France just never seem to run out of exciting talents and they certainly won’t for long years to come. Batches after batches after batches of young exciting prospects rise to the surface every year. Some of them flourish in Ligue 1 while some other conquer top-level leagues abroad.
Another French youth talent that we’re going to take a closer look at in this scout report is Haissem Hassan from Châteauroux. The 2002-born explosive winger has been a crucial part of Châteauroux this season. Though he hasn’t contributed with a goal or an assist yet this season, he has been one of the creative sparks in his team.
A raw talent who’s gifted with pace and athleticism and possesses excellent technique on the ball already, Hassan certainly has what it takes to step up and play in a higher level of football. He’s still young and inexperienced. Still needs to be more mature in terms of mentality and develop his tactical understanding. However, there’s no doubt at all that this boy is talented and if developed properly, he can definitely thrive at the very top level.
Hassan is 1.77m (5’10”) tall with a medium build, not too skinny and not too bulky. Despite only being 17 years of age, Hassan seems to already have developed (though not particularly, yet) his upper and lower muscles. He just seems to be physically gifted.
With this average frame and decently-developed upper and lower muscles, Hassan seems to possess fairly decent strength although he still shows an inability to beat larger, more powerful opponents in duels. He can be seen struggling to hold on to the ball when he’s trying to shield the ball and a stronger opponent is pushing and putting more pressure behind him.
Despite his lack of strength, Hassan has excellent agility as well as body balance and coordination. This makes him extremely mobile and very good at staying on his feet. This is also why it’s very difficult to win the ball from him when he’s already into his stride, especially without conceding a foul. Usually, his opponents will be very cautious and patient in 1v1 situations. They’d often try to shadow him and keep up with him, trying to predict his next moves. They’d also try to keep him from going inside and steer him towards the outer side of the field, often bringing multiple men to put him under intense pressure.
Understandably, rushing to stick a leg out and tackle him can be pretty clumsy as once he gets past a defender, it can be quite difficult to catch up due to his burst of acceleration and pace. Hassan is very sharp over short, medium, or long distance.
Hassan mainly uses his impressive agility and explosiveness to beat players. He’d feint one way before quickly going the other way with the ball, leaving his opponent trailing. His agility and speed over short, medium, and long distances are not only useful when he’s on the ball, but also when he’s off the ball. Often times he can be seen making a run/dropping to drag a defender out of position and create space before quickly turning around and running into space.
Despite his superb agility, balance, and speed, Hassan seems to not have a very high level of endurance. This can be seen through the player’s body gestures and reactions (or lack thereof) on certain occasions. For example, Hassan seems to be quite slow when getting back into position or tracking back when in transition. Instead of quickly sprinting into the designated spot, he’d often just walk or do a little jog – often letting the opposing players get past him very easily as he tries to close them down.
Usually, in the second half, Hassan shows a little drop of performance in attack but seems to become a bit more ‘lazy’ in defence. This is due to him seemingly trying to engage less in defensive challenges, being less aggressive in closing down the opposition, and preferring to stay a bit higher rather than dropping deep in the defensive phase.
Touch and control
Right from the start, it is very much clear that Hassan’s strongest attribute is his technical ability. Especially his touch and control.
Hassan shows no tendency to control the ball (when receiving) or push the ball (when dribbling) with only one foot (his strongest foot). He’s very good with using either foot to control the ball even when receiving difficult passes. His ability to control the ball well with either foot also means that he virtually has no weaker side. A defender will often try to push him to the outer side of the field, but he’ll usually just shift the ball towards his other foot and dribble away.
The 2002-born player will often try to receive the ball with his back foot and with open body shape to get a wider vision of the pitch. This allows him to quickly react and execute his next move upon receiving the ball. This also means that opposing players usually will have less time to react and get close to him when the ball’s played towards him.
Another big advantage due to his ambidexterity is that he can be very versatile and really unpredictable. This means that Hassan can play on either wing and able to be used as an inside forward/inverted winger or a traditional one, however, the player himself seems to have the tendency to cut inside and drive inside the box.
Hassan really loves to take on one or multiple defenders. His excellent agility combined with body balance and coordination makes him a very difficult man to win the ball from as mentioned earlier in this tactical analysis. A mixture of technique, flair, creativity, mobility, and explosiveness makes Hassan an amazing dribbler. His quick feet and rapid (and constant) change of directions when dribbling can easily make defenders lose their balance.
Statistically, Hassan averages around 6.4 dribbles per game with an impressive success rate of 57%. This makes him Ligue 2’s fifth-best dribbler. Caen’s exciting prospect Caleb Zady Sery, meanwhile, tops the league’s best dribblers chart with a highly impressive eight dribbles per match and success rate of 60%.
Distribution and delivery
Hassan is actually quite good at short/medium range passing and these are the two types of passes that he does most. Meanwhile, occasionally, he can also be seen attempting long passes (especially when switching play or on the counter). This, however, is a bit rare to see due to him playing in an advanced position and his tendency to play short rather than long. This could perhaps also be due to the coach’s instructions.
His passing stats are fairly good. Hassan averages around 25 passes per game with 81% accuracy with 1.45 of those passes being long passes (42% accuracy).
Hassan tends to try to get inside the box or at the edge of the box when crossing though, rather than delivering from out wide. He also tends to deliver this low, sharp cross across the opposing goal that is hard to anticipate for the opposing goalkeeper.
The 17-year-old winger averages around 4.7 crosses per game this season with a 36% accuracy which is a pretty decent number.
His good distribution ability seems to be mainly due to his good technique and vision. He tends to play the ball with pace to make it difficult for defenders to deal with. He also seems to time his passes pretty well most of the time.
