Andrei Ivan is a 22-year-old winger from Romania who played this season for Rapid Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga. He’s got a contract with Krasnodar but was on loan this season at the club that is based in the capital of Austria. With just 22 years Ivan already played 157 senior games for club and country. This tactical analysis will show you what makes the young winger such an interesting player and what his strengths and weaknesses are.
His career so far
He played for his boyhood club Moreni until he was 15 years old. In 2012 he joined Sporting Pitesti and stayed there two years before he moved to Craiova who are in Romania’s first division. There, he became part of the senior team at the age of 16 in 2014.
In his final season at Craiova, he scored nine goals and assisted four times in 33 league appearances. In addition, he debuted for Romania’s senior team in 2015 and since then registered seven caps for the senior team of his country. Due to these stats and appearances in the national team, Krasnodar took notice of him and signed the young winger in the summer of 2017.
However, in the 2017/18 campaign, he played in seven out of 30 games in the Russian Premier League. In addition, he started in none of them so he only totalled 28 minutes on the pitch. It was clear that the Romanian needed either a transfer or a loan to gain experience at another club. Considering this, he joined Rapid Vienna on loan last summer. He scored three goals and assisted once in 40 appearances for the Hütteldorfer in the Austrian Bundesliga. They rejected the option to buy him after this loan and so he will return to Krasnodar this summer.
You often hear that young players have the talent to become a great player, but they often choose the wrong option. Should they pass back to save possession, should they dribble, or should they try to go for goal instead of assisting one of their teammates? Youngsters often need to gain experience to improve their decision-making.
However, Ivan seems to already have this experience due to his 157 games in senior football. Even though he’s an offensive-orientated winger, he knows when to calm down the game and just lay off the ball for one of his deeper positioned teammates. In the image below, his team is able to regain possession and he receives the ball. Since Demarai Gray tries immediately to put pressure on him, he decides to lay the ball off to one of his teammates.
In another situation, his team is once more able to win back the ball due to an interception. The ball comes to Ivan, who has got a lot of space in front of him. In light of this, he uses his speed to dribble into the respective zone. He saw the opportunity to get into a dangerous area and so he decided to not lay the ball off, but to get forward.
Seconds later he has to make yet another decision. Should he keep the ball and try to create something on his own, or should he pass the ball? Since he would be alone against four English U21 players, he decides to pass the ball to George Puscas who has a lot of space.
Positioning and typical movements
On paper, Ivan mostly appears on the left wing and sometimes on the opposing side. However, he and his teammate on the other side often switch positions so he usually plays on both wings as you can see in his heatmap of this season.
And another aspect becomes clear when you look at Ivan’s heatmap: he does almost everything with his right foot. So, he usually positions very wide to be a passing option for his teammates. In addition, he lures the opposing full-back out of his position to reduce their compactness. As soon as he’s on the ball, his further movements depend on which side he is on.
On the left wing, he often cuts in to either shoot or find someone in the centre with a cross or a pass. Arjen Robben made this movement famous and Ivan often uses this cut-ins just from the opposite side to the Dutch legend.
When he receives the ball in the right wide area, he mostly tries to go vertical past the defender and once more either shoot or cross. Due to his good acceleration, these situations are really hard to defend for the opposing players.
These two typical movements become clear from his heatmap. On the left wing, he drifts more inside and in the right wide area, he likes to go more vertical up the pitch.
Dribbling and passing
As already explained, Ivan likes to go past one or two opposing players and then find one of his teammates with a pass. Beside his dribbling abilities, his acceleration and strength are the main factors why he is able to overcome the defenders. On average, he dribbles 5.53 times per game with a success rate of 66.3%. In the image below, he receives the ball on the wing in a hopeless situation, since the defender is in front of him before he even receives the ball. However, Ivan somehow gets past the defender due to his pace and then additionally shields the ball.
The young Romanian can really create dangerous situations for the opposition when they allow him to dribble with speed into the centre. Since he has the ability to keep his head up even in this situation, he can easily find spaces in which he can either go by himself or pass the ball.
The winger plays 24.79 passes on average per game and just 1.35 of them are long. Considering this, he is always looking for a short passing option. In the shot below, he cuts inside with the ball at his feet. Since all the defenders focus on him, his teammate can make a run into the free space behind the last line of the opposing defence and Ivan can find him with a great pass.
Aggression and defensive abilities
Nowadays offensive players are also important for the defensive shape of the team. Even though Ivan’s positioning is not always the best, he makes that up with his aggression and will to win back the ball for his team. In some situations, he looks a bit over-motivated. However, exactly this aggression makes him strong in defensive duels.
Furthermore, he uses his great acceleration when he recognises a bad touch by an opponent. He immediately starts a sprint to beat the opposing player to the ball. In addition, he often tries to put pressure on the opposing full-back or goalkeeper. He once more uses the factors of speed and aggression to press them.
Even though the Romanian is an interesting winger with a lot more to come, one aspect is really remarkable when you watch him: he just uses his right foot. To be fair, he uses his left one too when he dribbles. However, as soon as it comes to passing, crossing or shooting, he just uses his strong foot. In some situations, this can look unusual.
In light of this, Ivan should work on his left foot to be more variable and have more options in certain situations.
This tactical analysis showed that the young Romanian winger has the potential to play in a higher division than in the Austrian Bundesliga. Since Rapid Vienna won’t buy Ivan after his loan, he’ll return to Krasnodar this summer. If he doesn’t get enough appearances at the Russian club, he’ll need to leave.
However, due to his good performances during the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, it is possible that some clubs took notice of him. It will be interesting to see what happens in the summer transfer window and how Ivan will perform next season.
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