Reda Slim is a 19-year-old winger who stands at 176cm (5’9”) tall, weighs 64kg (141lbs) and has provided three goal contributions from his five league appearances this season – bested by only three players. Additionally, Slim has generated the third-highest expected goals and assists (xG+A) of any player in Morocco’s first tier for the 2020/21 campaign – 2.94. The winger doesn’t turn 20 until 25th October but he is already performing at a high standard.
With his contract set to expire in the summer of 2022, this gem, who is currently estimated to be worth €300k (just over £263k) in the transfer market, according to Wyscout, is one to keep a very close eye on for the foreseeable future and in this tactical analysis piece, in the form of a scout report, we’ll provide analysis of his game and how his side’s tactics have gotten the best out of him, to explain why we feel you should track this player’s progress closely.
Our first image shows Slim’s heatmap for the 2020/21 season. His heatmap for last season was very similar, and this shows us that thus far in his professional career, Slim has typically played on the right and tends to spend a lot of his time out wide, fairly close to the sideline, if not at the sideline, providing the width for his side in the final third.
If you were to describe Slim as a specific ‘type’ of player, it would be accurate to call him a ‘traditional’ winger. He generally plays on the right-wing, spends a lot of time hugging the sideline and he is right-footed.
While Slim does favour his right-foot, he is quite two-footed and as a result, he’s capable of performing a similar role on the left-wing to the one he performs on the right-wing. When deployed on the left, he also tends to stay quite wide, drives down the wing and sends crosses in, a lot of the time, via his weaker left-foot, which he’s proficient with.
That’s not to say that Slim never cuts inside in the final third, he will do on occasion, depending on how and where he receives the ball, as well as how the rest of the chess pieces are laid out on the pitch at that moment, but usually, you’ll find him outside the width of the opposition penalty area.
Usually, though, before his team progresses into the final third, Slim will be sitting in a much narrower position. He tends to come out from a narrow position to receive the ball as his team progress into the final third. At times, this will result in Slim picking up the ball in deeper, more central areas of the pitch. He also likes to create in a slower, more patient manner via his vision and passing quality in these positions.
So, while he is a pacey, tricky winger at heart, he’s not a one-trick pony. There are multiple facets to his game and you might say that unpredictability is a common theme to many elements of his game.
Dribbling, movement and pace
Slim’s dribbling ability is undoubtedly one of his greatest assets. The 19-year-old performed 5.47 dribbles per 90 last season – 17th in Botola Pro – with a 55.56% success rate – 27th in Morocco’s top tier.
This season, so far, he has performed 6.21 dribbles per 90 – eighth in Botola Pro – with a 51.61% success rate – 20th in the league.
These stats highlight that he is already performing at a high level, in his league, in terms of his dribbling ability. He is performing a relatively high number of dribbles per 90 and he’s coming out of the majority of those successfully. Now, we’ll take a look at some of the intricacies of his game on the ball to determine just what makes him such an effective dribbler.
This next image shows us FAR Rabat building into the opposition’s half of the pitch. We can see an example of Slim making the outward movement we discussed previously from a more central area to meet this pass as his team builds into the opposition half, showing this movement that he typically makes to receive the ball as his team approaches the final third.
He successfully receives the ball in a slightly wider position as the play moves on. This is the kind of position from where Slim likes to carry the ball forward and attack the penalty area, so getting from that central position into this position out on the right-wing tends to be a common part of his game.
Slim has attracted pressure from the opposition left-back as he receives the ball here. The defender has got tight to him, in an effort to prevent him from successfully turning towards the opposition goal, at which point he can utilise his dribbling quality to carry the ball forward and create.
However, the defender is unsuccessful at preventing Slim from progressing, as the winger pulls off a move that he likes to do quite often, which is to flick the ball just around the defender, knocking it a considerable distance ahead of him, so he can then turn and beat the defender in the ensuing race to the ball.
He pulls off this movement via some quick thinking and his vision, while he succeeds after pulling off this move quite often thanks to his rapid pace and agility. His agility allows him to turn quickly to get facing the same direction as the defender and his pace allows him to make up the ground that the defender has on him to make it to the ball first.
