Ligue 1 in recent years has been the hunting grounds for many leagues in Europe and even the upper elite teams from Premier League and La Liga have been heavily investing in these players. This can be attributed to the rise in talents from France that saw them produce a golden generation of footballers which won a world cup recently. Another emerging talent from the league looking to grab headlines is Nice’s Amine Gouiri.
Nice have had a tumultuous 2020-21 campaign that saw a lot of promise after a decent 2019-20 season. They currently hover around the mid-table and are expected to miss out on a European spot. But the shining light is the emergence and performance of the 21-year-old who has been carrying the team with an output of 12 goals and 6 assists. In this scout report, we will discuss how Amine Gouiri contributes to the tactics of the Nice and have a tactical analysis of him. Let’s begin the analysis.
Goiuri starts for Nice in the left-wing as a forward in their 4-3-3 setup. Being a right-footed player, Goiuri likes to cut inside with his stronger foot from a wider position like every other modern-day winger. We can see his heatmap in the below graphic.
We can see a huge yellow area at the left-wing especially very wide. Those are the areas where Gouiri generally tends to start from or receive passes from his teammates. He occupies such wide regions as Nice look to stretch the opposition’s defensive line. His gravity about which we will discuss in detail in this scout report is one of the main reasons for this.
Amine Gouiri has the necessary skills and abilities on the ball that you expect from a modern-day inverted winger. Importantly, his fundamentals when he handles the ball is very strong. This also includes his first touch, the weight of the pass, etc. When we talk about first touches, it is fundamentally the most important aspect for a player before he looks to act with the ball. Different passes and situations require different ways to have the first contact with the ball. A player cannot have a single type of first touch and look to reproduce in different situations. This will lead to him making an additional touch if the first one does not satisfy.
In the above image, we can see Gouiri receiving the ball with the outside of his right foot. When we look closely his body positioning is among the reasons for this and again that is because of his intentions once he receives the ball. With this posture, Gouiri has two options in mind. One is to immediately take the ball forward after the first touch and the second is to cut-inside seamlessly to open space for the left-back’s overlap. If he had a posture that mostly has his back facing the opponent’s goal line, then he would need to take another touch to create time for himself to turn towards that direction. This would have given Denmark’s right-back the time and control to regain the ball. But to ensure swiftness Gouiri has this kind of posture to facilitate such a first-touch we discussed above. He then drags the defender with him and plays a back-heel pass to the left-back showing good vision.
In this image above, we can see him receiving the ball facing the player from whom he received it. The first touch now shows that he receives with the inside of the boot and the reason for that is now he has space around him since the defender who stepped up does not fully commit to pressurize Gouiri and Gouiri has scanned this well to understand that he has time and space to receive the ball and also turn.
Another example shows Gouiri receiving the ball facing his own goal. He had previously scanned before having his first touch on the ball. This makes him aware that a Denmark defender is going to pressurize him and he senses that the pressurize is going to come from his right side. He immediately plays the ball into space to his left and turns quickly. His agility means that the defender has lost his marker (look how haphazard his posture is) and he had to make a tactical foul to stop the counter-attack. Another reason for his quick adjustments on the ball is his ability to constantly scan around the pitch. This is something that coaches around the world give huge emphasis on when they develop young players. We can see him scanning the pitch before he receives the ball in the image below. Noticing that he does not have a player pressurizing him he lets the ball run without making a contact. He knows that eventually the ball will stop rolling and he will have the time and space to play a pass. This is a very unique skill set that top players seek to have where they look to manipulate actions with fewer touches.
His ability to beat players is one of his best attributes where he averages 5.04 dribbles per game with an impressive accuracy of 47.65%. He likes to receive the ball from the left flank and cut-inside by going past his defensive marker. He also engages in a good amount of offensive duels per game for his team with an average of 11.48 duels per game and winning 32.5 of them. Though the accuracy might below he is surely in his development phase and that rate would surely increase in the future.
At 180 cm, Gouiri is at a decent height that you expect from a forward. He is extremely strong and very hard to deal with especially during duels. This is because of his immense upper-body strength which he uses extensively to shield the ball from his marker. We talked about him having a great first touch, which also aids him in his ability to hold the ball and retain the possession for his team. An example of that can be seen in the above image. Lorient’s full-back has his arm wrapped around Gouiri’s body. Despite such pressure, Gouiri withstands it with his immense strength and turns him around to escape from his marker and drive forward with the ball. His posture to protect the ball is also an additional reason why he can shield it well. This same posture is used by many strong forwards like Anthony Martial, Olivier Giroud, etc during their hold-up play. This means that he can also play through the centre as a striker and play a role in which he can drop deep and drag centre-backs and link up with runners in behind.
