The HUGE small detail
Houssem Aouar may never sign for Arsenal.
If he doesn’t don’t chuck this post in the bin because there’ll be another that this speaks to.
When signing a player the very first step is identifying the needs of the team.
If I had that job this would be my list for Arsenal:
- more goals from attack and midfield
- midfielder with elite anticipation/interception skill
- power in midfield
- creativity in midfield
- speed in midfield
- ability to turn in midfield (especially when pressed)
- ball carrying ability from midfield
- 1 touch ball progression from midfield
- elite first touch for midfield
- centre forward with elite movement
- centre forward that excels with back to goal
- centre forward with quickness and speed
- centre forward with aerial threat
- goalkeeper that can compete with Leno
- left back that can compete with Tierney (not necessarily essential due to Saka)
I’d then add the following general qualities to that list:
- strong mentality
- ideally resell value (not vital as squad now has the majority of those playing with this)
- desire to come to Arsenal
- love for the game greater than love of money
I’d then see if I could find a player that could check multiple boxes in the first group of needs and all of the boxes in the second group.
I’m not familiar with Aouar’s personality to know if he checks the boxes in the second group so won’t pretend he does.
I am however familiar with on-field Aouar.
Of the first group of qualities he checks every single one that’s applicable to midfield apart from power.
That’s extremely impressive.
His goals record of 1 in 5 is ok but there is potential for growth there. Even so, if Arsenal get him and he plays 40 times his first season and scores 8, that’s a good first season. Add Arteta’s ability to improve players and far bigger numbers are possible.
He may be small but his game understanding and quickness is impressive leading to frequent interceptions due to his ability to anticipate matched with his athletic qualities.
His creativity is seen often in his heads up vertical posture when on the ball and his eye for subtlety that few have.
His quickness and speed is instant giving him immediate separation.
His touch matched with his ability to scan would be pivotal for our midfield as we have midfielders with a good first touch but no scanning ability or the ability to play one touch but only sideways or backwards.
The elite first touch matched with speed of play is imperative in the modern game as defenders/coaches are reluctant to play through the centre as the chance of a transition is too high.
Having said all that, I believe the number one reason we want to spend big on Aouar is his ability to leave the midfield third and attack the final third on the dribble.
So, is ball carrying his most important quality? I suggest no.
You have to rewind. The PL is full of athletes in midfield now. Quickness. Apart from Arsenal, as of now.
It then becomes even more important that if you want to penetrate into the final third, that you have elite turning ability.
Xhaka is reluctant to turn. Doesn’t have flexible hips. Dani can but prefers to turn in circles. ElNeny is willing but doesn’t match it with a burst. Guendouzi could as he is willing but has zero awareness, in part due to his reluctance to tie his hair back.
Watch this. You’ll see that not only can Aouar turn sharply but he can do it under tight pressure…
Reload it, RELOAD ITTTTTTpic.twitter.com/yNWD7pHUXl
— C 🇨🇩 (@AFC_Carys) September 16, 2020
So what is discovered here is that Aouar’s most important quality may well be his ability to turn.
The HUGE small detail.
Former Highbury regular. Moved to TN, USA in ’99. Married with 3 kids. Coached in UK and US for 27 years.
Mike McDonald Soccer Academy in Morristown TN, Olympic Development coach, Regional Premier League Champion.