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Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

Tyrell Malacia: What to expect from Manchester United’s new blistering left-back? – scout report

Manchester United have signed Dutch left-back Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord for a reported fee of £15.7m.  Malacia becomes United’s first signing of the summer transfer window under new manager Erik ten Hag. Malacia had appeared to be on his way to Olympique Lyonnais, but United pounced to hijack the deal in the nick of time.
Malacia joined Feyenoord’s youth academy aged nine and rose through the ranks; eventually cementing his place in the first team during 2018. He developed into a fan favorite at the De Kuip, being nicknamed “the pitbull” due to his tenacious displays.
It was rumored that ten Hag already wanted to sign Malacia for Ajax last campaign, but the rivalry between the two Eredivisie giants made any such move difficult.
The Dutch international has made five caps for the national team and will likely be part of the Netherlands squad for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
This tactical analysis and scout report will look at Malacia’s key attributes and what to expect from him at Manchester United.  The analysis highlights what role he will play for his new club and how he can adapt to Erik ten Hag’s tactics and to the Premier League.

Style of play

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

The highly-rated young fullback took a giant step in his development with Feyenoord last campaign, making 50 appearances in all competitions for the Dutch side, helping them reach the UEFA Europa Conference League final, where he was named in the competition’s team of the tournament.

Malacia had 1 goal and 5 assists in all competitions for Feyenoord, and he played a key role as the 15-time Dutch champions reached the final of the Europa Conference League, only to lose to Roma.

Tyrell Malacia compared to defenders during the 2021/22 Eredivisie season:

◉ Shots: 1st

◉ Take-ons completed: 1st

◉ Successful through balls: 1st

◎ Final third passes: 2nd

◎ Tackles made: 3rd

◎ Touches in the opp. box: 3rd

Malacia is among the highest ranked fullbacks in the Eredivisie in terms of successful dribbles (90th percentile), offensive duels (96th percentile) and progressive runs (86th percentile) and passes (98th percentile).

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis
Tyrell Malacia heatmap – 2021/22

The 22-year-old is an adventurous, energetic fullback who’s renown for his contributions to his team during the attacking phase. He is great at progressing the ball up the pitch either by making darting runs into the opposition half or by playing long passes from deep.

Defensively, Malacia does not engage in many aerial duels. He also does not make a significant number of interceptions per game. The Dutch fullback, however, has blistering pace that enables him to rapidly react to dangerous situations and make the necessary challenges.

The former Feyenoord man was the only player in a top European league to average more than 1.5 shots and dribbles per game and more than 2.5 tackles in every fixture last season.

While still raw in his style of play, this is typical for a player of his age and a move to one of the best leagues in the world will most definitely aid his development and progress.

Tyrell Malacia: “I want to do even better than Patrice Evra did at Man. United. I know it’s going to be difficult, but I set the bar high for myself. It’s what I want.

Attacking contributions

Malacia is strong, powerful and extremely physical. These blend perfectly for a player looking to thrive both in the Premier League and in an Erik ten Hag system.

Malacia excels at overlapping, a quality that allows him to be deployed as an attacking machine.

However, Malacia is not just an explosive fullback who can overlap, he also has a decent passing range and can break opposition lines from deeper areas.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

Something that ten Hag requires is that his fullbacks are technical players, comfortable in both inverted and wider areas. Malacia has the attributes necessary to perform this “inverted fullback” role, both on the ball through his technical ability and output.

He possesses the ability to make extremely intelligent runs which the new United boss demands of his fullbacks.

At Feyenoord, Malacia is used to operate in the inverted fullback role under Arne Slot.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

He is very comfortable in possession in more central areas as well as wide areas. This is perfect for ten Hag’s system when in the opposition half, when the shape can often transform into a 2-3-5.

While he tends to keep the play short or medium length, United’s new no. 12 can switch the play with long accurate diagonal balls to the opposite flank.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

Malacia is a very difficult player to knock off the ball. When put under pressure, he uses his footwork and body feints to manipulate and shake off defenders. His progressive runs forward add tempo to his side’s attack.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

However, crossing isn’t the fullback’s strong suit. His central positioning also means he’s not always in a suitable position to cross.

