Have Brighton picked up the best deal of the summer? Is Leandro Trossard the real deal? This scout report decrypts the Belgian’s promising future.
Throughout another summer of super spending from the usual suspects, big players with big futures moved to big clubs. Yet while the media focus was on the likes of Rodri or Harry Maguire moving to either of the Manchester giants, it was the Premier League peripheries that made the most eyebrow-raising deals of the transfer window, with the likes of Sebastien Haller and Moise Kean all making the step from the continent to the capital of football.
But as this tactical analysis will show, the ‘smartest’ signing of the summer could well go to Brighton by bringing in Leandro Trossard from Genk to add to the vast number of Belgium’s golden generation that have now featured in England’s top tier.
The Belgian proved his worth as the 24-year-old captained his boyhood club to their first league title since 2011 with his 14 league goals. In a side that also featured promising prospects like Sander Berge or Joakim Maehle, it was his creativity and ingenuity that meant Genk trounced to the Jupiler Pro League title.
Being the linchpin to their successes meant a list of admirers increased. Arsenal and Everton were both rumoured to be interested in Trossard’s services. But it was Brighton who parted with £14m with the promise that the Leandro could become the poster boy to epitomise the new era under Graham Potter’s tactics.
Predominantly being tucked-in off the left in Philippe Clement’s rigid yet effective 4-2-3-1/4-3-3, Trossard was your typical inside forward. He drifts centrally with his ability to progress the ball from deep, propelling counter attacks with his cheeky wizardry, he was central to getting the best out of Genk’s runners in-behind.
As the stills above signify, Trossard’s dribbling from deep was an avid centrepiece to Genk creating big chances. A centrepiece that made them almost frightening on the counter-attack, with his silky flair, quick movement and his stop-go action that made 1v1s impossible to defend against.
The quick snapshot shows how Trossard can quickly transition the ball. Picking it up from outside his box, advancing it neatly through the evaded midfield before smartly (something he doesn’t do enough of) laying the ball through into the empty space ahead of him.
Graham Potter’s main man
And it’s Trossard’s abilities on the ball, the creativity to make space for others as well as his own individual innovation to use the half-spaces so productively that will make the Belgian such a keystone in Graham Potter’s new structure.
With the focus now on the dynamic and flexible 3-4-3, with a workmanlike midfield in Propper and Stephens behind and the solitary centre-forward now likely to be Neal Maupay rather than Glenn Murray, it’ll be up to Leandro to step up and be the creative force.
Potter’s system thrives more so on instinctive passing, adaptive triangles across the pitch (as proven with the use of overlapping centre back Dan Burn) and fluid positional play. Fortunately for the new Brighton boss, Trossard seemingly fits the bill.
Although Potter will presumably transform their build-up play, pressing triggers and their side’s straight up ability to just create chances from fluid passing. The former Swans boss will be hoping to keep the attacking threat that Brighton offer from set-pieces.
A threat that saw Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk net 7 goals between them last year and fortunately for Potter, Trossard could quickly become one of the best set-piece takers in the Premier League.
A midfielder who can add goals to the team is valuable to anyone- especially to sides outside the top 6 where the usual problems sprout from their lack of goalscorers. With Glenn Murray not getting any younger, and the departures of both Andone and Locadia – sharing the goals around will be a necessity this season for Brighton.
Fortunately, Leandro Trossard’s underlying data might just prove that he could be the answer. Despite his role as a winger, he still plucked up an xG90 of 0.41 to complement his actual G90 of 0.43. His goal-scoring prowess is no fluke.
And that’s already transferred from the Belgian league to the Premier League with the gameweeks so far, seeing Trossard’s xG coming out better than the likes of Sadio Mane and Bernardo Silva. Impressive.
Trossard has his positives, and there’s a lot of them, but like most up-and-coming attacking midfielders, deficiencies remain surrounding his final ball, aka decision-making, which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world.
It’s more so about thoughtless actions or mistimed passes rather than just straight-up stupid errors which again, is another positive, as it’s something that can probably be easily erased from his game.
Take the image above, a scenario typical of an attacking winger with the responsibility to roam to improve the number of chances. But it’s also a typical scenario that has a typical ending.
Instead of simply laying the ball off or threading it through to the options ahead the ball languishes in the stand behind the goal.
This became quite a common occurrence for Trossard, and the data backs this up. In the Europa League last season, Trossard attempted 3.1 shots p90, a fairly decent amount for a winger. But none of these came within the 6-yards-box (definitely not a poacher) and 2.1 of his shots were outside the box.
It’s foolish but it’s not unique, and again, easy to practice out of. A further 12 months into his progression could see opportunities like that be taken advantage of, the spaces ahead of him used, or maybe he just becomes a better long-range finisher.
It’s a flaw: all players have them, but as far as Brighton are concerned it could be a lot worse than “he sometimes takes shots from ridiculous locations”, and maybe as his xG states so far, he’s already getting better.
Trossard, unsurprisingly, comes across quite well and seems almost the perfect fit for this new era at Brighton. With a bright, young manager and an influx of talented players ready to make their mark, I’ll be secretly rooting for the South-coast team to prove a lot of people wrong.
And whether it goes extremely well or not, trust Leandro to have a significant stamp on the season ahead. He has all the attributes to become a real superstar and a good season in his debut 12 months could be a critical factor in the successes of Brighton’s campaign.
His potential is there for everyone to see, his individuality mixed with the promise that Graham Potter brings – Brighton could have the perfect blend for the 2019/20 campaign.
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