players in the final third hitting 47.3% accurately.

Fitting the Model

Lewis for the reported value that Aberdeen have put on him would be a steal for a player of his age, showing his trajectory is on the rise and potentially a very good replacement for the gap Bellingham will leave. I’m sure he would become a fan favourite already having connections with the club in his uncle Barry Ferguson so it seems like the perfect step for him to take at this point in his career.

System Fit

Aberdeen have this season played predominantly in a 4-2-3-1 and Ferguson’s role which has him switching between 2 roles in this system either playing as the box to box midfielder playing higher up pressing opponents or playing more of a deeplying-playmaking role. The best fit in the system is he could play very well with Sunjic behind him giving him the licence to go hunt for the ball and joining in attacks or if the team want to play more attacking could drop in the number 6 to be able to dictate the play.

Luke Woolfenden

Age: 21 Nationality: England

Position: Centre Back Club: Ipswich Town

Overview

Standing 6ft 4″ Woolfenden come back from his season long loan at Swindon last year and has shown all the capabilities of being a highly promising defender. Comfortable bringing the ball out of defence with either foot averaging 9.48 progressive passes per 90 and hitting diagonal long balls across the pitch averaging 7.43 per 90. His strongest assets are his defending abilities having 68.9% of defensive duels won with 5.66 interceptions per 90. Showing he has the positional awareness to sniff out the danger dropping back seeing forward runs or passes and can also press opposition high coming out of defence.

Fitting the Model

Luke would give the team versatility in the fact he has not looked out of place in playing 6 games in a full back position. Giving the lack of centre backs at Birmingham Woolfenden with Ipswich allowing him to leave in repots for £3million and only being twenty one, he possess the necessities needed for the team to be a lot more assured at the back and with Marc Roberts being a senior player it would be beneficial in Luke’s development in progressing at the club.

System Fit

The systems he has been placed in at Ipswich have varied a lot but the main formations have been between a 4-4-2 and more recent in the second part of the season in a 3-4-1-2 set up. The role given to Woolfenden in playing in a partnership is to be the ball playing centre defender and this would be a key part in how Birmingham could build from the back with him starting attacking plays to break the opposition down.

Tymoteusz Puchacz

Age: 21 Nationality: Poland

Position: Winger Club: Lech Poznan

Overview

The polish U21 international is one of many highly regarded prospects coming out of Poland in this generation. Powerful in his attacking style of play with running in the oppositions final third with 2.39 progressive passes per 90. With the ball at his feet the only aim is to beat his man on the outside and drive to the by-line with producing 2.39 crosses per 90. When playing in his role as a winger he presses his opposing full back to win back high up the pitch and creates opportunities for team mates with a quick cross or pass.

His versatility puts him ahead of others in his age group being able to play on either flank with cutting inside from the right side or being an out an out winger on the other, showing he is very effective in taking on opponents with 56.04% being successful. When playing as a full back he is very consistent and defends and attacks on the flank making dangerous overlapping runs into attacking areas without compromising his defensive duties which he has successfully won 55.56% of them.

Fitting the Model

The attributes Puchacz has suits the English game very well, the power and directness he shows in his game would cause a lot of championship sides a lot of issues. With a potential transfer value of £3million-£4million the investment in this transfer is perfect for the model that I am trying to create for Birmingham.

System Fit

Puchacz has been playing in a Lech Poznan system of 4-2-3-1 being the left side of the three and playing the role of a out and out winger with him being attack minded in the final third producing crosses and passes into the box. The versatility in his game has also given him the role of being on the other side of being the inside forward and playing at fullback position. This would be a major asset to a Birmingham side that will be reducing its playing squad even more this window, being his main role as a left winger in the side he has the ability to cover other team members weather injured or when the manager feels he would be suited better in other positions than players under-performing.

Mirko Maric

Age: 24 Nationality: Croatia

Position: Centre Forward Club: NK Osijek

Overview

The Bosnian born man comes alive in the penalty box with brilliant running off defenders for team mates to find simple passes to him. With 39 goals in his last two seasons and producing a 0.6xG per 90, Maric for the last two seasons at Osijek has become a goal scoring machine of the division winning the golden boot. Mirko has shown in his performances that he is a complete forward holding the ball up waiting for his team mates to join him in the final third, adding the fact he also likes dropping deep into space to link up with midfield and turn trying to find the space between the lines.

The surprising thing about Mirko is he has the pace to run the channels for his team and stretch the oppositions backline hitting 2.33 crosses per 90. For a man who stands at 6ft 2″ and having balls played to his feet he shows how technically very good he is with using his frame a physical attribute to hold off his opposition, creating the space needed to turn and dribbling past successfully completing 48.8%.

FITTING THE MODEL

Mirko Maric is the perfect replacement if Jutkiewicz leaves the club this summer. Having out grown the Croatian league it would be a very good investment with reports suggesting he is available at £3million. If he carries his form into the Championship it would be hard to see at his age any striker getting close to what he can produce for many seasons.

System Fit

Playing in an interesting formation in a 3-4-2-1 Maric is the focal point of the attack, playing the number 9 with many roles in the system being a target man to poacher he has thrived over the last two seasons. The two systems I have suggested would show the best strength Maric has, dropping deeper to allow Puchacz or Irandust to run in behind and creating a partnership with playing one twos allowing Crowley to run at the defenders or pick him out with a defence splitting ball.

Chima Okoroji

Age: 22 Nationality: England

Position: Left Back Club: Jahn Regensburg (Loan from Freiburg)

Overview

The Bayern academy graduate has been enjoying life in the German second division. Okoroji showing in his performances he is becoming a very good modern-day fullback having confidence in his ability going forward in his progressive overlapping runs down the left side averaging 2.61 per 90.

