Hassane Kamara at Nice 2019/20 – scout report
While the mercato has only been open for a short time in Ligue 1, Nice are already proving to be very active. Morgan Schneiderlin (Everton), Robson Bambu, the talented Amine Gouiri and Flavius Daniliuc have already joined the Nice team, and the club has great ambitions for the years to come. Hassane Kamara is also among them. After an excellent 2019/20 season at Reims, Kamara was transferred to Nice for four million euros.
Patrick Vieira, the Nice coach, had made the left-back position one of his priorities for the summer mercato, and Kamara’s arrival seems to be a good deal. The former Reims left-back shone last season with his attacking contribution and ability to be solid defensively. He made a good contribution to Reims’ superb season, which finished fifth to everyone’s surprise. In this tactical analysis, in the form of a scout report, we will look at Kamara’s player profile and what he can bring to his new team.
Kamara is left-footed and is a fairly versatile player on the left side. Although his preferred position is that of left-back, the 26-year-old Franco-Ivorian can also play higher up the pitch as a left-midfielder (several matches in this position this season). This shows both his adaptability and versatility in several different tactics. He can be imagined as an offensive wing-back in three-man defence tactics, as well as a left-back in a four-man defence, as he was in Reims. Given that Nice have mainly played with a four-man defence this season, Kamara will not be confused.
It should be noted that Vieira asked his full-backs to be quite cautious offensively and not to be too high on the pitch. We’ll see later on, but Stanley N’Soki, Racine Coly and Malang Sarr, who have all taken turns as left-backs this season with Nice, have weak attacking stats. The idea for Vieira, whose team had good average ball possession (53.3% and was the third team to make the most passes per 90), was to not suffer on defensive transitions when the ball was lost and to have full-backs capable of covering spaces. Although this tactical peculiarity may have been intended by the former Arsenal player Vieira, the profile of his full-backs may have prevented him from giving them more offensive responsibility.
Nsoki, who has played the most as a left-back this season, is also capable of playing as a central defender. He is regularly seen dropping as a left centre-back (to form a three-man defence) to help with the build-up, as he has good distribution and is able to improve the game through passing. Kamara has a different profile. As you can see on the heatmap, the 26-year-old left-back has a great work-rate in his left flank and is looking to bring some presence in the last 30 metres, with a fairly off-centre position.
The left-back’s offensive contribution has evolved greatly over the years until he became a major offensive element in his team. Kamara is what is known as a modern full-back because he is able to respond to the offensive and defensive demands of his team. He can stretch the opponent’s block by his positioning, run inside the opponent’s block, combine with his winger and put his partners in a scoring position.
The former Reims player is very lively and fast. He has a small size but he is powerful (168cm and 67 kilos), therefore very solid in duels. His agility and coordination also allow him to be able to resist against very dynamic wingers. Its running speed is as important for defensive transitions as its forward runs, with or without the ball.
The following graphs show the data for Ligue 1 full-backs, which have at least 600 minutes of play in the previous season. The blue circles represent Coly, Nsoki and Sarr and the red circle represents Kamara. Even though Sarr plays mainly as a central defender, he has played a few games as a left-back. The idea is to compare the profiles of these players with Kamara and see what the latter could bring to his new team. Note that Sarr’s stats should be nuanced by the fact that he played mainly as a central defender.
As mentioned earlier Kamara is an offensive-minded left-back who often looks to burst forward. He progresses the game more through running than passing. The 26-year-old carries the ball well and is able to destabilize the opposing block with his speed and dynamism. As shown in the graph above, Kamara is one of the very best players in Ligue 1 in his ability to win metres towards the opponent’s goal. He made 3.56 progressive run per 90 and combines this with good dribbling stats. He attempts 3.66 dribbles per 90 and has a 68.92% success rate, which is quite impressive.
In addition to being able to put a lot of speed into his runs with the ball, he is technically capable of surprising and eliminating his opponents. He is a player who takes risks but is a constant threat because of his ability to take and attack spaces. Kamara is one of the best in Ligue 1 in this area and he brings much more through his runs than Nice’s left-backs. If you compare Nsoki (Nice’s main left-back this season) and Kamara, you can see that their roles were quite different. Nsoki was much more involved in the build-up, from a lower and more cautious position, while Kamara was much more offensive in his mentality. Nsoki made 11.23 progressive passes by 90 against 8.22 for the former Reims player.
The graph above shows the offensive impact of the Ligue 1 fullbacks. The vertical axis composed of xA+xG shows how decisive they could have been while the horizontal axis shows the number of successful attacking actions per 90. Once again, Kamara is one of the best. Although his team (Reims) was the second-worst attacking team in Ligue 1 in terms of goals scored, he is still well above average in terms of xA+xG (2.41) and is one of the best in terms of successful attacking actions per 90 (4.16). And that confirms that with the arrival of Kamara, Vieira will have to adapt his tactics, as he will have a real attacking asset and a very different profile from Nsoki. The gap between the Franco-Ivorian and the Nice players is quite striking on this graph and underlines the fact that Kamara is quite complete in attack (two goals this season, including one against PSG).
