David Fofana: A look into Molde’s Ivorian teenage sensation – scout report
After being the second-best team in the Eliteserien for a very long time where the likes of Bodo/Glimt have shown high-level dominance, Molde are back to being the best team on the land and have been very dominant in the league this season and are currently running away with the league title. There have been some splendid performers for them and the one to watch out for is their 19-year-old centre-forward, David Fofana.
The teenager has had a breakthrough season and has been one of their consistent performers at a very early stage in his career. This scout report in the form of a tactical analysis discusses the strengths and weakness of Fofana as a player and states how he contributes to the tactics and playing style of Molde. Let’s begin the analysis.
David Fofana is a right-footed forward who plays as a centre-forward at Molde as part of their two-man forward system. He has featured both in the left centre-forward and the right centre-forward position as well and rotating with his strike partner in occupying different lanes across the pitch.
We can see from the above map that he has been very active around the penalty box and has also been active across the different vertical zones across it though slightly more orientated around the left side which is his starting position. He stands at 181 cm which is a nice height for a striker, and for his age, he has very good pace and power and a tinge of explosiveness when he looks to carry the ball, something we will look into much more in detail.
Movement around the box
One of the significant attributes on which a forward is judged on is their ability to show movement without the ball and position themselves at the right place on the pitch. The ability to consistently arrive at the right place to receive passes from their teammates is a very valuable trait which means that a forward would consistently get more chances to score goals and which would also increase his as well as his team’s chances to score more goals.
His positioning in the box is very good which is one of the reasons why he has been consistently getting decent chances to score goals as well. He is very good in terms of creating separation from his marker which eventually gives him the space to take a shot in excellent zones around the box.
We can see an example of that in the image above where we can see how Fofana manages to stay back and create separation from the opposition defenders who are all dragged by the other Molde players to the ball which helps in creating separation for Fofana from the defenders. This means that he can now receive the ball in a huge space and also have the required time and space to take a shot. He then does really well when he takes a brilliant first and second touch to beat his marker by juggling the ball in the air and then creating a volley for himself to score a goal.
He always looks to hold the last line for his team and does well to keep himself between the two opposition centre-backs. Being part of the two-man front line he takes turns and rotates well with his partner in occupying the channels on both sides. In the above example, we can see him positioning right in between the two centre-backs that help his teammate to aim for a position to pass to from which he receives and is able to take a shot following that.
In the image above we can see another example of Fofana creating separation from his opposition players where he initially made a run forward along with his teammates to drag the defenders deep but then he alone stopped his run which prompted a space to be given to him and then he is able to take a shot from the space which he converts into a goal as well.
In the above image, we can see him again positioning himself right in the middle of the two centre-backs and is very intelligent enough to notice that the two centre-backs behind and ahead of him are pinned by his teammates which he then looks to make good use of. This huge gap between the centre-backs helps him and his teammate to position themselves and play a pass into the empty space easily, resulting in a well-executed goal.
In the above example, we can see him entering the box during the counterattacking situation. Initially, he made a run slightly titled towards the left flank which made the defender believe that he would move that way. Then, around the last moment, he changed the direction of his run slightly and then moved the other way which helped him to create a separation from the defender and score a goal.
The above xG map shows the locations from which he has taken his shots. We can see that a lot of them have come right in the central part of the box and he has also taken a lot of shots in the six-yard area as well. These locations are very high-value zones where taking shots would most likely result in goals. We can see a lot of big circles which are both pink and green this means that he takes shots that are of high xG value. He has averaged 3.85 shots per 90 in all competitions this season with an xG per 90 of 0.82 and actual goals of 0.69 per 90.
His xG per shot value stands at 0.21 which is a very good figure, well above the average for a striker and is usually shown by players having elite-level movement ability. Though he has underperformed his xG, he seems to be getting a lot of chances to score goals which means that he’ll eventually still end up scoring more goals than an average striker.
Fofana has a very good build and frame, especially with his legs which are pretty long as well. This means that he can take long strides when running with and without the ball. In terms of carrying the ball, Fofana is very good at running into open spaces and also using his pace and power to beat his man in 1v1 situations.
In the above image, we can see him using his quick feet to dribble past the players. He takes a brilliant first touch that initially brings the ball closer to his body which entices the opposition defender who then looks to press him and he then takes another touch forward and moves past him. The first touch of his was very important as it dummied the defender into going in the other direction.
He uses his upper body strength to good use as well. Especially when he looks to shield the ball from the opposition, he uses a textbook technique to shield the ball from the defender with good use of his hands as well. He protects the ball and then turns swiftly indicated by that curved arrow in the image to move the ball forward.
In another example in the image above, he is facing a defender after receiving the ball facing his own goal initially. The defender steps out to press him which means that there is a space behind him to carry the ball and drive into it. Fofana directs the ball into the space and then makes a sprinting run to then take control of it and goes on to take a shot at the goal.
In the above image, he carries the ball by initially beating a man right next to him as we can see how wrong-footed he looks from the image he then evades physical pressure from the defender next to him and goes on to score a goal as well.
But in terms of receiving the ball before carrying and dribbling with it, Fofana has a glaring issue there where often he looks to receive the ball facing his own goal rather than with an open body shape. This means that he has to take an extra two touches to adjust the ball and his body angle to drive forward towards the opposition’s goal. Essentially, it would give the defenders the time to make a challenge or even make an interception as well. This can be seen in the image above where he takes time to turn with the ball which then gives the chance for the Bodo/Glimt defenders to intercept the ball.
Another issue with his dribbling is sometimes when he carries the ball, his second touch or third touch can be very loose which means that, after a good first touch, he would sometimes lose the ball due to his further touches being very poor on the ball. We can see an example of that in the image above, where due to his second touch being poor, the ball has gone behind him and he cannot control it while running at a very high speed.
We have already discussed in small detail Fofana’s finishing where we said that he has underperformed his xG despite having a good output. We could say that his ability to get into excellent zones frequently means he gets very good chances. Despite his underperformance, he is a quality finisher and has scored goals from a variety of angles.
In this example above, we can see him finish from a tough angle where carries the ball all the way down to the touchline and he goes on to finish by scoring with a chip despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts to save the goal.
We can say that his ball striking is something that is pretty inconsistent where at times he can get very good power with his shot and score goals and at times it can be very light. The above image represents the former, where he runs down the channel and then strikes the ball very hard down the ground which reaches the goal and hits the far bottom corner, making it impossible for the keeper to save.
We can see another example of him cutting inside with his stronger foot and beating his markers to create space for himself in the central area in the penalty box. He then gets a good view and takes a shot which resulted in a goal. Again, the shot that he took was very good with the right precision and power.
He could go on and develop his ability to score a lot of goals with his weaker foot which is something that elite-level forwards are very adept at. For example, when he is in the left wing he usually looks to adjust his body orientation to cut inside and score from his right foot. He could probably save time and touches to shoot with his weaker left foot and try to score a goal from that.
Overall, Fofana is amongst the best talents from the Scandinavian regions coming out on the back of a strong season in the Eliteserien. If he continues to show further development on top of some of the invaluable skills that he possesses, he could go on to play for major leagues like Serie A, Premier League, and La Liga.