The other side to his game is he doesn’t shy away from his defensives duties with winning 58.2% and showing he is strong in the tackle hitting 5 interceptions per 90. A strength that Chima has shown this season is his abilities in set pieces giving his team an added threat. He isn’t just a danger from dead ball situations. His abilities in finding a man in open play has produced 3.32 crosses per 90. The technical side to his game with receiving the ball in his own half and having the ability to run and beat his man in 1v1 dribble is one of his strongest attributes acquiring 3.13 per 90 and successfully completing 54.8%.

Fitting the Model

Having one year left on his contract at Freiburg it is the sort of under value signing that this model is looking for. The team would get a ready-made replacement if Pedersen decides to try his luck at a higher level,the perfect situation on a financial side. Chima has shown he has a very high ceiling in his fledgling career and giving him the right environment, Okoroji would develop into a very good fullback in this country and wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the international stage with Nigeria trying to acquire his services due to the fact his dad is from the country.

System Fit

Jahn Regensburg have been playing in a 4-4-2 (double 6) with the full backs providing the width of the team and Okoroji has played very well in this system. Bringing these attributes to the style and formation I suggest would be very beneficial to who his wing partner is with him linking up well with under-lapping or over-lapping runs. Obviously, he will have more defensive responsibilities giving he will only have just one defensive midfield covering the space he has left. Chima needs time to adjust to the league and still giving him the opportunities to contribute in attacking situations.

FUTURE INVESTMENTS

Valentin Mahaila

Age: 20 Nationality: Romania

Position: Winger Club: Universitatea Craiova

Overview

The interesting prospect from Romania has been highly praised this season from many in the country. The powerful runs and arriving late into the box from his more favored left side having really caught the eye with him scoring 12 goals and 2 assists in all competitions.

His addition to the team would be very beneficial for a season to acclimatize to the league coming off the bench and playing cup competitions. Mahaila could develop into a top 5 league player in few seasons playing in a tough league like the Championship would be a very good investment with reports coming out the club that they will be seeking around £4 million for a player who could bring the club a windfall of a transfer like Bellingham in the near future.

Aaron Hickey

Age: 17 Nationality: Scotland

Position: Left/Right Back Club: Hearts

Overview

The young Hearts player has shown an attitude and showing mutuality beyond his years this season with some fantastic displays of him running forwards creating attacking threats with his crossing abilities and overlapping runs.

The dynamic Hickey can play either full back roles and surprisingly strong with either foot and solid at the back with some impressive stats this season, one of them being him winning 60.7% of his defensive duels. Aaron would be a fantastic option from the bench this coming season and with a transfer of just £1 million it shows how low the financial low risk with adding when the time comes for Maxime Colin to leave the club, Birmingham would have the perfect replacement to take over the role.

Vladan Kovacevic

Age: 21 Nationality: Bosnia

Position: Goalkeeper Club: Sarajevo

Overview

The highly regarded goalkeeper from his home country Bosnia has come on the radar from his performances in the UEFA Champions league qualifying games against Celtic and Bate in the Europa League. Sarajevo weren’t much of a match for the Scottish giants but the composure and commanding from the back that 6ft 4″ Kovacevic showed in the matches were very pleasing to the eye with facing 27 shots and only conceding 7 in the four games played.

 Vladan’s ball distributions having been very good averaging 7.11 long passes per 90 and completing 69.5% of them. Another one from a league that isn’t on many clubs agenda but Kovacevic could be the future keeper for Birmingham, if getting a work permit passed with a low risk value of around £1 million to get him through the door and adding to the fact Lee Camp could leave the end of the season and Truman not being trusted by the manager having started the season.

Dusan Stojinovic

Age: 19 Nationality: Slovenia

Position: Centre Defender Club: Celje

Overview

Stojinovic would have gone under a lot of radars of clubs with coming from a league that doesn’t get looked at for prospects but this under 21 internationals caught the eye on many occasions. Comfortable can play on either side of a two or anywhere across a three.

The young Slovenia has shown he could mix it at a higher level with playing against England and Portugal u21 teams with solid performances in both. There haven’t been many reports suggesting what his value currently is but coming from a league that isn’t necessarily a catchment area for top 5 leagues it wouldn’t surprise me if city could get a deal for around the £2 million mark and if this could happen it would be a very shrewd transfer for the blues to take advantage.

(SUGESTIONS FOR LOAN/FREE TRANSFER SIGNINGS IF NEEDED)

  • Albian Ajeti (CF)- West Ham (Add if reinforcements needed in Centre Forwards)
  • James Garner (CM)-Manchester United (Add if Boyd-Munce/Stirk get loans)
  • Stephy Mavididi (CF)-Juventus (Add to centre forwards if Adan George loaned)
  • Johnathan Panzo (CB/LB)-Monaco (Replacement if Steve Seddon leaves)
  • Wes Foderingham (GK)-Rangers (Lee Camp doesn’t sign new contract)

FUTURE AMBITION AND BUDGETING

Birmingham City’s board and fans have the ambitions of ending the run of 10 years of none top flight football since the days of Alex McLeish. Times have changed with Birmingham struggling in recent seasons only in some cases escaping relegation on the last day that also includes a nine-point deduction given over breaching EFL rules.

Financially they have tried putting money into the team when Gianfranco Zola and after him Harry Redknapp where given money to strengthen the squad. Together they spent £31.2million in the years of 2017-2018 recording losses of £37.5million. this came about due to the fact that the wage bill risen from £22million to near £38million after a huge number of 14 players where bought.

Last season Birmingham made a profit of £12million in transfers due to the fact they sold their prize asset Che Adams to Southampton for less than what his transfer cost should have been. The situation that will help is the club getting the suspected transfer money of near £50milllion potentially coming this transfer window. This will give the club breathing space from FFP AND EFL rules.

