Why Juventus should consider re-signing Orsolini? – scout report
The number of young talented players in Serie A is constantly increasing. Many of them had the chance to shine for their mid-table teams and prove they are ready to help some of the top teams in their future title ventures.
Juventus already had the chance to have one of the fast-growing talents Riccardo Orsolini in their squad, but just recently (last summer) waved him goodbye towards Bologna. During his loan spell, the winger settled well which secured his place and made them make a move and sign him permanently.
With 26 games in now, the Italian has proved that Bologna took the right decision for keeping him. Shining brightly in their frontline and being their top goal scorer might make Juventus quite envious of letting him go.
The 22-year-old winger impressed with his performance at Bologna, which was the reason for them to reach a deal with Juventus and permanently sign him. Orsolini met the expectations being the joint top scorer for the team and one of their most consistent performers this season. His impressive confidence on the ball and cold hard finish resulted in seven goals and four assists in 26 games this term, which only shows how much more he could grow.
What is even more impressive is his ability to cover space. He doesn’t limit his movement only on the flank but often cuts inside threatening the opposition’s defences by occupying the half-spaces. He uses his pace wisely during turnovers but also attempts to win the ball back on his own and attack immediately.
His efficiency on the flank is supported by his dribbling abilities since he can easily take on his opponents and cross the ball or drag them out wide helping with his teammates’ movement and exploiting spaces. His confidence on the ball adds to his performance. He can cut inside with the ball in his feet and be a direct threat.
Although holding on to the ball and keeping the possession with short pass combinations isn’t his best ability (which might not be the best thing if the joins Juventus), his flair for a good through ball is often crucial for creating chances for his teammates. Orsolini turns to be a solid set-piece taker too, which is a great addition to his already impressive set of skills.
Juventus’ attacking ventures
At first sight, Juventus don’t have many problems upfront. They are winning their games and the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuaín and Paulo Dybala is respecting itself. Looking closely though, the team have been struggling to convert their chances into goals, often throwing them to waste and winning games with one goal difference.
Part of it is a result of the team’s midfield problems. Due to the underperforming midfielders and the lack of good connection and smooth build-up, the front players are often forced to drop back deeper in order to pick up the ball. This expectedly affects their attacking performance and their shot accuracy in particular.
They also often get stuck in midfield in their efforts to control the tempo and retain possession, making it harder for the attackers to come up with a solution to penetrate to the final third. The team creates a high amount of positional attacks per game (33,39) but only 22% of them end with shots.
The Bianconerri create 16,03 shots per 90 minutes but only five of them end up on target. It turns out that Sarri doesn’t have the needed players to employ his favoured 4-3-3 (and sometimes 4-4-2) in the best possible way. That’s partly due to the lack of options on the flanks. The full-backs are the main responsible for attacking through the flanks and it turns out that the final touch in the final third is often missing. The strategy of the midfielders occupying the half-spaces is good on paper, but the lack of an additional passing option on the flank makes it harder for them to use their off the ball movement as planned.
The Bianconerri’s options upfront
Juventus have outstanding players to occupy the central areas, but when it comes to covering the wings, things look differently. Sarri is still not convinced by any of the right-backs he has in the squad and is constantly looking for different options. That took off of their attacking force due to the right-winger Juan Cuadrado being dropped back as a full-back quite frequently. Not that his role has changed a whole lot but having the defensive responsibility and lacking an additional attacking player on the flank turned out to be problematic.
Of course, the manager can rely on Douglas Costa, but to speak the truth, he needs to have additional options that could increase their explosiveness when needed. What Orsolini could offer better is that direct threat to the goal as well as more crossing options. Costa is performing solidly but mostly in supporting his teammates. His contribution is extremely important, but bringing in the Italian could give them more versatility in attack due to his movement on and off the ball.
Another player that often occupies the right-hand side is Paulo Dybala. This though decreases his efficiency and explosiveness in and around the box, since he is constantly focused on covering wider areas and helping by crossing the ball.
Federico Bernardeschi is always an option too but he is underperforming and could not win Sarri’s sympathy, often being left on the bench. Even when he plays, he is rarely given a winger role.
Orsolini’s strengths and how he could fit
First and foremost Orsolini could help the team keep or even increase the dynamic and improve the transition to the final third. His presence on the flank and in the half-spaces could bring explosiveness to their attacking actions. An additional body in and around the box could never be a bad idea.
Being able to help on the flank though would be the best-case scenario for Juventus. His tendency to cut inside could really match Cuadrado’s movement and create a great partnership based on overlapping runs.
While his movement on the flank would be perfect for stretching out defences and giving the other players more space for movement. Thanks to his dribbling skills he could help for advancing the ball pretty quickly. Juventus’ successful dribbles in the right area are less frequent than in the middle and on the left as seen on the image below.
As already mentioned the front players drop too deep which sometimes takes off of their precision further. Having Orsolini in the final third would immediately give the other attackers more freedom for using their off the ball movement and focus on their actions in the box.
He could also improve their crossing performance. So far, Alex Sandro is the top player when it comes to crossing, followed by Cuadrado and Dybala. Freeing Dybala of that responsibility and relying on Cuadrado and Orsolini for crossing could immediately increase the team’s shot success rate.
He can help with assists too. As seen on the map below, Juve’s key pass frequency on the right is less prominent. Having Orsolini on his natural position as a right-winger could change that in the blink of an eye.
The team tends to counter-attack 3,24 times on average. That’s where they benefit from the front players’ positioning closer to the midline, with Ronaldo being one of the main responsible to pick and advance the ball. Having a player with high pace and strong dribbling skills like Orsolini would add to their efficiency during turnovers. Not only for delivering the ball further but giving his teammates space and time to move to a goal-scoring position.
Adding in that he is a solid set-piece taker, it seems like he might be good enough to resolve Juventus’ problems upfront.
The different options Orsolini can offer. Option one: Cuadrado covers the flank, whilst Orsolini cuts inside and helps in overloading the box. Option two: Dybala covers the wing and helps with crossing, whilst Orsolini exploits the half-spaces, drags players and opens spaces for Ronaldo to exploit. Option three: Orsolini covers the wing and crosses, whilst Dybala has the freedom to position in the box. Meanwhile, Cuadrado provides additional body around the box.
Although they are leaders in Serie A at the moment, Juventus are on the edge of letting the crown go. Having opponents like Lazio and Inter, whose attacking actions are impressive is making the situation very delicate. Juve need to do their analysis, re-gain their confidence and start converting their chances into goals, otherwise, the thought of signing a new player could come earlier than expected. Whatever this season’s outcome is, the truth is that Sarri needs to look for options on the wings, and for now one of the best ones is Riccardo Orsolini.