Now coming to the important attribute for a forward, which is scoring goals. Gouiri has registered 12 goals for Nice in the league this season. Out of those, 8 of them have been non-penalty goals. He has taken shots worth a total xG of 13.6, which is higher than his actual goal tally. This indicates that he currently underperforms on the finishing side. But delving deeper we can find that he is someone who likes to take a lot of shooting chances. He takes a shot for every 1.72 touches inside the penalty box per game which is much higher than the likes of Mbappe, Neymar and Memphis Depay. This shows that he is a high volume shooter and likes to take chances. Like a typical left-wing forward, he favours to cut-inside from the flank and after dribbling past the defender he likes to take a shooting chance. Another reason for his high xG is the fact that either he gets into good scoring positions or he creates the opportunity by himself using his technical ability. In the chart below, we rank the players based on their xG/shot which gives a good insight as to which player takes shots worth high xG. Gouiri ranks 16th in the league and despite being a winger playing for an 11th placed team, he generates shots on average that are worth at least 0.19 xG. Again this better when compared with those elite forwards playing in the league.
If he can improve his finishing a little, which is not entirely bad currently he would genuinely be scoring much more goals than usual. Given his age, he has plenty of time to work on that before he makes a move to a much bigger European club.
Gouiri also does possess a good ability to link up with his teammates and is one of the important players through which the whole Nice attack flows. He has a great weight of pass coupled with a good vision to deliver good passes to his teammates. He averages 6 assists from an expected amount of 4.01 this season. Delving deeper into the statistics plays 0.53 key passes per game and is among the top 20 players in this season in the Ligue-1 concerning his metric. That can be seen in the graphic below.
He averages 2.32 passes into the penalty area along with having 4.23 touches in the penalty area. The latter constitutes around 30% of his team’s total touches in the box. This shows that he is among the most important players and the dangerous threat that Nice’s boss Adrean Ursea looks to unleash. We can see an example of his playmaking skills in the image below. He receives the ball from the left-back. This forces the opposition’s right-back to step up and move towards Gouiri. This opens a hole in the defence and the left-back immediately makes an underlapping run into space. Gouiri plays a very good pass to him and the left-back cuts it back for a shot assist.
His ability on the ball means that he generates a great amount of gravity with a lot of players getting dragged towards him. This situation in football means that too much space is given to the other players and some of them might even be unmarked in dangerous zones. We can see that in the image below, where around 3 players are focussed on him that has left his teammate in huge space. He plays a simple pass but with great precision to his teammate who makes a well-timed run on the blindside and goes on to score the goal.
He often finds himself coming into the central positions too when he carries the ball into the central regions and hovering around the half-spaces when his team wants him to. This would eventually open spaces in the wings for the full-back on his side to overlap and deliver crosses. He has some underlying ability to create few opportunities for his team. In his repertoire, he has this inswinging cross with his right foot from the left flank. This is something that he has used to good effect and notching up a few assists with it this season. We can see an example of such a cross in the image below.
Though he is not primarily a creator of sorts like the likes of Jadon Sancho, he is someone who has very good underlying basics and understanding of the game that helps him to play the right passes to his teammates. He can develop his game further to become an elite creative winger, but for now his playmaking abilities need some work concerning the decision-making area.
Off the ball abilities
Forwards are expected to show great work rate, helping their full-back defensively by tracking back. Every top manager at a tp club expects to have these and Gouiri certainly has a very good work rate. Playing for a mid-table club that does not dominate possession means you naturally have to defend but even when Nice dominate proceedings we can find Gouiri helping out his teammates. He averages 3.59 interceptions per game along with 4.33 successful defensive actions per game. We can see an example of that in the below image as he engages in a duel with the Iceland full-back in the recent U-21 Euros.
It is also an added advantage that a player has a very good mentality in helping his team. Usually, we don’t expect forwards to track back during transitions and defend. But Gouiri is happy to put in a shift for his team. We can see him engaging in a duel in Nice’s defensive third with the opposition’s forward when they are in a counter-attacking situation.
His defensive sensing is also very good for someone of his age where he reads the game well and positions well to intercept the ball. This is one of the reasons for his very good defensive numbers. In the example below, he recognizes that his teammate is pressing the ball carrier and Gouiri adjusts his positioning in such a way that he closes down the passing lane to the nearby defender. He then intercepts the ball and goes on to score the goal.
Off the ball abilities not only denote the ability to defend for his team when they do not have possession. Even without possession, a forward needs to be active with his movement and positioning. Forwards are always expected to make runs in behind the defence and keep the opposition engaged. There are many pluses to it as progressive passers always need someone to make such runs so that they can ping the ball to them. Also, such runs can create spaces on the pitch when these forwards drag defenders with them. Though Gouiri is someone who likes to drop and receive the ball to his feet, he does not shy away from making runs and asking for balls over the defence. He averages 2.54 progressive runs, with many of them being off the ball. We can see an example of this in the image below, where he stays wide and signals his centre-back to play a ball to him. His movement is very crucial as he stays on-side and also is ahead of the defender in reaching the ball first.
Gouiri is a great talent and has been one of the best players in Ligue 1 this season. Only 21 years, but he seems to have the maturity of a player entering his peak right now and has also been Nice’s star player this season. The majority of the top clubs in Europe will be monitoring his development and will be looking at him for another season to see his progress. The likes of Real Madrid (potential Hazard replacement) and Barcelona (in place of Depay) can look at him as a long-term LW option given Nice’s situation he could be sold for a cut-price deal.