Rafa Mir scout report: Can powerful target man push Lopetegui’s Sevilla closer to LaLiga crown?
Sevilla have officially announced the signing of Rafa Mir, a player with both LaLiga and Premier League experience who will be joining Julen Lopetegui’s talented squad. In a season where the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid may struggle, quality depth is essential.
This tactical analysis will provide you with Mir’s scout report, analysing his main traits and how they might fit Sevilla and their tactics. The analysis will touch upon his stint at Huesca and look at the data to make a complete evaluation.
Standing at 6ft 2in, Mir is a decently built striker with imposing strength, pace and a physical presence. The 24-year-old is also a right-footer, albeit one capable of scoring both with his left foot and with the head. Usually, we see him deployed as a traditional target-man, sitting on the shoulder of the defender and providing both an outlet from the deep and an outlet who attacks space relentlessly.
Below, we have his tactical profile, as seen through data recorded for his Huesca stint, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Mir is a very traditional no.9, as we’ve already alluded to in this tactical analysis. This means he’s good at what he does but his profile can be a bit narrow. By narrow, I mean he’s a far cry from a modern striker who’s tasked to contribute at both ends of the pitch while also being the team’s goal-scorer and playmaker.
The 24-year-old is also a volume shooter but seems to be a decent finisher too, which we’ll explore a bit more further down the line of this scout report. Mir is especially effective in aerial battles, showcasing power and technique to beat his marker.
Defensively, he seems decent but with limited output and work rate, which could be improved over time.
Traditional target man
With Mir, we could be talking about tunnel vision. His profile screams target man and for a very good reason too. He’s not the player to join in intricate passing or playmaking for his team but he’ll gladly be the direct benefactor of creative play. With his frame and power, the 24-year-old can easily be used to hold-up play, outmuscle the opposition while runners arrive or be the one attacking space from deep.
Below, we can see both his heatmap and action map, which will tell us more about his tendencies. Unsurprisingly, his main area of activity is inside the opposition’s penalty area where Mir will usually meet crosses or find spots for a good finish.
What’s also clear is that he often drops to either of his half-spaces to receive passes but that’s usually either to deploy a lay-off ball or for a short combination play. Generally speaking, Mir’s passing abilities are lacking and don’t really fit a heavy possession side. Sevilla are by all means a positional team but they also tend to utilise long balls to bypass the opposition press.
In that regard, Mir is a perfect profile for such tactics. The 24-year-old can and has been used as a target man for long passes from the deep. Not only that but his aerial ability means he can direct play and assist his teammates through those actions.
Below is a great example of this as Huesca use Mir in such a role and the young striker lays the ball off to his teammate higher up the pitch.
But while engaging in an aerial battle is surely a good way to use his physical presence, he can also be a good hold-up player. Our next example shows us Mir dropping deeper to receive the ball and then waiting for his teammates to make a run into the final third. But this is also where we often see his limitations as a player.
Dropping deep and holding up play is a strength of his but often, he won’t have the passing range to pick out the runs of other players. That’s exactly why using him for short combinations only and as a lay-off option could be more beneficial.
Inside the box is where he truly shines, both in the air and on the ground. But after scoring five headed goals for Huesca last season, it’s only fair to give his aerial ability a more in-depth look. Mir seems to be very powerful in direct duels but also moves well to beat the marker.
In the first example, we can see him just outmuscle the defender, pushing him aside while he leaps into the air to strike the ball well. Note, however, that we’re not analysing just goals but overall technique. This strike, for example, didn’t end in a goal but is a good indicator of what Mir can do in the air.
It’s also important to note his movement prior to the aerial battle. He positions himself well and then times the jump to easily beat the marker but also leaving him wrong-footed and unable to compete. Our next example shows pure neck power and reach in the air.
Mir jumps over his markers and strikes the ball with such force that the goalkeeper cannot react in time. This one result in a goal, which is something Sevilla will surely be looking to utilise. With 3.18 completed crosses into the six-yard box (1st in LaLiga) in 2020/21 and 14.6 crosses per 90 in general (3rd in LaLiga), there’s a clear approach present in their tactics.
With Mir, there’s that athleticism present that he can make almost any cross into the box effective. By combining power, technique and good movement, the young striker can be extremely deadly in that trademark target man role.
Above, we can see him leap towards the ball and finish with power, leaving the goalkeeper completely empty-handed yet again.
Pace, power & volume shooting
Another great trait Mir has in his arsenal is pace and attacking depth. While he tends to drop deeper when needed, that movement is usually followed up by a darting run back into the final third. A fairly standard sequence would then include him dropping slightly deeper to lay the ball off, either by winning an aerial duel or through a short combination, and then sprinting back to get at the end of a piercing through ball.
We’ve actually seen snippets of what he might offer to Sevilla in his first official match for the Andalusians against Getafe. Mir drops deeper to combine with Youssef En-Nesyri but then quickly starts the run from the deep which ultimately leads to the winning goal.
Mir will regularly position himself on the shoulder of the defender and always threaten a run beyond the defensive line. This can also lead to offsides but generally it’s effective for pinning the opposition down.
The 24-year-old forward is also extremely quick on his feet and can win a straight-up foot race with most defenders. Provided he gets good service, which shouldn’t be a problem at Sevilla, Mir will run riot against LaLiga defenders.
We can often see him start between the lines and then progress higher, finding pockets between the centre-backs to exploit. This is exactly what our next image shows.
After identifying where the pass can be made and where is the space to exploit, Mir explodes forward with pace, beating the defenders and getting at the end of the through ball. This particular example doesn’t end in a goal but is a good showcase of what we can expect from him.
Generally, his finishing is decent but Mir is a volume shooter above all. This means he’ll often need a bigger number of shots to rattle the inside of the net but this can be rectified with better service.
Last season, he recorded 114 shots, 44 of which hit the target. Below, you can see his whole shot map.
What we can depict from this graphic is that Mir indeed likes to test the goalkeeper often and will do so both from inside and outside the box. Generally, however, we’ll see him shoot from good positions close to the opposition’s net. It’s also worth noting that he scored six goals from an xG value lower than 0.1, indicating he has a knack for bagging an odd wonder goal.
Similarly, while he is mostly right-footed, having scored 13 goals with his dominant foot (three penalties), he’s also scored two goals with his left and five with his head. When it comes to his finishing, we’ve seen him score a wide range of different goals, from tap-ins to power finishes.
Below we can see him finish with a flick over the goalkeeper, which, aptly, comes after a lay-off and a run from the deep, just as we’ve alluded to earlier in this tactical analysis.
But mostly, he’ll try to finish with power, sometimes even sacrificing accuracy for it. In those scenarios, he tends to use his right foot instead of the left. The example below demonstrates this perfectly.
And again, it comes after a piercing run from the deep, using his pace to beat the defenders and then, after creating the separation, finishing with both power and precision.
Mir is an excellent addition to an already stacked Sevilla squad which shouldn’t lack depth throughout the season. He’s entering his peak years and should only improve under Lopetegui’s guidance.
So far, the Andalusian team looks like a title contender on paper but it remains to be seen whether they can topple the competition and usurp the crown. With Mir’s help, however, they just might be a step closer to that goal.