Felix Nmecha at Dortmund 2023/24: Envisioning his impact for Edin Terzic – scout report
Borussia Dortmund secures talented midfielder Felix Nmecha from VfL Wolfsburg in a strategic move. The player has signed a contract until 2028 and will wear the number 8 jersey. While the transfer fee was not disclosed, Nmecha’s previous contract with Wolfsburg was until 2025, and the overall cost for BVB, including bonuses, is estimated to be around €30 million.
It can’t be ignored that controversy arose over Dortmund’s reported interest in this signing when concerns were raised due to past statements made by the midfielder on social media deemed homophobic or transphobic — and contradictory to Borussia Dortmund’s code of values.
The signing has been completed, so this tactical analysis and scout report will focus on what Nmecha brings to Dortmund. Also, in this analysis, we will identify how he fits into Edin Terzić‘s tactics at the Champions League club.
Nmecha, born to a German mother and a Nigerian father, grew up in Hamburg before relocating to England with his family. He began his football journey at Manchester City and subsequently played for both German and English youth national teams. During his stint at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, he earned a call-up to the German national team under Hansi Flick’s leadership.
Felix Nmecha is a highly flexible player who possesses the ability to excel in various midfield positions. He has showcased his versatility throughout his career by featuring in different roles on the pitch. In the previous season, Nmecha demonstrated his adaptability by predominantly playing as an attacking midfielder and central midfielder. However, he also made notable contributions as a central defensive midfielder and even on the wing. This flexibility highlights Nmecha’s wide-ranging skill set and his capacity to contribute effectively in different areas of the pitch.
Nmecha possesses a range of strengths that contribute to his overall performance on the field. As a midfielder, he displays exceptional dynamism and versatility. Despite his height of 1.90 meters, Nmecha exhibits remarkable mobility and agility. His speed is impressive, with an acceleration and mobility that allows him to reach a very high speed. Notably, he also excels in aerial duels, displaying his strength in the air. His physicality is a significant asset in both attacking and defensive actions.
His best role is playing as a box-to-box midfielder. This player type excels in pressing the opposition in their half, engaging in numerous pressing actions. While box-to-box midfielders don’t frequently dribble when in possession, they contribute to chance creation through passing. Defensively, they participate moderately in recoveries and pressing in advanced areas, typically without close coordination with their teammates.
Felix Nmecha’s impact in the attacking phase is notable, as he possesses the qualities to create scoring opportunities for his team. His vision, passing ability, and creativity make him a valuable asset when it comes to unlocking defences. Nmecha excels in his passing execution in the final third and showcases excellent ball control, allowing him to maintain possession and create chances for his teammates.
When it comes to taking shots on goal, Nmecha displays impressive proficiency. His willingness to test the goalkeeper and his accuracy in finding the target make him a threat in the final third. One of Nmecha’s strengths lies in his ability to time and execute offensive runs effectively. He has a good understanding of when to make forward movements, exploiting spaces in the opposition’s defence to create scoring opportunities. This dynamic and proactive approach to his game adds another dimension to his attacking contributions.
Additionally, Nmecha’s positioning in the opponent’s penalty area is noteworthy, as he consistently finds himself in advantageous positions to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
In the defensive phase, Felix Nmecha showcases a solid level of involvement in duels, although he doesn’t stand out in terms of the number of duels he engages in. However, where he truly shines is in his ability to win those duels. Nmecha consistently demonstrates a high success rate when competing for the ball, especially in aerial duels.
His prowess in aerial duels is awe-inspiring, as he displays both quality and quantity in this aspect of the game. Despite his height, Nmecha exhibits excellent timing and technique, allowing him to come out on top in aerial battles against taller opponents. His ability to win headers provides an advantage in defensive situations and contributes to his team’s ability to regain possession.
Nevertheless, there are areas of improvement for Nmecha in the defensive phase. One aspect that requires development is his positioning. While he has the physical attributes to compete effectively, his positioning on the field can sometimes be suboptimal. Enhancing his understanding of defensive positioning and anticipating opponents’ movements will enable him to make more impactful interventions and contribute to his team’s defensive solidity.
