Push Notification


Johan Bakayoko at PSV: The young Belgian winger linked with top clubs around Europe - scout report tactical analysis tactics

Johan Bakayoko 2022/23: What PSV’s 20 y/o winger could offer AC Milan or RB Leipzig – scout report

After making his Eredivisie debut in the 2021/22 season, the 2022/23 season became a breakout one for 20-year-old PSV winger Johan Bakayoko. Under former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, the young Belgian flourished for the Eindhoven-based side, making 39 appearances in all competitions for PSV while also contributing nine goals and six assists.

Now a new man is in charge in Eindhoven, with former Lyon, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, and Ajax boss Peter Bosz now in charge at the Philips Stadion. The Dutchman will likely be counting on Bakayoko, who was also handed his full Belgian debut by Domenico Tedesco not long ago.

However, clubs are now starting to circle for him, with RB Leipzig and AC Milan two clubs recently linked. This tactical analysis and scout report will take a look at Johan Bakayoko’s style of play and take a glance at how he may fit in at certain sides if he does move away from the Netherlands this summer transfer window. 

Player positioning 

Johan Bakayoko at PSV: The young Belgian winger linked with top clubs around Europe - scout report tactical analysis tactics

The data vis graphic above shows Johan Bakayoko’s heat map this past season for PSV in all competitions. As the heat map illustrates, the 20-year-old winger spends all of his time playing on the right wing, with Bakayoko playing as an inverted winger to be able to cut inside on his favoured left foot. He has a tendency to dribble at opposition full-backs, with the young Belgian not afraid to take defenders on in 1v1 situations.

Bakayoko does not tend to drift inside into central positions, and he prefers to keep the width and try to stretch the opposition’s defence with his pace and ability with the ball at his feet. He also possesses good vision, with the Belgian averaging over 30 passes a game with a success rate in the 80% range. This ability to pick out teammates and turn provider is also shown by his six assists for PSV in all competitions last season, highlighting that Bakayoko is more than just a winger who looks to score goals. 

He has, however, developed a pretty good knack for finding the back of the net, with him finishing one goal shy of double digits for PSV Eindhoven. He has also shown his talent at international level, with the 20-year-old scoring his first senior international goal on his fourth cap after being handed his debut by Domenico Tedesco. He is deployed in a similar role with Belgium, with Bakayoko operating as the right-sided attacking midfielder in Tedesco’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. It is similar to his right winger position in PSV’s 4-3-3, just with a deeper starting position. 

1v1 dribbling ability 

When it comes to analysing each of Johan Bakayoko’s strengths individually, the first thing that this scout report will look at is the Belgian winger’s ability in 1v1 dribbling moments. As we already saw from his heat map for PSV this season, Bakayoko looks to stay wide on the right touchline, looking to take defenders on and get past them using his dribbling ability. 

Johan Bakayoko at PSV: The young Belgian winger linked with top clubs around Europe - scout report tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows the progressive runs and dribbles attempted by Bakayoko in all competitions for PSV’s last campaign. It can illustrate how frequently he looks to take defenders on in these wide positions. This data vis graphic also shows the success rate of the young Belgian winger, with Bakayoko generally having a pretty good success rate when it comes to taking defenders on.

In fact, in all competitions for PSV last season, Bakayoko attempted 7.32 dribbles per 90 minutes with a success rate of 62.9%. At only 20-years old, the Belgian is beginning to develop into a prolific dribbler, something that clubs around Europe will surely be looking at to see how this skill continues to develop in the coming seasons. 

Johan Bakayoko at PSV: The young Belgian winger linked with top clubs around Europe - scout report tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows an example of the 1v1 dribbling capabilities of Johan Bakayoko. In this phase of play above against Ajax, the 20-year-old is isolated 1v1 on the far touchline against the Ajax full-back. Using his excellent close control and calmness while in possession, Bakayoko is patient, waiting for the full-back to make his move to try and win possession. Once the Belgian winger is able to get the full-back off balance, he uses a burst of acceleration to get past the defender on the outside. 