He performs this movement with the outside of his boot as we saw here, and other times with the inside of his boot, but the outward movement he makes to get into this position and the way in which he knocks the ball on is what remains consistent either way.
As the play moves on after pulling off this move, he tends to burst down the touchline, carry the ball towards goal and get into a crossing position.
Thanks to his pace, Slim also provides a great counter-attacking threat for his side. The next image shows us an example of the 19-year-old setting off on a run down the wing, while his team begins a counter-attack with lots of opposition players positioned upfield, giving FAR Rabat an excellent opportunity to unleash Slim into space.
Knowing Slim’s pace, the FAR Rabat player who started this counter-attack played the ball far ahead of him but the winger still managed to get to the ball first. He carries the ball out wide, where he is followed by an opposition player positioned close to him when the counter-attack began.
This player sticks with Slim but the winger deals with him masterfully, showcasing his agility, balance and overall quality on the ball. As he takes the ball out wide and this player sticks tight to him, he quickly turns inside upon reaching the sideline. This wrong-foots the defender, sends him to ground, and Slim leaves him in his tracks.
Slim is very unpredictable on the ball in situations like this, in terms of the subtle movements that he makes to beat players. He’s constantly changing up the speed at which he’s moving and the directions in which he’s moving, feinting and cutting inside and outside, to keep defenders guessing with the goal of producing an outcome like this one. These are some of the reasons why he’s such a good dribbler.
If you were to point out weaknesses in his dribbling, at times he does knock the ball too far ahead of himself and easily gives away possession, while he can also be outmuscled by defenders. If a larger defender shields the ball from him, it can make it difficult for the winger to use the advantage he gains via his pace. This also happens when he knocks the ball too far ahead, so working on that could make him an even more effective dribbler.
Crossing and playmaking
Slim’s crossing is another positive to his game and FAR Rabat’s tactics make the most of this skill.
In the 2019/20 season, Slim made the 15th-highest number of crosses per 90 (3.24) of any player in Morocco’s top flight, while he had the 14th-best cross accuracy percentage (35.42%) in the league.
So far this term, Slim has made 4.01 crosses per 90 – the eighth-highest number of crosses made by any Botola Pro player, while he’s got the 12th-best cross accuracy percentage (30%) of any player in the league, indicating that he’s been relatively successful with those crosses, which may suggest that it’s wise of FAR Rabat to encourage Slim to play so many crosses.
His crossing ability and the way in which FAR Rabat use it played a big part in Slim generating the seventh-highest xA (4.78) of any Botola Pro player last term and generating the fifth-highest xA (1.19) of any Botola Pro player so far this season. It’s clearly a key part of his creativity.
More often than not, Slim can be seen taking the ball up the right-wing and driving all the way to the byline, from where he will then send in his cross. This next image shows us one such occasion where this happened.
He likes to get quite close to the penalty area and quite far up the pitch to play crosses, while he also likes to play driven crosses on his stronger right foot, so when he gets into these positions, you can expect to see the ball sent in below waist-height, typically with a good deal of pace.
One key thing to note about Slim’s crossing is that he varies things up quite a bit and retains an element of unpredictability, as he does with his dribbling, that keeps the opposition guessing. While he will usually drive to the byline and tends to play relatively low crosses from there, this isn’t always what he does.
For example, as the next image shows, sometimes he plays crosses early, from deeper positions. His crosses from these types of positions tend to be floated in more, as opposed to the ones that he drives into the box.
When the winger opts to do this, he prioritises accuracy and height over power. He tends to get his head up to pick out the target in the box, while he may not have the time to do this when he’s driven higher up the pitch with the ball.
Slim has proven successful at playing crosses from either area. The way in which he poses a dangerous threat from different areas is a boost for his side and makes the playmaker even more difficult to defend against.
The next image shows an example of Slim playing on the left-wing. Even then, he plays quite similarly to how he plays on the right. He tends to drive on the outside more often than not, despite his right foot being stronger, and plays the ball across the face of goal, below waist height.
