Mike Trésor: The Belgian attacking midfielder having a breakout season with KRC Genk – scout report
After starting his senior career in the Netherlands with NEC, and then moving on to Willem II, Mike Trésor joined Belgian Pro League side KRC Genk in the summer of 2021 for a fee of around four million euros. After joining, Trésor had a bit of an up-and-down campaign, which could be put down to an acclimation process, as well as a managerial change midway through the season.
However, under new manager Wouter Vrancken, Trésor has shone brightly so far this season, arguably being Genk’s best player since replacing the departed Junya Ito in the starting lineup. Through the first nine matches of the new league season, the 23-year-old Belgian attacking player has five goals and five assists to his name, an absolutely superb return.
This tactical analysis and scout report piece will highlight the strengths that Mike Trésor possesses, breaking them down and analysing them closely, which should give an idea as to why there may soon be big European clubs sniffing around for his services.
So far this season under new manager Wouter Vrancken, Trésor has excelled in the manager’s high-octane attacking style. Under Vrancken this season, Trésor has played as the left-sided attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the midfielder able to be highly involved in most of Genk’s attacking moves.
The data viz above shows Trésor’s heat map from this season so far, albeit only nine matches into the new season. As we can see, the highest intensity of Trésor’s involvement is on that left side, as it is rare for him to find himself on the opposite flank. However, the heatmap does show that there are a couple of areas of high intensity from Trésor on that side of the pitch, but most of those involvements can go down to set pieces, which is one of his strengths.
As this scout report continues, it will become more prevalent just what the U21 Belgian international is capable of when gathering possession in the areas where the heat map shows he is the most impactful.
Set piece specialist
Since we just discussed it, one of the first strengths that we will look at when it comes to Mike Trésor is his quality from set pieces. The attacking midfielder has been the main man when it comes to either taking corners or free kicks from dangerous attacking areas for Genk since his arrival in the summer of 2021. With set pieces being a key to success in football, having a dangerous set piece taker like Trésor is a luxury for Genk. In fact, in Genk’s 1-0 victory over KAA Gent last weekend, the winning goal was from a perfectly placed free kick in the 90th minute from the Belgian attacking midfielder. Following now are some examples of the quality that Mike Trésor possesses from set pieces.
The image above shows the set-piece goal created by Trésor that won the game late on for Genk last weekend against Gent. Trésor is a right-footed player that plays on the left side, allowing him to cut inside on his favoured foot. So, naturally, free kicks from the right side are perfect for the Belgian, allowing him to send in-swinging crosses into the danger area inside the box.
In the set piece situation above, this was put on full display. Trésor’s idea was to send the ball into the danger area near the penalty spot and hope that one of the runners could get in front of their defenders. The ball placement from Trésor was superb, and Genk captain Bryan Heynen was able to get in front of the defenders and head the ball into the back of the net for a late winner for Genk.
The image above shows another example of the quality that Mike Trésor possesses, as well as the chances that he is capable of creating, from set-piece situations. This free kick is actually similar to the one in the previous example that led to the goal, but this time Trésor attempts to pick out the back post instead of the penalty spot. The ensuing ball off the free kick from the Belgian is perfectly placed, with the Genk attacker able to get away from his markers and make an unmarked run towards the back post area.
Unfortunately, even though the initial ball in from Trésor was pinpointed, the chance was fluffed by the Genk attacker, with the ball being sent over the crossbar.
The image above shows yet another pinpoint accurate free kick from Mike Trésor, again from a relatively similar position to the other two shown above. Again, the U21 Belgium international looked to aim towards the back post area, hoping that one of his teammates would get free in this area and slip through unmarked.
As the ball is sent in, one of the Genk players does slip by unmarked, with the ball by Trésor being pinpointed accurately to the back post area for his teammate to send a bullet header past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Once again, another goal/goal-scoring chance comes from the quality the MIke Trésor possesses from free kicks in these attacking areas.
It is not just from free kicks where Mike Trésor is dangerous and able to create goal-scoring chances. It is any dead-ball situation, with corners being another example. The image above shows one of Trésor’s corners, which led to a goal-scoring opportunity. The ball is sent in perfectly into the box, with it coming down right on the penalty spot for a Genk teammate to head towards goal. Unfortunately, the goalkeeper is able to make a good save, preventing a goal.
As this section has illustrated, Mike Trésor excels when it comes to stepping over dead ball/set-piece situations. As mentioned earlier, having good set pieces is key for any side to have an edge over their opposition. This is exactly something that Wouter Vrancken and KRC Genk have with Mike Trésor.
Quality when dropping into deeper positions
Throughout last season and so far this season with Genk, Mike Trésor has tended to play as the left-sided attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation, or occasionally as a left winger in a 4-3-3. When further up the pitch, the attacking midfielder will look to utilize his 1v1 dribbling ability and progressive ball-carrying ability. However, Trésor also excels when he is able to drop deeper into midfield to receive possession, which allows him to find space to receive the ball and then look for forward options.
The pass map data viz above shows the successful passes from Mike Trésor so far in this new Belgian First Division A season. As is illustrated in the viz, a lot of these successful passes are concentrated on the left attacking side of the pitch. A lot of them, however, are from deeper positions, showing Trésor’s tendency to drop deep at times to get on the ball and create chances.
The image above shows an example of Trésor finding these pockets of space deeper in midfield to get on the ball and create chances. With Genk slowly progressing the ball forward, the Belgian attacking midfielder dropped into midfield, with one of the holding midfielders, Bryan Heynen, taking his place on the forward line. Trésor is allowed plenty of time on the ball, with no defenders within ten yards of the attacking midfielder, allowing him time to assess his options once in possession. He is able to notice the fullback slowly drifting inside and catches him off guard, playing a cross-field ball over the top and into the Genk player running in behind the defence.