They can’t keep to the same model of spending big money on players aged between 26-30 with no sell on value and signing players on loan who have big wages. If players become available of this age group it has to be financially viable with little risk and a logical signing to benefit the squad.

The investment that the project I have put in place would need the board to re-invest in the region of £20million to spend on new playing staff with going off the projected figures in the selling of players the profit of around £30million in transfer fees would be a significant figure for the club.

The future solution that would be suggested is to take an approach in the market of looking for players in the age group of (19-24) with key investments into smart loan signings and lesser known younger talents across Europe. This will have higher risk factors but ultimately they will have increased transfer value over the coming seasons and bring sustainable revenue into the club for it to progress in the league.

There is also the issue of the wage bill with having over the last season payed £32.8million. This strategy will help the club in the issue of reducing the wages with having players coming from lesser known leagues and lower league competitions. It’s quite clear the club cannot sustain the rate of spending it has done over the years having reports come out over the last 10 years with a total income of £297million with player costs coming to £325million. That is not sustainable and the project I am proposing is the best viable option to keep this club potentially going under and give it the right structure it needs to progress on the pitch and off it for many years to come.

CONTRACTS AND SELLING PLAYERS

This summer could be a very important window because it isn’t just the prospect of losing Bellingham they have 9 players leaving with 6 of them running out their contracts with 3 of the other players at the club on temporary basis.

Contracts Expiring:

  • Wes Harding (CB/RB) Expires 2020.
  • Craig Gardner (CM) Retiring.
  • Kerim Mrabti (AM) Wouldn’t take up option.
  • Kieftenbeld (CM) Expires 2020.
  • Jefferson Montero (LW) Loan expires.
  • Clarke-Salter (CB) Loan expires.
  • Maghoma (LW) Expires 2020.
  • Johnathan Grounds (LB) Expires 2020.
  • Lee Camp (GK) Potential contract renewal.

Potential Sales:

  • Kristen Pedersen (LB)- (£10m value).
  • Lukas Jutkiewicz (CF)- (£6m value).
  • Harlee Dean (CB)- (£2.5m value).
  • Jude Bellingham (CM) (£35m+ value).
  • Josh McEachran (CM) Surplus to requirements, loan or sell.

Reports in January linked another couple of star players in Kristian Pedersen and Lukas Jutkiewicz with a move to Watford and Nottingham Forest after having very good seasons so far.

The fact Harlee Dean hasn’t had a great season though had lower championship sides interested in his services in January. This can be seen as great for the club adding more to the budget but also giving the headache to the backroom staff of finding more replacements for first team players. Unfortunately, this club will have no choice but to have another major summer transfer window of a lot of turnover of players incoming and outgoing.

Potential Loans:

  • Connal Trueman (GK)
  • Geraldo Bajrami (CB)
  • Jack Concannon (AM)
  • Odin Bailey (SS)

The club should implement routes for the academy players to first team with all age groups at the club playing the same style of football that the first team have implemented. This will benefit massively if the current manager ever left the club it wouldn’t have any effect on the academy system. Adding loans to teams who play similar or find teams who would suit the attributes of the player.

Another solution would be creating partnerships with teams in lower leagues of England or in Europe that would give opportunities to the players to develop in league competitions with older players. The example I would use is Chelsea and Vitesse Arnhem with many of Chelsea’s academy graduates going through the route of spending a year in Holland.

CONCLUSION

The club needs to have some stability over the next coming seasons with many players coming and going with some very poor decisions from board level in past seasons. The club have tried like many other clubs have done to throw as much money at the situation and hope some of it sticks. The report and structure I have put together in my opinion would be the best decision to stable the club in the league and get a good revenue stream through buying and selling the types of players I have suggested.

 It won’t necessarily bring overnight success because football doesn’t work like that but it could however put pieces in place for the club to not have to hoard out the volume of players it has been every season. Over the course of a five year plan it would be ideal for the club to be buying and selling two or three players with having this system in place. This would be easier to find specific needs of the team and give Birmingham the advantage over other teams in the competition who don’t take the approach of not having a similar plan in place and picking up players who don’t fit the style or create a financial burden on the club.

SCOUTING SOUTH AMERICA: URUGUAY “La Celeste”

Image result for uruguay la celeste wallpaper

Uruguay home to the second smallest population of South America has produced two World Cup and four Copa America winning teams in its time. Being a hot bed of football talent with producing some of the most recent players like Edison Cavani, Luis Suarez and Diego Godin.

This scouting journey will lead us through Montevido the capital which hosts the majority of teams in the league like the two most famous clubs in Uruguay, Peñarol and Nacional that have produced some of the finest Uruguayan players in modern history. I always take pleasure in keeping my eye on this country and I’m confident in the young players that I have found are some of the best emerging talent of La Celeste.

Honourable mentions: Juan Gutierrez- Danubio FC. Ignacio Laquintana- Defensor Sporting. Facundo Waller- Plaza Colonia. Luciano Boggio- Defensor Sporting. Juan Ignacio Ramierz- Liverpool. Agustin Oliveros- Racing.

Facundo Pellistri

Age: 18 Club: Penarol

Position: Winger

Overview

One of the top prospects in Uruguayan football, Pellistri has had a breakout season with his boyhood club. Technically gifted going forward Facundo is no stranger to hard work in his defensive duels tracking runners and helping his full back out he has won 58.9% of them. He can play on either wing and would play comfortably as a number 10.