One difference you may pick up on between Slim’s crosses on the right and the left, is that on the left, he usually opts to put less power on the ball, in favour of accuracy, however, the ball does still come in at a similar height and he plays the crosses from a similar position.
One weakness you may point out in Slim’s crossing is that he snatches at opportunities to play the ball into the box at times when he’s off-balance, resulting in the cross not meeting its intended target.
He doesn’t just do this with his crossing, but also with his shooting at times. Slim likes to take longshots. At this stage of the 2020/21 campaign, he’s taken twice as many longshots as any other FAR Rabat player, however, he often snatches at the opportunity as soon as it presents itself, rather than making a different decision.
This sees him hit crosses and shots while turning or at an angle that he is unlikely to succeed from.
You could argue that this is somewhat wasteful and you may question the winger’s decision-making here, especially as he is a good dribbler and could potentially carry the ball into a more favourable position, so being more patient in these situations could benefit Slim.
While crossing is a key part of Slim’s playmaking, as we mentioned previously, sometimes he finds himself on the ball in slightly deeper positions with runners ahead of him and on these occasions, his through ball-playing ability comes into play more, as this next image shows us an example of.
This doesn’t happen infrequently. Slim has played the third-highest number of through passes per 90 (1.2) of any FAR Rabat player in the league this season and that’s because he also varies up the speed at which he plays at times, which is something that sets him apart from similar types of players and adds another unpredictable element to his game.
In this image, we can see his side on the counter-attack, but with everyone else on the move and him on the ball in some space, he intelligently opts to get his head up, slow play down for just a moment, allowing his teammates to find more space ahead of him and allowing himself more time to make a decision, before playing his teammate in behind with a cutting through ball.
What makes Slim such an exciting prospect is not just what he does on the ball, but also what he does off the ball.
The 19-year-old is very active off the ball, with an impressive defensive work-rate. Last season, he engaged in 7.36 defensive duels per 90, with a solid 62.39% success rate, while so far this season, he has engaged in 5.61 defensive duels per 90 – the sixth-most of any FAR Rabat player – with a 53.57% success rate. Slim has also made the fourth-highest number of interceptions per 90 (4.41) of any FAR Rabat player.
Slim carries out his fair share of defensive work for his team. His pace, concentration and work-rate all combine on the pitch to make him an effective player off the ball, particularly when pressing high up the pitch.
In this next image, we can see the opposition team passing the ball fairly deep inside their own half. After FAR Rabat successfully cut the pitch in half via their pressing and force the player on the ball to line up a pass to the left-back, right-winger Slim springs into action and begins closing down the player who’s about to receive the ball.
Thanks to his alertness to spot this opportunity and his rapid speed, he manages to make up a lot of ground quite quickly and pull off this interception, preventing the left-back from getting on the ball and regaining possession for his side in a dangerous position, kick-starting a potentially dangerous counter-attack from quite high up the pitch.
He poses a constant threat in these situations and also tracks back diligently over the course of a game, providing support to his full-back off the ball.
As well as that, Slim is a physical player off the ball. He’s not the biggest or strongest player but he uses the frame and strength that he does possess to its maximum. More often than not, you wouldn’t accuse him of going into a tackle half-heartedly, and while that does result in him fouling the opposition on occasion, it’s also a big reason why he comes out of defensive duels successfully a lot of the time.
In conclusion, we feel that Slim is undoubtedly an exciting prospect. He’s a hard-working player on and off the ball, he’s quick, he’s a proficient crosser who possesses great vision, and he exhibits a great deal of in-game intelligence that can set him apart from similar types of players, and might be a key reason why he’s performing at the high level he is at such a young age.
He does have some weaknesses – he asks too much of himself when trying to beat defenders at times, costing his team possession, he isn’t very strong and his decision-making in terms of crossing and shooting is questionable at times, however, overall, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives for this prospect.
If he continues to progress as he has been so far, perhaps there is little stopping Slim from following in the footsteps of compatriots like Benfica’s Adel Taarabt, formerly of EFL and EPL fame, and current Chelsea playmaker Hakim Ziyech, to become the next exciting star of Moroccan football.