Josha Vagnoman 2019/20 – scout report
2. Bundesliga is a really good place to go to if you’re looking for incredibly talented young players with reasonable price. Though it’s only a second-tier league, the level of football being played is pretty decent and there are plenty of young talents that can be discovered.
Hamburg full-back Josha Vagnoman is one of the numerous talents that have seen a rapid increase in interest as well as market value due to his exposure and impressive performances this season in the league.
Though the versatile full-back only has a total of eight appearances this season in all competitions and had to be sidelined for several months since November due to fractured foot, he has been extremely impressive in all his games in the current campaign and shown considerable development from last season.
Impressive physicality and athleticism
Vagnoman is a naturally athletic and powerful player. Standing 1.87 m (6’2”) tall and weighing 86 kg (190 lbs), Vagnoman has a decently developed upper and lower muscles. He has a medium build, not bulky and not lean either. It’s quite clear even from the first time watching him that his impressive physicality and athleticism are what stand out the most in his game.
His frame is quite big compared to an average full-back in Europe but he’s supported by his outstanding athleticism. His movements are not awkward and despite his size, he’s quite agile and very well coordinated, allowing him to manoeuvre and change directions with or without the ball rather easily. His good agility also allows him to make quick turns and change directions while in high speed as he doesn’t take much time to decelerate (or take an odd extra step when decelerating/changing directions) and he can adjust his body quickly and properly. His hips seem to rotate sufficiently and he doesn’t seem to struggle turning and twisting towards any directions.
Aside from his agility, Vagnoman has superior upper, core, and lower body power, displaying great strength and balance on and off the ball. He’s very hard to move off the ball and can be a rather difficult opponent to go against in both ground and aerial challenges.
Vagnoman also has a pretty decent burst of acceleration. While he can’t be described as explosive over short-range, he certainly possesses an outstanding amount of pace once he gets to his top speed. This is why Vagnoman can cover large distances very quickly although it takes a little time for him to get into stride. His excellent medium-long range speed is extremely useful as he’d use it most often in transitions, whether it be attacking or defensive transitions. This will be explained a bit later in this tactical analysis/scout report.
Vagnoman’s excellent strength helps him win a lot of defensive duels. The 2000-born full-back is usually able to outmuscle pretty much any winger he goes against and can give big trouble for attackers with similar or bigger size. Due to this, Vagnoman often doesn’t even have to stick out a leg to steal the ball but can just body charge his opponent off the ball to win possession.
When on the ball, it can be very difficult to win the ball from him as well. As mentioned previously, he’s quite agile and has pretty decent acceleration. He’s quick enough to turn and beat his defender after receiving the ball and he’s able to hold off defenders when dribbling – not easily shrugged off or rendered off balance. Vagnoman usually doesn’t play with his back to goal but when forced, he uses his body very well to shield and protect the ball.
Vagnoman’s impressive physicality helps him a lot in aerial duels. Statistically, the tall full-back averages 3.1 aerial challenges per game with a success rate of 53% which is pretty decent, but certainly can be improved.
His height coupled with excellent lower body power helps him reach great vertical distance when leaping, meanwhile his upper strength gives him great advantage against his opponent. Vagnoman often looks to use his physical advantage in aerial duels by participating in offensive set-pieces.
As can be seen above, Vagnoman tends to initially stand in the centre of the box, 11 yards from the goal. When the set-piece taker is preparing his run, Vagnoman will quickly move to attack the near-post. In set-piece situations, the player tends to attack the near-post although occasionally can be seen dueling in the centre of the box or in the far-post as well.
However, despite his superb physicality, Vagnoman is surprisingly not particularly strong in this area. This is due to his tendency to mistime his jump or misjudge the flight of the ball. As a result at times he’ll fail to connect his head with the ball and miss the header or even be beaten by slightly smaller or weaker players who manage to time their jumps perfectly.
Other times, Vagnoman can win an aerial duel but doesn’t manage to direct the ball towards the supposed target, making his header pretty much pointless as the second ball is eventually won by an opposing player. He sure can generate impressive power in his headers but surely, he needs to work on the accuracy as well.