The main threats Pellistri possess is his dribbling skills keeping tight control with a burst of acceleration he morphs his opposition into cones on a training pitch. This shows in his stats he is averaging 7.71 per 90 dribbles with 52.3% accurate. The positioning in games is very good, he shows his intelligence of the game by setting himself up just inside 10 yards between the midfield and defensive to create space and link up with his forward line but also when needed to he keeps himself wide and then cuts inside on either flank he is deployed, showing he has a good understanding of the game at such a young age.

He has so many qualities to behold but he can improve on his finishing, he has a tendency to snatch at shots when running at pace instead of relaxing and controlling the shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of Europe’s top teams aren’t looking at this emerging talent but with the attributes, he is showing at this early stage I would like to see him develop under a Diego Simeone stewardship at Atletico Madrid.

Key Stats: 1 Goal 2 Assists. 2.83 progressive runs per 90. 7.71 dribbles per 90 with 52.3%.

Douglas Matías Arezo

Age: 17 Club: River Plate

Position: Centre Forward

Overview

The first thing when you see Matias is the strength he has at a young age. Standing at 5’10 he has the structure of a mature man. Aggressive in his pressing defenders and enjoys the physical battles with defenders bouncing off him like a young bull vs a matador.

 Very good in every category of what you want in a striker. Links up well with team mates & shows strength and confidence in his ariel duels with some fantastic headed finishing. He could certainly improve on his finishing with just .37 expected goals, this shows in some cases leaning back on strikes in the box when the ball drops to him but funnily he isn’t afraid to take shots on outside the area with some imaginative efforts.

Arezo awkward style dribbling is very affective, bustling through his opponents. He likes to drop himself between the lines being the deep lying forward, creating space to turn or find some very good through balls to his strike partner. Also drags himself out to the channels where he smartly puts himself up against the fullbacks, creating panic between the back line which breaks the structure for when the centre back steps up to engage him or drops so he has momentum to run at the back line.

The upside of his potential is tremendous and hopefully he is the next superstar striker to come out of Uruguay, taking up the mantle of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani. The next step will come quicker than expected for Arezo. His style wouldn’t look out of place in Serie A, getting time on the ball and would handle the physicality of the league. Atalanta could be a very good destination, playing in 3-4-1-2 majority of games he would be a very good understudy to Duvan Zapata.

Key stats: 10 goals & 1 assists with .37 xG.

Nicolás Brian Acevedo

Age: 20 Club: Liverpool Montevideo Fc

Position: Defensive/Centre Midfield

Overview

The regista role Acevedo has thrived in with some exceptional performances for club and country. Dictating the tempo from deep positions, he is blessed with excellent vision to pick out teammates in more advanced areas of the pitch with 60% accuracy on his long range passing to 70% completion overall on his forward passes.

 Nicolas operates in the defensive midfield position, the young Uruguayan is a natural at intercepting and breaking up attacking moves but instead of just holding his position. Acevedo is also tasked with pressing his opponents when out of possession, he strives forward and strong in the tackle with 4.23 interceptions. Dribbling the ball away having completed 54.55% of his attempts, he can calmly find a pass to the final third under pressure shows his biggest asset he brings to the team.

A future leader of the Uruguayan national team in the making, it wouldn’t surprise me if he is already on top 5 leagues notebooks. He would be comfortable in many systems having played 5-3-2 or 5-4-1 for his club team. Having not replaced Frenkie De Jong it could be a shrewd signing for Ajax to fill the void left.

Key stats: 2 Assist with 48.65% completed on his 1v1 Dribbling. 11.07 Progressive Passes per 90 with 63.21% accurate on Long Passes.

Santiago Rodríguez

Age: 20 Club: Nacional

Position: Attacking Mid/Winger

Overview

Part of the many emerging talents in the country and in Nacional. Santiago has shown this season what he is all about, scoring six goals and 11 assists this season. He has been deployed on the wing but his main position is in the number 10 role.

Rodriguez is the main danger in the Nacional side, receiving the ball on the turn and progressing the ball up the pitch with speed with the eye to find the runners. The Uruguayan comes alive in the final third showing in his 11 assists have been created with the link up play with his striker, with some outstanding flick through passes or receiving the ball getting his head up and playing some smart pin point passes. Adding another string to his bow is his delivery in set pieces.

Majority of the time he is in sensational form but when he is deployed on the wing, he can have tendencies to run himself into cull de sacs. The next step for him will be Europe, hopefully a team like Porto who sets up in a 4-5-1 comes in for him so he could spear head in attack.

Key stats: 6 Goals & 11 Assists. 7.28 dribbles per 90 with 44.09% accurate.

Ezequiel Busquets

Age: 19 Club: Penarol

Position: Right Back

Overview

Having his second season in the first team for Penarol, Busquets could potential be your modern-day fullback, coming inside to be apart of the midfield but usually playing out wide creating the space for him to collect the ball in the final third and run with a burst of acceleration to dribble past his man to find a brilliant way of dropping a pin point cross into the box for a team mate to latch onto with a impressive 42.7% of them being accurate.

He fulfils his defensive duties very well winning 61.7% of his duels, adding to the fact he only stands at 5ft 9 he is no slouch in the air having great effect with 56.9% of his ariel duels won. The only real improvements I would like to see from Ezequiel would be on his progressive running but I think this would come if he was in a more attack minded side allowing him to progress more from his position.

It seems over the recent years a lot of the South American talent have taken their next step into the MLS, where I can see the talented right back going next. Los Angeles fc play in a 4-4-3 system allowing full backs to progress to where I can see him fitting in comfortable. He wouldn’t have no issues off the pitch settling in LA either having them already acquiring two Penarol graduates in Diego Rossi and Brain Rodriguez.

Key stats: .60 Progressive Runs per 90, 10.95 Progressive passes per 90 and Wins 57.36 of the Defensive Duels.

