We’ve been examining five of Europe’s best attacking-midfield talents and Houssem Aouar is next in the series. Manchester City are after Tanguy Ndombele. But what about the architect of Lyon’s midfield? A budding star in his own right, Aouar is a french midfielder who plays as a central midfielder and likes to push upfront. Find out why he’s considered one of the best young players in his position and read our methodology here.
STYLE OF PLAY
The Lyon playmaker is somewhere between an eight and a classic 10. Aouar likes to assume control of the flow of the ball and get forward with it.
The technically gifted player can play on the left and centrally. He can come handy in a counter-attack due to his ability to carry the ball vertically very quickly.
ATTRIBUTE RANKS (How the player ranks against the other players analysed)
Key passes: 3
Expected goals+assists: 4
Successful dribbles: 2
Chances created: 4
Aouar is clearly a good dribbler of the ball, averaging two successful dribbles every 90 minutes. The elegant French architect glides past defenders comfortably using swift body movements and can come out with the ball after intense pressing by the opposition.
He is also voluminous with his shots, shooting 2.75 times every 90 minutes. Never the one to shy away from a half-chance, Aouar lurks unsuspectingly on the edge of the opposition box.
If the situation demands, Aouar can be an impressive presser of the ball too. Whether on the ball or off it, his utilisation of space is praise-worthy.
Along with Tanguy Ndombele, the midfielder has been crucial for Lyon’s impressive form this season, especially in the Champions League.
There is no stand-out weakness as such but he could improve his creativity, especially in big games.
For all his dribbling and ball-carrying abilities, Auour can be exposed when he leaves space behind himself when he ventures forward. Hence, his creativity takes a hit, given he can’t take the risk and give the ball away.
NOTABLE PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON
The player was outstanding in Lyon’s 4-2 win over Marsielle, back in September. Aouar started on the left side of midfield in this game and produced great work offensively and defensively.
The 20-year-old opened the scoring for Lyon, completed two dribbles and boasted of an impressive 85 percent passing accuracy. He also created quite a few goal-scoring opportunities, while winning four tackles on the other side of the pitch.
A bright future awaits the youngster. A bit of creativity and he could fit into the Andres Iniesta profile at his peak. The market value of €40m seems fair and it might even be a steal in this inflated transfer market.
Real Madrid, Manchester United
The attacking midfield department is blessed with quite a few promising youngsters, who have the potential to expand their horizons in the future.
With clubs preferring to buy talents at the age of 18-20, scouting the right player for the right profile might be cumbersome.
Here, we analyse some of the top talents under the age of 23, who are deployed in attacking midfield and determine their strengths, weaknesses and worth.
The stats are for the 2018/19 season and updated until 18th January. For uniformity, the stats per 90 minutes was normalised by dividing it by the average value of all players of that particular attribute.
Hence, a radar graphic was arrived for every player. This radar gives information on the player’s strengths and weaknesses and also compares the player with other players across all the attributes.
The attribute rank ranks that particular player among the five players considered.
The market value of the player was taken from transfermarkt.
Sancho emerged as the best dribbler among the chosen players and he is ahead by some margin. French genius Aouar too shows promise in this department, excelling with his unique style of taking on opponents.
HIGHEST BUILD-UP INVOLVEMENT
Again, it’s the English wonder-kid Sancho, who comes out on top, with Under not so far behind.
MAXIMUM EXPECTED GOALS+ASSISTS
At this point, Sancho must be overlooked, given his all-round ability. Alli and Under keeping popping up in promising areas and garner a good stat of expected goals+assists.
MAXIMUM KEY PASSES
Sancho’s vision is way superior to that of the other players and the stats regarding key passes per 90 minutes show just that. Again, Under comes close, mainly due to his superb delivery of crosses from wide areas.
HIGHEST SHOT VOLUME
Under and Aouar get into advanced position and hence record voluminous shots every game.
MAXIMUM CHANCES CREATED
This has a lot to do with the style of play of the teams and the other players on the field who are tasked with creating chances. For instance, the presence of Cristian Eriksen does not allow Alli to expand his creative abilities.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Sancho and Under lead the charts yet again.
Nottingham Forest icon Martin O’Neill is honoured to be returning to the City Ground as manager and wants to end the club’s long exile from the Premier League.
The 66-year-old enjoyed much success during a decade as a player with the Reds, including winning the old First Division title and two European Cups.
He has agreed an 18-month contract and during that time O’Neill aims get the club back in the top flight, where they have not competed for 20 years.
“It has probably not sunk in yet as things have happened very quickly, but it goes without saying that it’s a privilege and an honour to be manager of this club,” said O’Neill.
“I had 10 years here as a player, and the last five were pretty exceptional.
“It’s a long time since the club has been in the big league and I am going to see if I can rectify that. It’s the only reason to be here. The club has slipped a bit in recent times but hopefully we can rectify that.
“I have to get to know the players in ultra quick time, but that’s OK. This is it, this is what I’m here to do.”
O’Neill takes over a team ninth in the Championship table, four points behind local rivals Derby, who occupy the final play-off spot.
Asked if promotion was possible this season, he said: “I’m not going to rule anything out. Essentially the target is to get promotion. I have to try to do that.
“In terms of the club’s potential, history and support it deserves to be in the big league and if I can’t do that then I will hand over to someone else.”
O’Neill hopes to be joined at the City Ground by Roy Keane, the former Forest midfielder who assisted him during his five years as Republic of Ireland boss.
“I would dearly like him to join us. Since this has happened very quickly he has a number of things to sort out himself,” said O’Neill.
“There’s a spot open for him and I hope it happens. It may not, as he has a few things to sort out himself both personally and professionally.
“He was a great asset to me at the Republic of Ireland and we had some really great days. He can be a handful. He was a special player, fantastic footballer who drove Manchester United on for 10 years and you don’t win those things just sitting around.”
O’Neill replaces Aitor Karanka after the Spaniard’s departure last week and he becomes the club’s 11th full-time manager since 2011.
“I wasn’t particularly aware of that,” said O’Neill. “I think in this day and age managers are getting less and less time, you have to get going.”