Josimar Alcócer: The 19 y/o Costa Rican talent on the verge of a move to Belgium – scout report
From a recruitment standpoint, one thing that Belgian clubs seem to do very well is recruit young talent from South America and develop them into outstanding players. Some examples include former Antwerp centre-back Willian Pacho, Genk’s Ángelo Preciado and Daniel Muñoz, among others. The point is that South America is a prime recruiting ground for Belgian football.
One exciting transfer that is rumoured to be in the works is 19-year-old Costa Rican winger Josimar Alcócer moving from Costa Rican powerhouse Alajuelense to Belgian Pro League side Westerlo. This tactical analysis and scout report will look at the strengths in Alcócer’s game and what he will bring to Jonas de Roeck’s side.
Positioning and style of play
The heat map above shows the positions that Josimar Alcócer takes up around the pitch, with the 19-year-old commonly being deployed as a left-sided midfielder or winger. Alcócer is very much a tricky winger, with the Costa Rican international looking to take fullbacks on 1v1 and drive towards the end line before delivering service into the box. The 19-year-old can also use his blistering pace to get past opposition defenders.
Standing at only 5 ‘7″, he is not a physical attacker, which is one of the weaker parts of the 19-year-old’s game. With that being said, he will hold his own against opposition defenders and even track back to help out on the defensive side of the game as well. Alcócer mainly looks to drive past players and drive at the end line, which will likely be a considerable asset to Westerlo. Under de Roeck, the Belgian side have been set up in a 4-4-2 formation so far this season, with Alcócer likely eventually settling in as the left-sided midfielder in this formation.
Dribbling ability and turn of pace to get past defenders
One of the strongest traits that Josimar Alcócer possesses is his dribbling ability, as well as his turn of pace and acceleration to get past opposition fullbacks around the outside. Through all his appearances with Alajuelense in the Costa Rican top flight, the 19-year-old has attempted 5.53 dribbles per 90 minutes, with a success rate of 55.3%.
The data viz graphic above shows the winger actions of Alcócer during his time with Alajuelense. As we can tell from the graphic, the left side of the final third is where he attempts most of his dribbles, showing he attempts to dribble past his opponents in the advanced areas of the pitch, which illustrates his tendency to create space for himself by taking opposition defenders on in 1v1 situations in these areas of the pitch. He does not attempt as many dribbles in the defensive half of the pitch, which shows the 19-year-old can pick the right moments to try and beat opponents 1v1.
The image above shows an example of the dribbling ability that Josimar Alcócer possesses and how he can create opportunities for himself and his teammates due to it. In this phase of play above, the winger finds himself on his least played right side of the pitch. At this moment and a few seconds before, when he was driving while in possession, there were no options around him to play the ball in an advanced area. The fullback has not made an overlapping run, and he does not have the space to send a cross into the box.
As a result of this lack of options, the Costa Rican international decided to take the fullback on 1v1, attempting to use his close control and dribbling ability to beat the defender on either side. This is precisely what happens, with Alcócer able to wrong-foot the defender, forcing him to face the outside and getting him off balance. This allows him to drive at an angle into the penalty box, where he dribbles past the centre-back, who moves out of position to engage him. He eventually loses possession, but it still highlights the danger he can cause when allowed to be isolated 1v1 against opposition defenders.
From a deeper position, the image above shows another example of the Costa Rican winger’s dribbling ability. In this phase of play, the 19-year-old had tracked back to potentially help in the defensive phase of play, though he was not needed in this instance. After Alajuelense win back possession, the ball is played forward to the winger, who is facing his own goal and has a defender on his back looking to counterpress him and regain possession in an advanced area.
Sensing the danger, Alcócer is able to take a really good first touch, with the ball almost sticking to his feet. This allows him to turn quickly and face the defender before he gets closed down. The 19-year-old can then show to the inside, getting the defender off-balanced before sending the ball past him around the outside and using a burst of acceleration to get onto the end of his own ball. This can demonstrate the turn of pace he possesses, as well as his awareness of his surroundings and calmness under pressure, at times, in these positions.
The final example above shows the recognition of space and first touch and dribbling of the 19-year-old winger. In this phase of play above, the ball is played long from the defensive midfielder, with Alcócer operating as the central striker in this attacking move. As he receives the ball, he is surrounded by two opposition defenders, with the defender to his right blocking the potential passing lane to the winger sitting in the wide channel.
However, there is also space to the right of the centre-back, who is not in the greatest body shape with him caught backpedalling towards his own goal. As a result, Alcócer takes a tremendous first touch, with the ball coming off his right foot and being directed into the vacant space out wide. The 19-year-old is then able to use a burst of acceleration to get past the defenders and onto the loose ball, eventually getting all the way to the penalty box and slotting home past the goalkeeper.
If the move to Westerlo gets finalised, Jonas de Roeck will be getting a winger with plenty of pace and the ability to dribble past opposition defenders at times with ease. It will definitely be a step up for the Costa Rican — one that may at first present a bit of a challenging adjustment period.
Crossing ability from wide areas and vision to pick out teammates
Another attacking trait that Alcócer has that is a strength of his game is his crossing ability from the wide areas. While we mentioned earlier that he has scored a decent amount of goals already at club level, his ability to pick out teammates as well will be a valuable trait in Belgian football. The 19-year-old Costa Rican international has five assists to his name in his career so far. At the same time, he also attempts 2.24 crosses per 90 minutes, a relatively high number for someone of his experience.
The image above shows an example of the crossing ability that Josimar Alcócer demonstrates on a relatively regular basis at club level. After receiving the pass from the opposite flank, the winger drives inside, heading towards the end line. As he begins to get closed down by the opposition defender, he can spot the run of the forward in the central area. Noticing the space he is running into, Alcócer plays a great ball across the box and into his teammate’s path, who taps it in for an easy finish.
This example can also demonstrate the vision that the 19-year-old displays on the ball, with him showing the ability to pick out a teammate with ease and calmness even when opposition defenders are closed down in the final third area.
This example above shows the 19-year-old’s ability to pick out teammates, even in rather tricky and fast-developing situations. In this phase of play above, Alcócer is played a ball in from the wide area, with the incoming cross overhit past the back post area where the Costa Rican international is positioned. However, the winger can use his pace to reach the ball before it goes past everyone and out of play for a throw-in.
He is able to spot his teammate free at the front post as he is travelling towards the ball, with his header directed in the direction of the unmarked attacker. As a result, the ball is headed home at this front post area, making it an easy tap-in for the striker and an easy assist for the winger to pick up.
As this tactical analysis and scout report has shown, Josimar Alcócer will be an exciting addition to Jonas de Roeck’s side and an attractive fit in the tactics of the Belgian manager. While Alcócer is still very young, as well as unproven in a major league, it would be unsurprising to in the future see Premier League clubs like Arsenal, Tottenham, and Chelsea circling for the Costa Rican international’s signature if his upward trajectory continues in European football.