Destiny Udogie: Tottenham’s best signing this summer – scout report
Destiny Udogie is a 19-year-old Italian under-21 international. He plays his football on the left-hand side of the pitch and is athletic enough to cover the whole channel. Udogie came through the ranks at Hellas Verona and made his professional debut just before his eighteenth birthday.
Already amassed over 40 appearances in Serie A, Udogie has gained valuable match experience at the highest level. This summer, Tottenham Hotspur signed the fullback for a reported £16 million from Udinese. The deal involved Udogie staying in Italy for this season to continue his development. So far Udogie has featured in all of Udinese’s matches as they currently sit in a UEFA Champions League qualification place.
Having just been shortlisted for the Golden Boy award, there is no doubt that Spurs boss Antonio Conte will be keeping close tabs on how the young Italian develops ahead of his return following the end of the 2022/23 season.
This scout report will provide an analysis of how Udogie is one of the best up-and-coming fullbacks in Europe. It will be a tactical analysis of the 19-year-old and the tactics manager Andrea Sottil uses to get the best from him.
Udogie is a very sharp and athletic player. He plays as a wingback under Sottil and has exceeded in this position. He is comfortable with all the responsibilities it brings both defensively and offensively. He spends the majority of his time in very advanced attacking positions where he looks to receive the ball.
Udogie is used to playing as a wingback in a variation of a ‘back five’. The system that Udinese use is one similar to his parent club Tottenham. Both look to utilise a back five so Udogie will have a good understanding of his role in terms of positioning and what to expect.
One difference is that Udinese plays with a front two rather than a three that Spurs use, so some development in terms of link-up play and off-the-ball movement will most likely take place once he is integrated into Conte’s side.
As his heatmap shows, he is very good at maintaining width and making the pitch as big as possible. Udogie often finds himself receiving the ball almost on the touchline.
Furthermore, it is clear to see that Udogie covers the whole length of the pitch and continues to work hard for his team with and without possession.
Being part of an Antonio Conte team means that you must be prepared to defend, especially as part of the defensive unit. Udogie is a good defensive player who uses his physical attributes well. Standing at 6’2″ tall, Udogie is no pushover. The young defender is well able to go shoulder to shoulder with most wingers in the league.
The main feature of Udogie’s game is his aggressive nature off the ball. He is eager to make an impact defensively at the first given opportunity. On many occasions he wins the ball back in situations you wouldn’t expect. This is a great attribute to have as it sets his team up for many counterattacks.
His aggressive style sees him pick the pocket of opponents and his tall stature helps him to win the ball back. In the example below, Udogie wins possession fairly before starting a counterattack.
His defensive responsibilities allow for him to push further up the pitch and win the ball back in positions similar to this, something which he will look to carry over into the Premier League.
Not only is he aggressive but he is sharp and quick on his feet. By understanding the flow of the game and reading the opposition, he is able to make up ground to dispossess his opponents. Although he doesn’t make many interceptions, due to his aggressive style when his opponent takes a touch, he is immediately there to tackle them.
Above is an image where Udogie manages to stop his opponent from receiving the ball. Even with his positioning being a little far away from the Sassuolo player, he is able to react quickly and put his opponent under pressure.
Another key attribute that helps Udogie defend so well is his pace. He is so quick over both short and long distances that it helps him to recover defensively. He sometimes relays on his speed to get him out of jail when a difficult situation occurs.
It is important as a fullback to be alert to these situations and be able to cover for teammates as often situations like the above can occur. If someone is out of position, slips or just loses concentration, it is the fullback’s job to bail his teammate out.
Udogie is excellent at this and his pace certainly helps him to cover for teammates. Looking onto next season when he will potentially be playing Premier League football, it is important he continues to develop his defensive reading and positional understanding of situations like these.
However, there are some areas of weakness to his game, it must be noted that he is only young and is still learning and developing so it is likely that these will not be an issue forever. One main concern is his defensive understanding when in isolation during 1 versus 1 situations. As a wingback, scenarios like this occur many times over 90 minutes.
Udogie is sometimes indecisive in what to do, this leads to bigger problems being created as he tends to get caught in two minds. Firstly, if he should engage tightly with his opponent or secondly, delay and wait for support.
In the example shown above, Udogie is not close enough to engage but is also not in the correct position to delay. This causes his opponent to exploit the space that he has almost been gifted due to the wingback’s poor positioning.