Due to the Ajax defender being off balance, Bakayoko can get past the full-back and send a cross into the central area. The ensuing cross is met by the head of PSV forward Luuk de Jong, with the Dutchman able to head the ball into the back of the net. In this specific example, Bakayoko’s trickery with the ball at his feet results in a goal for the Dutch side. 

Johan Bakayoko at PSV: The young Belgian winger linked with top clubs around Europe - scout report tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows another example of the dribbling ability of Johan Bakayoko, as well as his ability to sense danger in these 1v1 dribbling moments. In the phase of play above from an Eredivisie match against Sparta Rotterdam, the Belgian winger gets the ball played to him by the PSV centre-back, with the passing lane open due to the positioning of the opposition defenders.

With the full-back playing a bit more advanced and marking the potential passing option of the PSV full-back, Bakayoko is then put into a position where his closest defender is one of the Sparta Rotterdam centre-backs. 

As the ball is played to the winger, the central defender steps up to try and anticipate the pass and win possession back, but Bakayoko senses the impending danger. As a result, as the ball is played to him, the 20-year-old instead shields the defender and lets the ball run past him, with him then using his agility to quickly turn and use a burst of acceleration to catch up to the ball and be in behind the Sparta Rotterdam defence. This quick thinking and dribbling from the Belgian allows the ball to reach the opposition’s penalty area, where the subsequent cut-back pass from Bakayoko creates a goalscoring chance for the Dutch side. 

This example is able to highlight the quickness and turn of pace that the 20-year-old Belgian possesses, along with his close control capabilities in 1v1 dribbling moments. These things combined are a recipe for success for the young winger, with continued development giving him the potential to be a star in this aspect of his game. 

Vision and range of passing from the wing 

As mentioned in this scout report, Johan Bakayoko is not just a winger that looks to take opposition defenders on before beating them and taking a large number of shots on goal. One strong trait that the young Belgian possesses is his ability to pick teammates out in and around the penalty box, with Bakayoko consistently looking for the best options to get shots off on goal. 

Johan Bakayoko at PSV: The young Belgian winger linked with top clubs around Europe - scout report tactical analysis tactics

Overall, the young winger attempted 37.29 passes per 90 minutes last season in all competitions for PSV, with a completion percentage of 81.4%. He also played 4.43 passes to the penalty area per 90 minutes, with a completion rate of 49.1%. The data vis graphic above shows the progressive passes that Bakayoko played last season, with the ones highlighted in pink played into the penalty area. As we can see, most of them have been sent in from the right side, highlighting his tendency to operate most of the match on the right wing. 

Johan Bakayoko at PSV: The young Belgian winger linked with top clubs around Europe - scout report tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows an example of the vision and passing ability that Johan Bakayoko displayed during last season with PSV Eindhoven. In the phase of play above, the young Belgian winger is in possession and being closed down by two opposition defenders right on the edge of the penalty box. Instead of attempting to take both players on and dribble past them, the 20-year-old looks for a passing option. He can spot one of the unmarked midfielders just inside the penalty box as the defender dropped off to prevent a ball from being played by the winger across the face of the goal. 

Bakayoko uses his vision to spot the free man and can play a perfectly weighted pass past the two defenders and into the feet of the midfielder. The subsequent first-time effort is a shot on target by the player, with the goalkeeper able to save. However, this demonstrates that Bakayoko will not just take players on if there is not a potentially high success rate; instead, he will look for teammates who are better positioned inside the penalty area to create goalscoring chances. 

Johan Bakayoko at PSV: The young Belgian winger linked with top clubs around Europe - scout report tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows another example of the vision and range of passing that Johan Bakayoko possesses in the final third area of the pitch. In this phase of play above from an Eredivisie match against Vitesse, the Belgian is in possession in the final third with three defenders surrounding him.

The PSV full-back goes on an overlapping run past him, allowing one of the defenders to be dragged away from the winger. In the central area, the PSV midfielder makes a run into the space behind the Vitesse defender, who has stepped up towards the edge of the penalty area. 