Though being a pretty good passer, Hassan still needs some work when it comes to his decision making when passing. Some of the times he seems to deliver passes that are too sharp for his teammates and some other times just plain lacking in accuracy, giving the ball straight to the opposition. He does need to make better decisions as to where he should put the ball into upon seeing his teammate’s movements – whether he should play it to feet or into space.
This may be quite vital as he at certain occasions can be seen destroying his team’s momentum and opportunity to attack (especially in transitions) by making the wrong decision. I believe this still shows lack of experience and game intelligence but I’m sure he will get much better in this particular area as time goes by.
Hassan is a good striker of the ball. He shoots well with either foot although seemingly slightly more polished with his left. Hassan is able to effortlessly produce a powerful shot with a good curve to it due to his power and technique.
Let’s take a look at the shot map of his this season below.
As you can see, Hassan has the tendency to drive inside the box before taking a shot rather than attempting one from outside the box. Most of his shots are also produced in the half-space channel, mainly due to his tendency of cutting inside from wide and then taking the shots from half-space.
Statistically, Hassan manages to collect an average of 1.1 shots per game with a shot accuracy of 55% which is pretty impressive.
Positioning and movements
Hassan plays either as a left or right-winger in Châteauroux’s 4-3-3 tactics.
He’s quite flexible in his positioning and often will swap positions with his partner on the other side of the flank.
The picture above is Hassan’s heatmap this season. As you can see, he covered almost exclusively the opposition area which means that his low defensive work rate is not completely unfounded. Most of his activity, as you can see, are generated on the flanks, close to the touchline rather than in the half-space despite his tendency to cut inside and drive inside the box with the ball.
When off the ball, Hassan tends to stay close to the touchline. However, as mentioned previously in this tactical analysis, when on the ball he has the tendency to cut inside and drive into the box.
Some other times, he can be seen positioning himself quite high and wide initially but will often move inside to create some space for the full-back to exploit or to add to the numbers in central areas. This is to provide support and add to the numbers around the final third in the centre and allows the full-back some space out wide to exploit with an overlapping run.
However, this seems to be some sort of improvisation though because if there’s an attacking midfielder or a central midfielder occupying that half-space, he tends to still stay wide before receiving the ball.
This is quite good as this shows his impressive positional and spatial awareness and understanding with his teammates.
One of the other reasons he tends to stay wide is that he can stretch the opposition defence with his positioning as can be seen in the picture below.
Against opposition with a narrow defence who tend to overload centrally, he can be a very dangerous player out wide.
The picture above is an example of him staying wide and exploiting space given to him due to the opposition’s narrow defensive line. In this situation, France U17 tried to switch the play from the right flank towards the left flank. They moved the ball from the right to the centre and combined there briefly which can be seen attracting multiple Haiti U17 players to press and compress space in the centre. Hassan stayed close to the touchline before making an inward run into the edge of the box to exploit the space given to him.
By sitting wide, Hassan can also isolate the opposing full-back and put him in a 1v1 situation. This can definitely be advantageous for him as he has outstanding 1v1 ability and can often easily beat defenders with his dribbling skills, agility, and explosiveness. This shows Hassan’s understanding of his own ability and his strong attributes.
Aside from the aforementioned lack of strength and stamina, there are also some other weaknesses that Hassan definitely still needs to work on.
Hassan is a very confident player which is shown by his tendency to take risks, take on multiple players, and try tricks and skill moves when dribbling. Though he’s not always successful in doing those risky moves, Hassan always seems to try again and again and again.
This high level of confidence, though maybe positive, can also affect his game rather negatively – especially in his decision making. At certain times, he can be seen forcing himself to drive forward and take on multiple players when he could have passed the ball towards a teammate in space and combine tor progress. Some other times, he’s far too ambitious but careless with his passing. If he can be a bit more cautious in his choices in advanced areas, perhaps he can help his team retain possession better without compromising his attacking output significantly.
His lack of defensive effort may also be a problem. Hassan often seems to show disinterest in defending, often late to close down opposing players, late to track back, and not actively engaging in duels. This often means that the full-back on the same flank will have to work harder in defence.
Hassan only averages around 1.6 defensive challenges per game with a pretty disappointing winning rate of 38%. Comparing him to Bodø/Glimt wonderkid and future AZ Alkmaar player, Håkon Evjen – the versatile winger who can also play in a full-back role averages around seven defensive challenges per match this season with an impressive success rate of 58%. The talented Norwegian youth international also average at least around six tackles per game with a 60% success rate.
His low defensive work rate and lack of defensive contribution is a bit worrying but may also be linked to his fairly low level of endurance. However, this may also show his lack of commitment in the game.
A sharp and explosive winger with flair, creativity, technique, and elegance – Haissem Hassan looks to be a potential world-beater.
Utilising dribbling skills and tricks up his sleeve, Hassan can glide past multiple defenders easily and this stupendous attribute of his can be very much useful for his team as he can create a numerical superiority on one side of the field and even create a meaningful chance after a successful dribbling attempt.
He does have a few weak points in his game though but he still has a lot of room and time for improvement. With more game time and proper training, there’s little doubt Hassan can reach and perhaps even conquer the very top level. But he’s still very young and very raw.
Barcelona and Watford were both rumoured to be interested in the player this summer. The latter had even launched a bid of €2.5m for the exciting winger, however, he was holding out for a move to Barcelona instead and a transfer to England didn’t materialise in the end. There’s a big chance that the player may be seeking a move next summer or even in the winter transfer window.
I believe Hassan can currently feature as a first-team player for mid-level Jupiler Pro League clubs or lower-level Eredivisie clubs.
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