Additionally, Nmecha’s off-the-ball movement could benefit from refinement. Developing better awareness of his surroundings and making intelligent runs to close passing lanes or apply pressure on opponents would enhance his defensive contribution. Improved movement would allow him to intercept passes, disrupt opposition attacks, and provide valuable support to his teammates in defensive transitions.
Overall, Nmecha’s defensive abilities are characterized by his proficiency in duels, particularly in aerial situations. However, refining his positioning and off-the-ball movement will further enhance his defensive impact. With continued development in these areas, Nmecha has the potential to become an even more formidable presence in the defensive phase of the game.
In the context of Borussia Dortmund’s squad, the departure and arrival of players have had an impact on certain aspects related to ball retention and ball progression. Notably, the departed players were highly proficient in both passing and carrying the ball forward, which greatly contributed to the team’s ability to maintain possession and advance it.
However, when players join a team that heavily relies on ball dominance, it raises the question of whether their weaknesses in possession will be exposed or their strengths will be amplified. When examining Nmecha’s statistics, he ranks low in terms of pass completion percentage and passes attempted. Furthermore, his accuracy in short passing is below par.
These rankings suggest that as he transitions to a ball-dominant team like Borussia Dortmund, he may encounter challenges in keeping up with more skilled teammates who prioritize maintaining possession.
In Felix Nmecha’s case, his performance in possession shows promise but also areas for improvement. There is still room for growth in the passing game, particularly outside of the final third. Currently, Nmecha’s pass completion rate stands at 78.8%, indicating that there is a need to refine his accuracy in delivering passes to his teammates.
Additionally, Nmecha has yet to excel in making progressive passes from midfield, which are crucial in creating opportunities and opening up the play. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that Nmecha is a young player, and with experience and continued training, there is potential for him to enhance his passing abilities.
The adaptation of Nmecha to the demands of a possession-oriented team like Borussia Dortmund remains to be seen.
Role at Dortmund
Felix Nmecha’s arrival at Borussia Dortmund has sparked discussions among fans and media regarding his role in the team and whether he is a replacement for Jude Bellingham, who recently departed for Real Madrid. To shed light on this comparison, we can utilize our xGold data tool to analyze both players head-to-head.
It’s worth noting that both Nmecha and Bellingham exhibit vital attributes across various aspects of their game. However, Bellingham stands out in attacking actions and has a particularly impressive ability to progress the passing game. On the other hand, Nmecha excels more in defensive aspects and showcases stability in that area.
If Dortmund continues to deploy a 4-3-3 formation in the upcoming season, it is more likely that Nmecha will be seen as a perfect partner for Julian Brandt. Both players are expected to occupy the “number 8” positions, playing ahead of central defensive midfielder Emre Can and behind the three forwards, such as Karim Adeyemi, Sebastien Haller, and Donyell Malen.
Nmecha’s defensive physicality and prowess in goal-scoring opportunities make him a suitable complement to Brandt, who has shown attacking-mindedness but has struggled to provide consistent goal-scoring output in recent years. On the other hand, Brandt excels in creating opportunities with his passing and creativity, and he is more comfortable on the ball.
While Felix Nmecha is not necessarily a direct replacement for Jude Bellingham, he will likely form a productive partnership with Julian Brandt in the midfield. Nmecha’s defensive strengths and goal-scoring abilities complement Brandt’s passing and creativity, providing a well-rounded combination that can contribute to Dortmund’s attacking prowess.
Overall, Nmecha’s ability to seamlessly transition between various midfield roles speaks volumes about his versatility. His understanding of different positions allows him to contribute effectively to the team’s overall strategy and provides his coaches with valuable tactical options. Stepping into a team that expects to dominate possession on a regular basis presents a challenging task.
While having better teammates to pass to could enhance his effectiveness, it remains an intriguing gamble for both Nmecha and the club. As he continues to develop and refine his skills, Nmecha’s versatility will undoubtedly be a key asset for Borussia Dortmund, enabling him to make a significant impact wherever he is deployed on the pitch.