To combat this, Udogie needs to have a more conservative approach to his style when defending 1 versus 1. he loves to engage quickly with opponents but, as you can see, sometimes it leads to him being caught out. He should have positioned himself a few yards deeper to ensure he has more control over the situation and his opponent.
In situations in the wide channels, Udogie sometimes relies on his speed to help him recover. On occasion, this works and he can regain possession after chasing down his opponent. However, it is a risky game to play as more often than not, the attacking player can make use of the extra yards and punish Udogie.
With the ball under his control, the Italian is a very strong attacker. Down the left side for Udinese, he enjoys the space ahead of him and regularly finds himself in the final third.
When he receives the ball, his first thought is immediately to look forwards and progress play. This is usually done by him dribbling the ball and taking it into the space ahead. Below is an example of where he knocks the ball past his opponent and sprints with the ball, even late on in the game he still manages to drive up the pitch.
Not only does this relieve pressure defensively but it also encourages his teammates to move up the pitch. Furthermore, he is very proactive in the final third and acts similarly to a winger in the sense that he looks to take on his opponent and beat him. He is confident with the ball at his feet and is able to come infield on his right foot as well as directly down the line on his preferred left.
When he beats his man he picks his head up to try and find a teammate who has made a run into the penalty area. His crossing ability is in need of some improvement. However, he does create dangerous opportunities in wide areas.
Above are Udogie’s penetrating carries so far this season. Having amassed 18 already, he is certainly a threat on the left side of the pitch. Confident and direct with the ball, he is well able to cause opposition defences trouble.
As mentioned, Udogie is comfortable on his weaker right foot. He is able to carry the ball inside and drive with it into the box. He likes to combine with teammates and scored a great goal earlier this season, pictured below, where he played a smart one-two pass inside the box.
The table below shows the percentile ranks of Destiny Udogie amongst all other Serie A fullbacks and wingbacks, who have played over 200 minutes so far this season.
Starting with the attacking data, those coloured pink, it is no surprise that the fullback excels in this part of his game. This could be due to the role he plays due to the fact he has a lot of attacking freedom and perhaps more than other fullbacks in the league. Nevertheless, Udogie is definitely a real attacking threat.
As previously touched on, his dribbling is exceptional and he ranks in the 86 percentile for dribbles per 90. A clear indication of how he likes to play and looks to impose himself on the game.
It is not only this stat which stands out but also the high rank for touches in the opposition box. Again he ranks very highly this time in the 93 percentile. This gives a clear indication of just how advanced Udogie plays when his side has the ball and along with the high score for progressive runs shows exactly what he is about.
A relatively low score for offensive duels won is worth mentioning as he is sometimes caught in possession of the ball having taken too long to make a pass. It is a side of the game that he will develop and improve on.
The defensive data, coloured white, paints a clear picture regarding Udogie’s nature off the ball. As mentioned he loves to engage quickly with his opponent and press them upon their first touch. Ultimately this results in a large number of fouls and Udogie ranks extremely high on this, 90 percentile. His discipline has been managed and he is often substituted once he receives a yellow card. This is mainly due to his physical approach and the way he tackles opponents.
He tends to not make many interceptions due to this. He ranks low for PADj interceptions, 7 percentile, but this is not reflective fairly of his defensive capabilities. The way manager Andrea Sottil sets his side up makes it difficult for Udogie to sit and wait for an opponent to make a pass that he can intercept.
A clear reflection of his defensive ability is the high rank for defensive duels won, 83 percentile. Udogie is strong and determined in winning possession back. He is great at winning battles with opponents due to his stature.
Passing data, coloured yellow, shows that Udogie is not yet the finished article. As briefly mentioned, Udogie does not attempt or complete many crosses, as his percentile rank shows, 14 percentile for crosses per 90. A telling part of this is his passes to the final third ranking. He is comfortable on the ball and is always looking to progress play forwards.
Overall, Tottenham fans can certainly be happy with the signing of Destiny Udogie. The young fullback will bring excitement and athleticism to the Spurs side. He fits perfectly into Antonio Conte’s team and with some more defensive development he will go on to have a successful career in London.
It was a shrewd bit of business by Spurs to send him back on loan whilst he continues his development, as his stocks will only go higher. Although Spurs fans will have to wait until next season at the earliest to watch their new signing, hopefully, it will be worth the wait.