Arne Engels at FC Augsburg 2023: The Club Brugge academy product looking to make a name for himself in Germany – scout report
After a spectacular start to the season in the Challenger Pro League with the Club Brugge Nxt team, Arne Engels has sealed a move to FC Augsburg in the German Bundesliga. The 19-year-old Belgium left the Belgian giants without making a senior appearance, but after the first half of the season where he registered 2 goals and 6 assists, he attracted the interest of suitors from elsewhere.
This tactical analysis and scout report will take a deep dive into the qualities that the young Belgian midfielder possesses, and look at whether he has the ability to make the jump up to the Bundesliga and hit the ground running.
While Engels has occasionally found himself playing at fullback for the Club Brugge Nxt team, his preferred position is in an attacking midfield role. While he has the capacity to and has played as a central attacking midfielder, his preferred position is as a right central midfielder.
The image above shows Engel’s heat map from this current season in both the Challenger Pro League and the UEFA Youth League. As we can see, the whole right side of the pitch he makes his own, with his work rate being demonstrated by how much he finds himself in the defensive half of the pitch. While he will occasionally drift inside, the young Belgian prefers to hold his width and become a chance creator from the wide areas.
He is a high-output crosser from these areas, with Engels looking to drive into these advanced positions before sending crosses into the box for his teammates to attack. However, Engels is also not the trickiest wide player, he will not often attempt to dribble past opposition defenders.
As previously mentioned, Engels is not a player who only attacks and then is a passenger in the defensive phases of play. The 19-year-old wins 57% of his defensive duels, with him averaging 6.86 per 90 minutes. As this scout report and tactical analysis progress, we will look at some of these traits of the young Belgian in more detail.
Chance creation from wide areas
The first trait that this scout report will look at is Arne Engel’s chance creation ability from wide areas. As we mentioned previously, Engels is not really a wide midfielder that will cut inside in the final third and drive into the penalty box. Rather, the young Belgian midfielder prefers to keep the width, with the end result being sending crosses into the box for his teammates.
While not all of Engel’s 6 assists this season have come from crosses, they play a large part in his ability to create goal-scoring chances. In fact, the midfielder is averaging over 4 crosses per 90 minutes this season, with a success rate close to 50%.
The data viz above shows Engel’s winger actions from all competitions this season for the Club Brugge Nxt team, and it is able to more clearly illustrate just how many crosses he plays per match. While the young midfielder does drive into the penalty box at times while in possession, he much rather prefers impacting the attacking play from these wider positions.
The image above shows an example of the crossing quality that Arne Engels possesses. In this phase of play above from a match earlier this season in the Challenger Pro League, Engels has gained possession after a one-two with the deeper-lying midfielder. The midfielder was then able to drive forward, getting away from the defender on his back and getting towards the edge of the penalty box.
With the fullback beginning to close him down, the Belgian midfielder was able to look up and spot the forward making a front post run in front of the opposition defender. With the space closing down and the angle getting tighter, Engels was able to stay composed and send a perfectly weighted ground cross into the path of the forward, who was able to run onto it and score for Club Brugge Nxt. This example was able to demonstrate the composure that Engels shows as well in these situations, with him able to still send a cross to the perfect area while being closed down by a defender.
The image above shows another example of the crossing ability, as well as vision, that Arne Engels possesses when it comes to chance creation from these wider areas. In the phase of play above from the UEFA Youth League against PSG, Engels was once again able to demonstrate his vision in finding the space in behind the opposition with his crossing, as well as his composure in these attacking moments when put under pressure by an opposition player.
In this attacking phase of play, the young Belgian is also being closed down by a PSG midfielder, but he was still able to quickly spot the run of the forward in behind the defence. While under pressure, Engels was able to play a floated cross towards the space in the back post area towards where the forward’s run was being made. Unfortunately, the forward is not able to get to the end of the cross in time, with the ball going out of play for a goal kick.
This final example above shows what is likely the best example of the pinpoint accuracy that Arne Engels displays when it comes to his crossing ability. After receiving possession and driving forward from a wide position, Engels is put under pressure by two opposition defenders, one who is looking to close him down and block the incoming cross.
Engels however, is able to still get the cross off, with the ground cross being put into the perfect position. The ball is able to go right between the defender tracking back and the goalkeeper, with both of them being rooted to their spots as a result. This allows the cross to make its way all the way to the back post where the attacker is able to receive in an unmarked position and with a golden chance to score. Unfortunately, the attacker takes too long to set himself and his ensuing shot is blocked by the defender who was able to get on the line and clear it away from danger.
As this section has shown, Arne Engels is able to cause danger when he is allowed to possess the ball in these wide areas where he can send crosses into the box. It will be interesting to see how well he does in these wide attacking areas in the Bundesliga, with it being a massive step up from the Challenger Pro League.
Ability in defensive duels and work rate tracking back
Another strength that this scout report will look at is the ability that Arne Engels possesses defensively as well, with the young Belgian being heavily involved in the defensive side of the game as well for Club Brugge’s second team. As we mentioned earlier in this scout report, Engels is heavily involved in the defensive side of the game and is successful at it too. Throughout this season, the young Belgian has attempted 6.86 defensive duels per 90 minutes, winning 57% of these duels.
The image above shows an example of the work rate Arne Engels possesses, as well as his ability in defensive duels. In the phase of play above, Club Brugge Nxt lose possession in an advanced area of the pitch, and this allows the opposition to attempt to start a quick counterattack. With the opposition player in possession beginning to drive into the Brugge defensive half, Engels spots the danger and tracks back quickly.
Within only a few seconds, the 19-year-old midfielder is able to track back and engage in a defensive duel with the opposition player. As a result of this duel, Engels is able to outmuscle the player, winning possession back for Club Brugge and allowing them to recycle possession and begin their build-up phase again. Without the tracking back of Engels, the Belgian’s side defence would have likely been in danger, especially with an opposition player already in the attacking half, and another making a run beyond the player in possession.
The image above once again displays the work rate that Arne Engels possesses, this time covering for a teammate. In the phase of play above, the opposition are in possession, with the player in possession out wide on the far touchline. The Club Brugge defender bites to a slight movement the attacker makes, which allows the attacker to get past him and leave him off balance. Engels sees this and covers for his teammate, using a burst of acceleration to track back and put a challenge in on the attacker.
As a result of this challenge, Engels is again able to knock the ball away from the attacking player, allowing the Club Brugge centre-back to regain possession and start an attacking move. Though he is not a defending first player, Arne Engels is very capable when it comes to the defensive side of the game. This makes him a perfect fit for a side that works well off the ball as well as on it. At Augsburg under former Borussia Dortmund II boss Enrico Maaßen, he will fit very nicely into their style of play.
As this tactical analysis and scout report has shown, Arne Engels is not yet the complete player. With that being said, he has gotten his big move from the second division in Belgium to the Bundesliga, where he will face off against German giants Bayern Munich.
He will likely need time to adjust to a new style of play, as well as the large jump-up in competition. However, he should slot nicely into Augsburg’s tactics, and it will be interesting to see his development in senior football from this point forward.