Bakayoko can spot this run and plays a perfectly weighted pass into the runner’s path and into the space behind the Vitesse defence. The player receives the ball, and Bakayoko then makes a run into the penalty area to receive the pass back before attempting a shot on goal.

As this section has been able to illustrate, the 20-year-old winger is more than just a tricky winger looking to beat defenders with the ball at his feet. The Belgian possesses good vision and range of passing as well, making him much more than just a one-dimensional player in that aspect. 

How would Bakayoko fit in at AC Milan?

This next section will look at the potential fit for Johan Bakayoko at a couple of the clubs that the young Belgian winger has been linked to so far during this summer transfer window. This scout report will look at how the 20-year would fit in with the style of play of these sides, as well as what his potential role would be and what he could offer to these sides that they do not currently have. 

Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan is The first club heavily linked with the young Belgian. The Italian side are no stranger to signing young Belgian talent, with two recent examples being the acquisition of Alexis Saelemaekers from Belgian Pro League side Anderlecht, as well as Club Brugge’s young phenom Charles de Ketelaere last summer window.

Under Pioli, Milan set up in a 4-2-3-1, with the Italian tactician looking to play an attacking style of football, with his tactics looking to control possession and dominate their opposition when they have the ball. This is something that Bakayoko has already experienced during his first few caps with the Belgian national team. Under Domenico Tedesco, Belgium use a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Bakayoko playing as the right-sided attacking midfielder. This would be the role that he is likely put in at Milan. 

Last season at the Italian side, Brazilian Junior Messias was favoured in the right attacking midfield role. Still, Bakayoko would bring a different dimension to the Milan attack off this flank, especially with the news that the Brazilian may be set to leave the San Siro this summer. While Messias is a more technical player, relying on his finesse with the ball rather than pace to get past defenders, the young Belgian would bring a pacey skill set, along with a high-octane dribbling ability to the Italian side, similar to a Rafa Leão on the opposite flank.

When looking at the penetrating carries of both players, Johan Bakayoko had 152 penetrating carries into the penalty area in all competitions for PSV last season, while Messias only had 68. This highlights the danger the Belgian would bring to Milan, with a potential combo of him and the aforementioned Leão on the flanks for Milan dangerous for opposition full-backs to defend against. 

The big question mark, however, would be how quickly the 20-year-old would adjust to life in Serie A, with fellow Belgian Charles de Ketelaere not having a tremendous first season after making the jump from the Belgian league. He would surely bring another dimension to the Milan attack, which is getting revamped even more with the very close-to-done signing of United States international Christian Pulisic. 

How would Bakayoko fit in at RB Leipzig? 

Marco Rose’s RB Leipzig is the other club commonly linked with the Belgian winger. It is natural for the German side to be looking at someone like Bakayoko to be brought into their squad, with the Bundesliga side known to buy young players from all over Europe. Also this summer, Leipzig have lost both Christopher Nkunku to Chelsea and Dominik Szoboszlai to Liverpool. While the 20-year-old winger would not necessarily be a direct replacement for either player, he adds depth to a very young and talented Leipzig attack. 

The most significant change that Bakayoko would experience moving to Germany to join Marco Rose’s side is the system and style of play. While at Milan, he would slot into the right attacking midfield position in Stefano Pioli’s 4-2-3-1 formation; at Leipzig, he would be forced to play more centrally in the German manager’s preferred 3-4-2-1 formation. This would result in a stylistic change for Bakayoko, though the young winger’s pressing nature and ability on the ball could translate nicely to a more central position. He would not be able to drive at opposition defenders and take them on 1v1 nearly as often, and he also is not used to playing in a central position. 


After taking a closer look at both AC Milan and RB Leipzig, both destinations would definitely be fascinating next career steps for Johan Bakayoko. Both have their positives and negatives, offering different levels of playing time for the 20-year-old Belgian winger.

While it is hard to say which fit would be best for Bakayoko, he would likely adapt and excel wherever he moves next. As this scout report and tactical analysis has shown, Johan Bakayoko is a promising Belgian winger who may leave PSV and the Eredivisie and make a jump to another big club competing at even higher level sooner rather than later.