Vagnoman is quite an energetic player but it’s quite visible that this is still an area that he still needs to improve on. Though he seems to play mainly as a defensive full-back, Vagnoman tends to run a lot both when his team is in possession and out of possession. He’d occasionally roam forward and make overlapping runs and then quickly track back when the team lose possession. He’s quite aggressive in defence but seems to pick his moments to press rather than running carelessly. What can be seen though, is that starting from midway through the second half he seems to lose a bit of pace and this can be seen when he’s going forward and tracking back. There’s also a subtle but not really significant drop of performance when he’s tired. He seems to tend to lose concentration a bit more often when fatigued. This results in him tending to react a bit slower to situations around him.
Ball-receiving and combinations
Vagnoman is quite neat on the ball and has good touch and control. The young German full-back is able to control the ball well with either foot or with his chest. Though sometimes a heavy touch can still be seen (especially when controlling difficult passes), his touch and control is mostly quite good.
When receiving the ball, Vagnoman tends to receive with his back foot and with an open shape rather than having his back facing the opposing goal. This allows him to have a good vision of the pitch.
When he has the ball on his feet, Vagnoman occasionally likes to drive forward but most often attempts to pass the ball towards more creative players. If all the near options are blocked, he will then look to take on his man and drive forward to create space and open passing lanes.
Though at first glance he may not look like a player who’ll attempt fancy moves, Vagnoman actually shows very high confidence as well as impressive technique and flair on the ball. Though mostly he’ll take advantage of his impressive athleticism when taking on one or multiple opponents, sometimes he’ll use tricks to get past his man. His good touch and control, as well as dribbling skills and athleticism, allow him to retain the ball in tight spaces and escape pressure if necessary. His ability to use either foot when dribbling or controlling the ball gives him much more flexibility on the ball as he can easily manoeuvre towards any direction he wants quite easily. His ability to use either foot comfortably when dribbling also makes him rather unpredictable on the ball.
Vagnoman averages eight offensive duels per game with a 45% winning rate. He also registers an average of 4.3 dribbles per game with a success rate of 55% which is certainly not bad at all.
When it comes to passing, Vagnoman mainly prefers to play short-medium passes into feet. He tends not to dwell on the ball and take only one or two touches when combining, allowing the team to move the ball in a quicker fashion. Vagnoman has the tendency to not play long diagonal passes to switch play but mainly look to play the ball towards his teammate on the same flank.
When combining, Vagnoman shows quick decision making and decent vision. He’s often able to spot space or teammate to pass the ball into very quickly, rarely hesitating when picking his pass and executes his passes well.
Statistically, Vagnoman averages around 44 passes per game with an impressive success rate of 86%. Though there’s no doubt that his passing ability is good, perhaps the high success rate can also be attributed to the fact that he tends to not play risky, aggressive passes, but mainly look to play short-medium safe passes.
Vagnoman averages 2.06 long passes per game with a success rate of 37%.
Though his passing is good and he combines well in wide areas, his crossing still needs some work.
Vagnoman has a tendency to deliver the ball from deeper areas although occasionally he’ll also make an overlapping run and receive the ball in the byline then cross it from there. When crossing from deeper positions, most of his crosses seem to be directed towards the far-post rather than central areas. Meanwhile, if he gets the ball in the byline, he tends to deliver a sharp low cross across the ground.
His execution, however, still needs some work. Often times when delivering a low cross, his cross end being inaccurate and fall into the feet of an opposing defender. Some other times the ball is too weak or too sharp. The former usually results in the opposing player successfully intercepting the cross while the latter usually results in nobody inside the box managing to touch the ball.
The same also applies when he’s trying a lofted cross. A lot of times he can be seen generating too much power, resulting in the ball being too sharp or too high and at times the cross is rather weak and easily intercepted.
On average, Vagnoman registers 1.52 crosses per game but with a rather disappointing 13% accuracy so it’s quite clear that this is still something he needs to work on.
Hamburg tend to defend with a medium-high block and an aggressive man-oriented pressing upfront. They seem to defend zonally, however, but will become temporarily man-oriented if the ball is moved wide. If the ball is on the flank, the ball-near players will immediately become man-oriented and mark the ball-near options while the ball-far players defend both their zones and the passing lane towards possible options. Their defence is rather compact vertically but has moderate width.
The 2000-born full-back has solid defensive prowess. His impressive agility and athleticism help him a lot as he’s often able to keep up with his opponents’ movements both on and off the ball when he’s marking an opponent. He’s also good at using space to manipulate an opponent into making a predictable decision. For example, at times he’ll give his man some space, making him think as if he’s free of marker. Meanwhile, with his teammates marking the other passing options, the ball carrier then will look to play the ball towards the “free” player. Once the ball is played, Vagnoman will quickly and aggressively close him down to try to win the ball.