Image result for mathias laborda nacional

Mathias Laborda

Age: 20 Club: Nacional

Position: Centre Back

Overview

The inexperienced centre back has only made 10 appearances so far in his fledgling career but has not been out of place in his first season for Nacional. Laborda has recently been called up for the U23 national team, showing how much, he is well thought of in his home country.

He is brilliant at reading and positioning himself in the game with stepping up to pressure the attacker or covering his fullbacks when the ball has been placed over the defensive line, this shows in his interception’s stats where he averages 5.6 per 90.

Mathias isn’t a limited defender just clearing lines and hitting the ball out of play. He shows he is much more than that, comfortable bringing the ball out to break the lines to find a pass to the final third. It’s also surprising what shows up in his stats is he only makes 1.51 back passes per 90 so he only knows one thing and that is forward. Another skill he has is the danger he creates in the opposition’s penalty area from set pieces, having scored two goals in his first ten league games from corners.

Showing all the abilities to become a very good centre back in his career, I see similarities in his game as Diego Godin but he seems a lot more comfortable on the ball. If he is to begin a European career then Villareal will be looking for a long-term successor for Raul Albiol who is coming to the end of his career. Laborda would have no problem with adjusting to life and the style of play in La Liga.

Key stats: Wins 71.1% of his Defensive Duels, 5.6 Interceptions per 90 and Wins 58.5% of his Aerial Duels. 7.5 progressive passes per 90 with 61.71% accurate.

Manuel Ugarte

Age: 18 Club: Fenix

Position: Defensive Midfielder

Overview

Ugarte the defensive midfield maestro, will go underappreciated in the tireless work he puts in all round the pitch. He brings balance to his team providing support in defence but also helping the offence with recycling the ball and even when called upon to take a strike on from thirty yards he has produced two goals from that range. Possessing a natural ability of breaking the oppositions play and having an excellent read of the game. He mainly holds his position in front of the defence making 6.53 interceptions per 90 minutes, nullifying the oppositions attacking threats.

The other attribute that he has in his game is the passing range, from his long range switching to either flank and trying to cut a ball through the middle to a centre forward or seeing the gap between centre back and full back to allow the winger to run onto.

Manuel does seem to be more comfortable in a defensive role, showing versatility in his attributes that he would see him playing as a centre back in possibly a back four or being the middle centre back in a three.

The Fenix youth player has tremendous potential in his game that would stand in him good stead, which I’m sure will be a long and rewarding career ahead of him. There are two teams in La Liga that he would comfortably fit into that is Getafe’s 4-4-2 where Ugarte is already accustom to this tactical system in the U23 Uruguay team or being the protector of the defence in Sevilla’s 4-3-3 formation, knowing Fernando is expected to be replaced this summer.

Key stats: Wins 64.2% of the Defensive Duels with 6.53 interceptions per 90. 50.8% accurate on Long range passes and 9.11 Progressive Passes per 90.

Gonzalo Napoli

Age: 19 Club: Defensor Sporting

Position: Centre Midfield

Overview

Playing as a Number 8 on the left of a three in midfield for his club, Gonzalo has all the attributes to be a top box to box midfielder.  Showing his work rate to help in the attacking movement and in the defensive structure. The young sporting midfielder can comfortably receive the ball from the centre backs, he progressively runs with the ball into space and drags his team up the pitch fifteen or twenty yards even protecting the ball under pressure from opposition. He could also be deployed in a pivot role dictating the play with his long or short passing range being very good. The dribbling side of his game shows him to be quite skilful where he can easily get himself out of tight situations or take himself around an opponent.

Only nineteen Napoli has a lot of time to develop his game as well as the physical side of his game. To progress further in his career a trip to Serie A would suit the style of his play. Fiorentina could be the option with Gaetano future uncertain he would certainly slot into the 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 systems that the Viola play.

Key stats: 2 Goals & 1 Assist with 54.55% completed on 1v1 Dribbling. 4.99 Progressive Passes with 53.49% accurate on Long Passes.

BARGAIN U20 TALENT IN EUROPE

I set myself a challenge to find unknown young talented players across Europes vast football communities that aren’t the so called “top 5” best leagues. Searching high and wide from Denmark to Belarus. This blog has taken me round countries with untapped potential that top teams don’t necessarily look at. This experience has found me some brilliant niche players who potentially could make a step up in competition but first I set myself some rules for this exciting task.

  • Must be under the age of 20.
  • Had to be playing regular football for their respected teams.
  • They must have a starting value of less than £2 million.
Isaac Atanga

Age: 19 Position: Right Winger

Club: Nordsjaelland League: Superligaen

Value: £1.35m

Overview

Atanga had a good start to his debut season, the skilful Ghanaian scored in 3 consecutive games. Able to make effective runs into the box with very skilled finishes with his right foot. Creative at his off the ball movement, he finds the best space to receive the ball and running at his opponents or finding a team mate with a well-timed cross. Hopefully he can get a move to Belgium First Division but if this doesn’t materialise then a step in the league to Copenhagen wouldn’t be a bad move.

Key Stats: 5 goals & 4 assists. 1.87 progressive runs per 90 with 47.37% successful dribbles.

Jan Bernat

Age: 18 Position: Attacking Midfield

Club: Zilina League: Slovak Super Liga

Value: £400k

Overview

The best prospect in my opinion to come out of Slovakia since Marek Hamsik. This creative midfield playmaker can find that killer pass, adding to that his individual dribbling skills to go past players is very good. He links up well with team mates, making effective runs into the box and scores majority of his goals like this. Could comfortably play in either the 10 or 8 roles, showing the versatility he has at a young age. Would like to see him move on in the summer to a club like Ajax, where he can develop his skills very well and even get a loan move away for a season for regular first team games.