Along with the range of passing and chance creation ability from deep that this example is able to demonstrate, it also shows the vision that he possesses as well. This vision will be more on display in the next example.
The image above shows a good example of the vision that Trésor possesses, along with his chance creation ability from a deeper position. The midfielder is once again positioned deeper in order to get on the ball and create something, and like the previous example, is able to find himself unpressured by the opposition. The Genk forward makes a good run between the Union Saint-Gilloise centre-backs, which Trésor is able to spot. He times his pass perfectly and sends it through on the ground in behind the defence.
It is a perfectly weighted pass, with the ball breaking both the midfield and defensive lines of USG. The forward is able to get onto the ball, but unfortunately, he is quickly closed down, forcing an errant shot. Though a good goal-scoring chance does not result, this example again demonstrates the chance creation capabilities that Mike Trésor has from deeper lying positions.
As these couple of examples were able to illustrate, Mike Trésor has the quality to be able to create chances from deeper positions if allowed the time and space to drop to get onto the ball. Though he is able to create chances from these deeper positions if allowed to drop to find pockets of space, he excels more when in the final third, where his dribbling, progressive runs, shots, and crossing are more on display.
Chance creation in the final third
Being an attacking midfielder, chance creation in the final third is a key quality that any should possess. With five goals and five assists already this season through nine matches, Trésor is currently having a career year in senior football in regards to goal contributions, but it doesn’t stop there with his final third quality.
The Belgian attacker also is a relatively decent dribbler, with him averaging 6.23 dribbles per 90 last season with a success rate of 54.8%. The numbers are slightly worse this season, albeit, with a much smaller sample size, so that will likely improve as the season progresses. So far this season, Trésor also has both 3.22 touches in the penalty area and progressive runs per 90, both improvements on last season. The following are a couple of data vizzes as well as examples to further highlight Mike Trésor’s final third chance creation.
The first data viz takes a look at Mike Trésor’s penetrating carries so far this season, demonstrating the danger he causes when driving forward into the penalty box with the ball at his feet. The attacking midfielder already has 32 penetrating carries so far this season, with the majority of them ending up on the edge of the six-yard box or near the penalty spot.
This next data viz highlights the Belgian’s ball progression so far this season, with his progressive runs as well as successful dribbles on display. Once again, these are concentrated on the left side of the field, with Trésor rarely finding himself on the opposite side. His ability to carry the ball forward and then proceed to beat the fullback 1v1 or even get through a 2v1 situation to get into the box illustrates the magical ability that he has possessed at times this season. Following are some examples of these final third qualities on display.
The image above shows an example of the dribbling ability that Mike Trésor possesses and the end product at the end of the move. As the attacking midfielder gained possession near the edge of the 18-yard box, he took on the first defender, getting past him and putting him on the ground. He then faked to the inside to root the centre-back to his position, allowing Trésor to cut inside past the fullback who did not attempt a tackle for risk of giving away a penalty.
This dribbling ability allowed Trésor to get behind the opposition defence and attempt a shot on goal, which brought a very good save out of the goalkeeper. This example shows that it is not 1v1 dribbling, but even 3v1 dribbling, where he is able to create chances by himself in the final third.
The image above is able to illustrate a good example of Trésor’s anticipation and vision when it comes to chance creation in the final third. Interestingly, the attacking midfielder finds himself on his least favoured side, but he still is able to use his vision and anticipation to find a teammate free in the box. As he is driving closer to the end line and faced up against the fullback in a 1v1 take-on situation, Trésor decides to slow down, noticing his teammate making an unmarked run towards the edge of the penalty box.
He is able to anticipate the movement of the Genk player and plays a perfect cutback ball into the space for his teammate to run onto. Unfortunately, the shot is hit weakly and sent wide, but the chance would not have come if not for the quick read of the situation by Mike Trésor.
The above image shows an example of Trésor’s final third chance creation that results in a goal for Genk. After receiving the ball near midfield in a central position, Trésor drove forward and slightly arched his run towards a more outside left position. As he got close to the penalty box, the one opposition centre-back decides to make a step toward him, which opens up the passing lane to the forward running in behind the defence. The attacking midfielder was able to play a perfectly weighted ball into the path of the forward, who was able to convert the chance and score.
The final example for this section shows an example of the finishing quality that Mike Trésor possesses, which is now starting to come to the forefront this season. Before analyzing the goal, what is not shown is the lung-busting run and movement that Trésor did to find himself unmarked near the penalty spot. After gaining possession near midfield, the Belgian was able to drive forward before playing the ball out to the winger on the near side. He then continues his run into the box, stopping near the penalty spot and calling for the ball. He receives it and is able to fire a first-time finish into the far corner past former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. These are movements that Trésor looks to make often, setting him up for chances to score himself.
As this section has been able to illustrate, in the final third, Mike Trésor can be a pain for opposing defences to handle. While last season he did contribute seven assists through the season, he did not score a goal. Now, with five goals already to his name this season, adding a goal-scoring capability as well has made Trésor the complete package in the final third.
As this tactical analysis and scout report piece has shown, Mike Trésor is becoming one of the next players that people should start to keep a close eye on in the Belgian Pro League. One of those people should be former Everton manager and current Belgian national team boss Roberto Martinez. With Trésor eligible to play for Burundi as well, Martinez may need to take a closer look at him soon to try and secure his international future with Belgium. It will be tough however to break into the Belgian squad, with the likes of Real Madrid star Eden Hazard and others playing in Trésor’s preferred position.
Trésor has been a perfect fit however in Wouter Vrancken’s tactics, with the attacking midfielder proving that so far this season. It will be interesting to see how Trésor develops this season, and whether big clubs come knocking on Genk’s door next summer.