Vagnoman’s positioning and use of space in defence are quite good. In 1v1 duels, for example, he tends not to square up to his opponent but tends to position himself in such a way that he can drive the ball carrier further from goal and tighten his space of movement.
His good tactical understanding, as well as communication and chemistry with his teammates, can often be seen by the way he quickly covers an open space whenever his teammate leaves his position – or if an opposing attacker moves away from his marker, Vagnoman will quickly move closer and mark the attacker if he’s inside his “defensive zone”.
Vagnoman is also strong when it comes to ball-winning ability. He’s aggressive but rarely reckless. He’s quite patient and will wait until there’s a moment to stick his leg out to win the ball before doing so. A lot of times, he’ll also take advantage of his impressive strength and athleticism to outmuscle his opponent and push him off the ball. Most of his challenges are well-timed and executed with precision so that he’ll be able to win the ball without committing a foul or striking the ball too far from himself. He mainly prefers to commit standing tackles rather than sliding tackles, unless there’s an opportunity to do so. When tackling it seems like Vagnoman doesn’t have any tendency as to which foot he uses to lead the tackle and there seems to be no significant difference in terms of effectiveness when leading the tackles with his right or left due to his two-footedness.
Stats-wise, Vagnoman commits an average of eight defensive challenges per game with a highly impressive success rate of 61%. The strong full-back also averages 3.2 tackles per game with a rather impressive success rate of 67%.
His average of 4.3 interceptions and 5.7 ball recoveries also prove his ability to read the game well.
Despite his defensive solidity, there are still some vulnerable areas that he still needs to improve when it comes to defending.
Although Vagnoman mainly has pretty good spatial and positional awareness as proven by his ability to use space to defend against attackers, he seems to lack the awareness of what’s going on behind him. For example, wingers or strikers who make movements in wide areas usually will go unnoticed. This renders Vagnoman to react slower, thus giving time and opportunity for the attacker to make a decision and take an action.
In the image above you can see Vagnoman fixating his eyes on the ball and not checking the surrounding situations but rather focusing on guarding the man in front of him. You can see while the other defenders have a more open body shape, Vagnoman’s shape is closed which is why he has little perception and information of what’s going on behind him
Tactical tendencies and role in Hamburg’s build-up and attack
Playing a defensive full-back role in Hamburg, it’s quite logical to see Vagnoman tends to position himself in his own half although there are some activities as well in the opposing team’s half. As you can see, when playing as a right-back, the full-back tends to stay wide. When playing as a left-back, Vagnoman usually stays wide as well, but occasionally cuts inside when he has the ball; especially around the final third.
Hamburg tend to play from the back with the goalkeeper preferring short distributions towards the two centre-backs inside the box with one pivot in the centre and two full-backs sitting wide but not staying too high. Vagnoman may not be involved much creatively, but he is often involved in the build-up at the back, helping the team progress the ball with his short progressive passes.
Above you can see the different tendencies of the two full-backs of Hamburg. While Tim Leibold (left-back) likes to sit in half-spaces and get into advanced areas as often as possible, Vagnoman tends to not sit very high and doesn’t get into advanced areas very often.
Occasionally, however, Vagnoman will join the attack and help his team circulate the ball in wide areas whenever the team is outnumbered and isolated in that area. In that particular situation, the right flank was overloaded by Stuttgart players and the ball carrier was isolated. Vagnoman made an overlapping run and made himself available as a short passing option upfront.
Vagnoman combines well on the flank and although he’s a defensive full-back, he definitely doesn’t lack attacking prowess as well. Above he showed ability to spot an opening and showed good initiative in attack to exploit that space and make an inward run from wide after exchanging passes with his teammate. Vagnoman then received the ball and had time and space to make his decision and take his next action.
With football being postponed, Vagnoman has more time to recover and gain his fitness level back after being out of action for a rather lengthy time due to his fractured foot injury but perhaps he may be available again in the starting lineup once football is restarted. Though his spell this season is rather brief, we can already see his immense potential but his injury certainly has disrupted his development. He still has a lot of time to improve though as he’s still very young.
Currently, there are several clubs that are extremely interested in bringing in the versatile full-back with English side Newcastle United even already making an approach to sign the player. Previously, Premier League giants Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City have also been rumoured to be interested in signing the exciting prospect.