Key Stats: 5.24 progressive passes per 90, 48.6% successful dribbles. 7 goals & 1 assist.

Ladislav Krejci

Age: 20 Position: Defensive/Centre Midfield

Club: Sparta Praha League: Fortuna Liga

Value: £1.35m

Overview

Having only just moved to Sparta in the summer, he has certainly acquitted himself very well. Sitting in front and breaking up the play while protecting the defensive line. Ladislav has been the standout performer in the midfield this season. Standing at 6 foot 2, the young Czech’s style of play reminds me of a young Nemanja Matic. Hopefully he could take a similar route and develop his talent at a top team in Portugal.

Key Stats: 8.55 progressive passes per 90 & 67% completion on long passes. 2.03 progressive runs per 90.

Erik Sorga

Age: 20 Position: Centre Forward

Club: Flora League: Meistriliiga

Overview

Having scored 78 in 91 games for his boyhood club, the young goal machine from Estonia is more than capable of holding his own in a more competitive league. He has a real good knack of finding space in the area, with his finishing being clinical. Already a full international for his country making 6 appearances and starting in 4 of them. Sorga can link up well with his midfield very well, he showed this in a game against the Netherlands where he more than held his own against top international players. Only a year left on his contract come the summer, a move across to Sweden with Malmo could help with his development where he will surely be playing better competition.

Key Stats: 31 Goals & 4 Assists with 0.82 xG per 90.

Ilya Shkurin

Age: 20 Position: Centre Forward

Club: Energetik-BGU League: Energetik-BGU

Value: 675K

Overview

The centre forward was given the starting centre forward role after making a few appearances off the bench last season. After a slow start to the campaign, with scoring just 1 goal from 12 fleeting appearance’s, after this he went on a rampage and scored 17 goals in 17 games. Standing at 6 foot 2, he has been the perfect target man for his club. Holding up the ball for the midfield to join the attack and laying simple passes of to team mates. He is very aware of his positioning and also his off the ball movement, creating the space to run onto a through pass and an ever presence in the penalty area, being composed to finish smartly. It won’t be long before clubs in higher competition start to notice Ilya’s exploits, assuming the country’s biggest club BATE Borisov won’t sign him first.

Key stats: 19 Goals & 7 Assists with 0.74 xG per 90.

Vladyslav Vakula

Age: 20 Position: Left Winger

Club: FK Mariupol (loan) League: FAVBET Liga

Value: £700k

Overview

Signed in the summer by Shaktar Donetsk, Vakula is on his way to be a very promising forward. The ability to create 1 v 1 situations against defenders is in fact proven in the stat that he has the most 1v1 dribbles in the league with 122 attempts. Playing more of a inside forward, his main threat is to cut inside on his favoured right foot and open up the defence for team mates to run off him. When he does come into the middle, he is very creative and composed in his passing selection. The young Ukrainian has plenty of time to learn and develop his abilities and a loan away from his home country could be highly beneficial for his career. Potential destinations could be Turkey or Russia.

Key Stats: 3 goals & 1 assists. 2.18 progressive runs per 90 with 48.36% successful 1v1 dribbles.

Jan Sobocinski

Age: 20 Position: Centre Back

Club: Lodzki KS League: Poland. Ekstraklasa

Value: £315k

Overview

The left footed, 6-foot 1 Polish centre back has certainly shown he can play at a much higher level at this tender age. Sobocinski is very composed and strong on the ball, with an eye for a longball pass. He started all the games in the U20 world cup for Poland and also the Euro qualifier’s for U21 teams, performing very well in these competitions. His contract is up in the summer, he could be a very astute signing for clubs in Belgium or taking his talents to the second division in Germany.

Key Stats: Wins 67.03% of his defensive duels & 5.77 Interceptions per 90. 11.4 progressive passes per 90 with 47.67% long ball passes completed.

Radu Boboc

Age: 20 Position: Right Back

Club: FC Viitorul League: Romania. Liga

Value: £1.17m

Overview

The young Romanian under 21 has been a consistent performer for his boyhood club. Solid in his defensive duties but his main threat is to get himself forward and produce some good crosses for his team mates. His contract is up in the summer, where a move to a more competitive league is on the cards with bottom half clubs in the Eredivisie or Belgium First Division would be a nice step in the right direction.

Key stats: Wins 60.98% of his defensive duels & 5.33 interceptions. 1.22 progressive runs per 90 with 8.37 progressive passes per 90. Has 2 goals & 3 assists in 20 games this season.

Nika Ninua

Age: 20 Position: Centre Midfield

Club: Dinamo Tbilisi League: Erovnuli Liga

Value: £850k

Overview

The talented Georgian is his team’s captain at such a young age, showing he has maturity beyond his years. Box to box midfielder likes to arrive late in the area and judging by his goal scoring record he is pretty good at finding the back of the net. The other strong point to his game is his passing ability can find splitting defensive pass or long balls across the park, adding set pieces to his game as well. I’m sure it won’t be long before a club playing at a higher level will come calling. Judging by the majority of Georgia national team, I’d be surprised if his next move isn’t to the Russian Premier League

Key Stats: 8 goals with 7 assists, 10.08 progressive passes per 90 and 63.25% completion on long passes.

Emanuel Aiwu

Age: 19 Position: Centre Back

Club: Admira Wacker League: Austria. Bundesliga

Value: £900k

Overview

Talented ball playing centre back, could potentially be on his way to becoming a regular for Austria. He breaks the lines and carries the ball up the pitch for his team. Defensively he is very good at covering the defensive line and smart in his tackling always trying to stay on his feet. Unfortunately, he picked up a foot injury early in the season and missed 5 games but is back and has been a first team regular in his last 8 games. Would be nice for him to step up in level in his home country with RB Salzburg.