In addition, Malacia scored only one goal last season despite being directly involved in 50 appearances in all competitions. He needs to develop into becoming a bigger goal threat.

Below is an attacking comparison for the 2021/22 league campaign between Tyrell Malacia and his two competitors for the left-back position at Manchester United; Luke Shaw and Alex Telles.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

During 2021/22, Malacia played 32 league games, while Shaw and Telles featured in 20 and 21 games respectively. Malacia lead the way in attempted passes with 57.1, perhaps due to United’s low possession percentage in the Premier League last season (52%).

Shaw is first in crosses attempted, as he mostly stays wide along the touchline; driving forward to provide crosses towards the strikers. As for assists, Malacia and Telles provided 4 each, while Shaw had 3.

Malacia performs more underlapping runs to the byline often followed by a low cross into the box. The Dutchman is also ahead for take-ons completed at 1.6.

Defensive contributions

Last season, United conceded four more goals than relegated Burnley in the 2021/22 Premier League, so it is no surprise ten Hag has begun revamping his defensive options.

Malacia’s athleticism is central to all his defensive strengths and areas he excels at in the back. He is a very strong one-on-one defender who is extremely hard to beat because of his acceleration and recovery pace. He is also a tight marker and capable of defending well zonally.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

His pace also comes in handy during transitions as he possesses the lightening speed required to get back into position and execute defensive actions. He is a stout and dedicated defender, very good at winning the ball back through tackles and interceptions, around 3.7 times per 90.

The 22-year-old has good defensive technique, he tends to control the situation by orienting his opponent away from goal.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

In the Europa Conference League game vs Marseille, Matteo Guendouzi plays a ball in behind Malacia.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

The attacker is through on goal, and the Dutch defender is in trouble.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

Malacia sprints back to make an inch-perfect goal saving tackle to deny his opponent. He is a very astute tackler with exceptional timing.

This is hugely important for Erik ten Hag’s system, due to the expansive nature of the Dutchman’s philosophy, counter-attacks are a potential weakness. Therefore, having speedy players with a good knack of stopping transitions is paramount.

While Malacia is still generally good in terms of his defensive positioning, this is an area of weakness of his. He is sometimes caught out of position, especially during defensive transitions. The newest Red Devil heavily relies on his explosive speed and last-ditch actions to make up for his occasional poor defensive positioning.

Malacia also sometimes loses concentration when the ball is on the other flank around his box, an issue all young fullbacks struggle with.

Below is the defensive comparison for the 2021/22 league campaign between Malacia, Shaw and Telles.

Tyrell Malacia at Manchester United 2022/23 - scout report tactics analysis

Telles is the biggest aerial threat and leads the way in interceptions per 90. For ball recoveries, Malacia’s stats are similar to Shaw’s, but the Dutchman is ahead in tackles and ground duels contested.

Conclusion

So what can we expect from Old Trafford’s new no.12 next season? For starters, we believe that Alex Telles will be deemed surplus to requirements and seek a move away, leaving Shaw and Malacia to compete for a starting birth. A major problem United faced last season was that their starters and substitutes were a different profile of player. Ten Hag has previously stated that he would prefer some players in key positions to have similar styles of play, causing less disruptions from rotation.

Shaw and Malacia are both excellent progressors of the ball, while Telles is the opposite; always aiming for the early cross. We expect Shaw to still be the starting left-back for United at the start of the season, but Malacia will definitely be breathing down his neck – providing stern competition for the Englishman.

When Malacia is on the pitch, ten Hag might use him as a third central defender or an extra midfielder during the build-up phase; a similar structure to his last Ajax side.

The young Dutchman needs to be given time to find his feet and climatise to a new country and league. The Old Trafford faithful will undoubtedly be behind him.

Former striker Robin van Persie had some words for the United fans on what to expect from the 22-year-old.

To all Red Devils fans, you’re not only getting a talented full-back, but, as well, a fantastic person, so be nice to him, support him in good times and bad times, he will give absolutely everything for you guys.