On the action above, Kamara is pressed by two Marseille players. He quickly notices that if he manages to escape from this pressure, he can take advantage of a large space on his left flank. The 26-year-old left-back turned his body towards the centre of the pitch to ask for support from one of the midfielders, who would act as a relay for a one-two.
One of his team-mates drops to help him, and on the passing time, Kamara launches his run straight ahead into the open space. His teammate gives the ball back to him perfectly in the open space and Kamara can pick up speed with the ball. What is interesting about this action is that a lot of defenders would have cleared the ball. In addition to being good at running forward, Kamara also knows how to create space for himself.
As shown in the graph above, Kamara is the full-back with the most shots this season, as well as the most shots per 90. The Franco-Ivorian made 1.39 shots per 90 and has scored two goals this season in Ligue 1. He has a good shooting quality and it also shows that he’s confident. His xG/shot is 0.05 as he often strikes from positions where the chances of scoring are low.
In the above action, Kamara is off centre to the left of the penalty area. The angle of the shot is quite small given his position and the presence of a Monaco player in front of him. However, the 26-year-old player looks at the goalkeeper’s position and notices that he anticipates a cross rather than a shot. As a result, the keeper opens up an interesting space between himself and his left post. Kamara did not hesitate and made a powerful shot full of spontaneity, which ended in a superb goal. The shot is estimated at 0.02 of xG by Understat and allows his team to equalize.
The mental aspect must be taken into account in the analysis of Kamara. He shows a very strong desire and determination in everything he does. That sometimes makes him lose a little bit of lucidity in his choices, but it also makes him sharp and unpredictable. Whether in the defensive or offensive phase, Kamara never gives up and always gives the best of himself. That goal against Monaco sums up his determination, desire and spontaneity.
However, what is also required of a full-back is to defend his side well and to be solid in the duel. The graph above shows on the vertical axis the percentage of defensive duel won and on the horizontal axis the number of successful defensive actions per 90. Although Kamara has a lower percentage of defensive duels won (63.47%) than Sarr (65.91) and Nsoki (68.32), he is much better than them in the number of successful defensive action per 90 with 12.72 per 90.
His great acceleration on the first meters allows him to often take advantage over his direct opponent and rarely be outpaced. Kamara is dribbled past only 1.16 times by 90, against 1.36 for Sarr and 1.56 for Nsoki. The former Reims player is also the most successful full-back in sliding tackle with 1.56 par 90, and 73.9% of success rate. The Franco-Ivorian excels in the one on one situations., which is very important for a left-back.
Even in the aerial duel, Kamara remains more than correct with 62.26% of aerial duels won against 70% for Nsoki (184cm and 168 for Kamara). The 26-year-old player shows that he knows how to be solid defensively and that makes him all the more interesting. Nowadays, more and more coaches expect a full-back to perform well offensively, but the defensive part should not be overlooked, and it remains a major component of this position. The stats reveal little failure in Kamara’s defensive play. Perhaps he could be blamed for his reading of the game, which is not excellent. His high work-rate sometimes makes him lose his lucidity and one feels it on his positional mistakes or bad anticipations. But his natural fitness allows him to correct these small mistakes, and to be able to intervene despite a delay in decision making.
In the picture above, Kamara is in one on one against Hiroki Sakai from Marseille. The latter takes advantage of Kamara’s body-oriented in front of him to try to outpace him with a bridge skill. The new player from Nice starts late as he has to turn around and then accelerate. But Kamara’s explosiveness and his great acceleration allow him to be the first on the ball. It is interesting to see how Kamara uses his body and especially his shoulders to keep Sakai away from the ball. With a small centre of gravity, the 26-year-old left-back is very solid in the defensive duel and has good balance, which allows him to stay on his feet.
Area of improvement
As mentioned earlier in this tactical analysis in the form of a scout report, it is in creativity with the ball that Kamara can improve. He has decent stats in this area and is not a player who advances the ball through passing. The average Ligue 1 player made 5.8 passes per 90 in the final third, while Kamara made only 4.5. Similarly, the average player made 8.9 progressive passes per 90 and 8.22 for the former Reims player.
On the graph above, you can see the type of passes made by Kamara on the left, and by the average Ligue 1 full-back (average of all full-backs in the league). We can see that Kamara has a much lower propensity to play forward and that 43.9% of his passes are lateral. Similarly, he only makes 34.6% of his passes forward, compared to 43.8% for the average player. The former player from Reims is quite cautious and does not have a passing quality that allows him to perform well in this area. However, even though Kamara hasn’t made any assists this season, he remains interesting in his cross quality. This season he made 3.22 crosses by 90 with 38.46% success, which is good compared to the average (32% of success rate for the average player). It will be interesting to judge his performance and his offensive contribution to a team that is more offensive. During the 2019/20 season, Reims scored only 26 goals, compared to 41 for Nice.
In this tactical analysis, in the form of a scout report, we saw how Kamara’s transfer to Nice was a very good thing for him and his new club. The former Reims player will be able to express himself more, in a more offensive team that has a very ambitious sporting project for the coming years. Nice will be able to benefit from Kamara’s strong offensive contribution and strengthen the left-back position. The Franco-Ivorian was one of the best players in his position last season, and this transfer will allow him to confirm his progress in a league he knows well.