Key Stats: Wins 65% of his defensive duels and 5.26 Interceptions per 90 and 7.35 progressive passes per 90 with 60.94% long ball passes completed.

Lennart Czyborra

Age: 20 Position: Left Back

Club: Heracles League: Eredivise

Value: £1.8m

Overview

The young German has really caught the eye in his second season in Holland. Likes to progress up the pitch with the ball, consistently trying to get crosses in or passes into the forwards feet. Has got a really good strike on him scoring a terrific goal against Groningen. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him move on in the summer, potentially to a bottom half club in the German Bundesliga.

Key Stats: Wins 61.29% of his defensive duels & interceptions. 2.65 progressive runs per 90 with 7.18 progressive passes per 90. Has 2 goals & 2 assists in 18 games this season.

HIDDEN GEMS OF EUROPE|WINGERS

Name: Mustapha Bundu Age: 22 years old  

Country: Sierra Leone Club: AGF Aarhus

Height: 6’2

Best Attributes

  • Acceleration
  • Finishing
  • Dribbling
  • Strength
  • Technique

Overview

Leads the line and spearhead’s attacking moves for his team by both scoring and creating goals. Perfect examples of this is when he scored a hattrick against Aalborg, were Bundu gets into his stride he is impossible to bring back with his athletic style of running, striding away from his opponents. He is cool calm and collective bringing the ball into the area shifting the ball on to either foot and showing he is a natural finisher, side footing the ball into either corner of the goal.

The creative side of his game, was shown against FC Nordsjaelland. Picking the ball up in the final third, flicking the ball over an oncoming defender slid tackle and accelerates to hit the by-line, having a good understanding of where his teammates are, he gets his head up and cuts the ball across the eighteen-yard box to set his team mate with a goalscoring opportunity.

His physical side of his game is a massive benefit, holding off players while shielding the ball and using them to turn off and run into space, with quick counter attacks or holding the ball up as a wide target man to bring his team up the pitch. Putting all his attributes together it is no surprise he has been deployed in a centre forward role. Using his physicality to disrupt the opposition defence, he attempts to use his size to score and bring others into play. He doesn’t shy away from his defensive duties either consistently tracking his man into his own half and turns up in his own area, getting the ball away to safety. This shows Bundu’s versatility in his game.

Conclusion

Bundu has all the attributes and skills to play in the Primer League but unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to get a work permit. The league similar would lead him to the Bundesliga but before that comes calling a stint in the Belgium league for a Club Brugge or Genk would benefit his game massively, who love to use powerful and quick wingers in their systems. All signs lead Bundu to being a top winger and hopefully I see him plying his trade in one of the top leagues soon.

Key Stats: 5 goals, 7 assists, 4.72 dribbles per 90-61.4% success rate.

Name: Kevin Varga Age: 23 years old

Club: Debrecen Country: Hungary

Height: 5’10

Best Attributes

  • Dribbling
  • Set Pieces
  • Shooting
  • Pace

Overview

Varga has an excellent football brain, his abilities on the pitch show that everything he does is calculated to open up the opposition. He can play across the front three, comfortable as a winger to stretch the defence and help his team play wide or playing on the left cutting inside allowing full backs to push on. Some occasions played as a number 10, watching him play this position he consistently has his head up, seeing what unfolds in front of his eyes adding the link up play with team mates is very good, always searching for the strikers run. Even creating chances for himself to get some audacious long-range shots off.

Turning players inside out with his dribbling technique he is very comfortable with either foot. Never shying away from receiving the ball in the final third coupling that with him finding the space in between the lines of his opposition. Showing confidence in his abilities at squaring up his opponent to set himself up to run in side and take the shot on, seems to consistently have the goalkeeper stretching for a good save or ruffling the back of the net. His set pieces are a strong asset, especially free kicks scoring a few of his goals from dead ball situations, in particular

Conclusion

He shows all the attributes that he could play at a high level, potentially the Bundesliga. He has the physical capabilities to handle this tough league. Rangers would be nice place for him to start, fitting nicely into a club that plays a 4-3-3 system and should comfortably start in the team straight away, having an impact on them from day one.

Key stats: 4 goals, 3 assists, 4.3 dribbles per 90-59% success.

Name: Igor Ivanovic Age: 22 years old

Club: Napredak Country: Serbia

Height: 5’9

Best Attributes

  • Technique
  • Dribbling
  • Finishing
  • Movement

Overview

Ivanovic has been playing on the right side of a three, mainly operating in between the central defender and full back, the inside forward role as it called. He isn’t selfish surprisingly for a tricky winger, always looking for one two between him and the full back trying cute flicks into space. He is very affective in this area of the pitch cutting inside with his quick turn of foot, the effortless ability of getting his head up and seeing the picture infold, having the ability to switch flanks or playing passes through the defensive line.

Even though Ivanovic is very left foot dominate, the technical side of his game is his best weapon. He comes alive in the eighteen yard-box. Best example of this is with his progressive running, arriving in the box expertly timed with his teammate crossing the ball in he has finished it off with overhead kicks quite often some outstanding technique sending the ball past the goalkeeper.

Sometimes players have tricks but never with any purpose, in this case with Igor gathering the ball up in the opposition half, with his first touch the unpredictability he possesses allows him to open his body up, with a simple step over to a Maradona turn, sliding the ball through a players legs to get a shot off with precision or whipping the ball across the box, there always seems to be and end product in Ivanovic’s play.

Conclusion

Igor Ivanovic is a talented footballer who should be playing at a higher level, with his abilities on the ball. Being made captain of his football club at such a young age shows the level of maturity and professionalism he has. The mental side of his game should help massively with him settling into a new country and culture. With a team in the Eredivise, which find players like this that don’t cost a lot of money. This type of league would suit his style of play and develop him, going further into his career. This would be a perfect place to showcase his talents and hopefully from there he develops into a player a top five league would want.

Key Stats: 6 goals, 4 assists, 6.9 Dribbles per 90 61.3%

The Uruguayan Dynamo. #2

Name: Leandro Fernandez Age: 20

Country: Uruguay Club: Club Universidad de Chile (on loan)

Height: 5’6 Position: Attacking Midfielder

Strengths

Fernandez is a player that will have fans on the edge of their seats. His progressive running and technical dribbling ability are his best attributes. The way he glides past players with a drop of the shoulder effortlessly is a joy to watch. His shooting technic from long range with a rifle of a left foot is a great asset he possesses. The perfect example of this is his goals in the Pan America games for Uruguay’s U22 team against Jamaica, it will have you applauding.

A big strength he has is his set pieces; with in-swinging corners giving defenders a hard time to clear the danger out the box, with pinpoint accuracy at times being far too good. At a young age he seems to be somewhat of a dead-ball specialist from free kicks, catching the goalkeepers off guard with a Cristiano Ronaldo-esk technic.

The creative side to his game is really imaginative. When he is receiving the ball in the final third with a very good first touch, cutting onto his favoured left foot has defenders always guessing what he will do next. He does his best work between the lines of the opposing teams defence and midfield, always has his head up to see the big picture in front of him. Consistently fashioning chances out for himself and others in the final third when there’s little room to manoeuvre and finding that defence-splitting pass. This also shows in his stats having the highest smart passes and through balls in the Uruguayan Primera División.

Weaknesses

When coming up against opposing teams in ariel duels he isn’t the best but his height isn’t the problem, he just doesn’t battle for the ball. You see him shying away at times when challenging for the ball in the air. Players of his stature shouldn’t let that affect them, they should be jumping into defenders and make themselves a nuisance for defenders who have got this advantage over them. This applies to his loose ball duels where he can be pushed off the ball to easily, putting his team under a counter attacking threat in some cases potentially leading to a goal scoring opportunity. Leonardo hopefully can improve his psychical side of the game but I think this will come in time as he matures.

The long-range passing is something he can massively improve on. This is down to the fact he comes deep searching for the ball, his game is not suited to this. When he becomes impatient it effects his decision making in the game, forcing the ball unnecessarily from his own half and trying Hollywood balls that are never on. He should be playing between the lines, coupling that with trying the long ball in the opposing area would be really beneficial to improving this side of his game.

Conclusion

With his style of play and adding that to his small physic, he has very similar qualities to a young Paulo Dybala who was a rough diamond at this age. This crucial stage of development I would love to see him make the trip over to Europe, landing at a big club in either Portugal or Holland where he can have the time to refine and polish up his game. Example being Sporting play 4-4-2 (double 6) he would suit this formation with the emphasis on moving the ball vertically rather than side to side and having that attacking midfield focal point. That’s not to pigeon hole him he would be very comfortable in a 4-3-3 playing on either side of the three.  

This summer, he made the move to Tigre’s (Mexico) before getting sent out on loan to Chile. A step in the right direction in his fledgling career, going up a level from his time in his home country. I am very excited to see in the future what becomes of the young Uruguayan dynamo.

Key stats: 12 goals and 3 assists Dribbles 8.6/46.7% successful per 90. Smart passes 3.13 per 90 /44.83% accuracy. Through passes 5.18 per 90/33.3%

The first talent factory product. #1

Name: Lirim Kastrati Age:20

Country: Kosovo Club: Lokomotiva Zagreb

Height: 5’5

Strengths:

Lirim Kastrati aims to beat the man on the outside with his pace, as soon as the ball is been played in, he quickly gets it out of his feet to get past his man and hits the by-line to get a cross in. Technically proficient when he is in 1v1 situations dribbling in tight spaces. When playing on the right side he hugs the touch line as a winger should, creating space for his midfield to find a through ball or a ball over the top of the defensive or him to latch onto. His movement is very good, playing off the defenders shoulder he is perfect for a fast counter attack and the speed he can reach commits the defender to foul him, that is if he isn’t 2 or 3 yards in front already. Three of Lirims goals this early in the season have come with his supposed weaker foot, showing that he has got excellent shooting in or outside the area with both feet. The surprising trait Kastrati has is he is very good in his defensive duties, putting in a shift 4.95 defensive duels per 90 with 53.2%.

Weaknesses:

Obviously at just 20 years of age Kastrati is going to have periods of inconsistency in games, were he can run into a cul de sac of players and running it out of play after running past a player or having a heavy touch and it goes out for a goal kick. He tries hard to dribble past a player sometimes were in fact a simple one two or a short pass to a team mate in a better position. Seems comfortable crossing with his left or right but with only being accurate 22% of the time this is something that he could certainly improve on.

Conclusion:

Lirim Kastrati is being played on the right side and he is proving to be very effective on this side but I think he could be as effective on the left cutting in or picking up positions in between the lines and running at defences he would certainly cause defences a lot of problems with his pace and shooting ability He seems to have the technical and physical ability to deal with all the top 5 leagues in Europe but I think to develop his game further he would be perfect for a team in the championship who like to play out to their wingers and play on the counter attack like Brentford do, he would suit the formation they play 4-3-3 or 4-5-1. Either left or right side I think he would be a very good addition to the players they already have in those positions.

Key stats: 5 goals 3 assists in 8 games. .32 xG goals per 90. Progressive runs 3.27 per 90. Defensive duels 4.95 53.2% won.