Lorient aren’t always known for producing such incredible youngsters. But they do pick up youth players on the cheap and then develop them before selling them for such an inflated fee. Raphael Guerreiro, Matteo Guendouzi, and Laurent Koscielny are just some examples of how they develop players and do business.

Lately, some fresh names have arisen and impressed many scouts around Europe. Names like Julien Ponce, Ilan Meslier, and Alexis Claude-Maurice are not really that unfamiliar anymore now. All three impressed heavily last season and are already linked with big moves this summer.

However, one player, who is probably just as equally talented – albeit slightly older – is strangely rarely mentioned in the news lately. Not even mentioned that much anywhere throughout their last Ligue 2 campaign. Now with Ligue 2 already rolling, it looks likely that he’ll be staying with the club. It is Yoane Wissa, a 1996-born versatile forward and this scout report will show you why he deserves some recognition as well.

Wissa contributed heavily for his team last season. He scored six goals and created six as well across all competitions in 39 games for Lorient. However, his impressive performances were not mentioned much and Wissa still hasn’t gained a lot of attention this summer. Instead, many are focusing their sight on Claude-Maurice who is heavily-touted as one of the brightest youngsters in Ligue 2 last season.

However, with Claude-Maurice setting his sight elsewhere in Europe with numerous European giants linked already, will Wissa be able to step up and prove to the world how talented he actually is? Will he finally start getting the recognition he deserves this season?

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the 22-year-old forward in this tactical analysis.

Physical

Strong and balanced

The most impressive attribute of Wissa is his physicality. He’s all-around balanced. He’s very quick, quite strong, energetic, and tireless. Those are vital attributes for a forward and they do provide him with certain advantages against different opponents. His impressive physicality is perhaps also the reason why he’s such a versatile player who’s able to play in many positions across the pitch. That is of course, along with his tactical flexibility and intelligence.

Wissa is 1.80m (5’11) in height and has a lean body build. However, he seems to be naturally strong despite not really being very muscular. He seems to have quite a good upper-body and core strength. Due to his strength, Wissa is able to hold off defenders quite comfortably and has a bigger chance of winning a challenge when engaging. He’s a hard man to muscle off the ball.

What helps him, even more, to protect the ball when controlling/dribbling it is his agility and body balance.

Wissa is fairly agile. He can stop and start moving as well as change directions with or without the ball quite quickly and he rarely goes down easily when getting body charged. This does help him a lot, especially when playing in tight spaces and playing with the ball under pressure.

Yoane Wissa 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Wissa challenging for the ball against Metz’s Thomas Delaine

Aside from his strength and agility, Wissa has quite a powerful pair of legs that could spring quite high. In combination with his upper-body/core strength, Wissa can actually be quite a problem in the air. Wissa averaged around two aerial challenges per game last season, completing a rather impressive 40% of them. That might not seem much due to the fact that his team mostly exchanges short-medium passes on the ground instead of lofting it. Also, let’s keep in mind that Wissa is playing mostly on the wing so these aerial duels are mostly attacking challenges that he made inside and around the box. His strength in the air is quite troublesome as he adds some threat to the opposing team’s defence when he’s inside the box while he could also win possession when duelling around the box.

Pacey and untiring

Normally, wide players possess blazing pace in them. This is no different from Wissa as the 1996-born player is incredibly quick. He possesses a very impressive amount of pace in short, medium, or even long-range. He’s capable of beating opposing players with a simple touch and dash in short-range, as well as outrunning every other player on the field when playing on the counter.

Wissa could reach quite a high top speed when he’s already into his stride. However, what makes him look even more impressive is how he could so quickly and effortlessly reach his top speed. Wissa’s strong legs provide him with the explosiveness that heavily helps him both vertically (leap) and horizontally (acceleration).

To be able to maintain the same amount of speed and intensity in prolonged time or rather lengthy distance, a player needs to have good stamina. This is undoubtedly something that Wissa has and again, this massively helps him in a match. He can be seen dribbling the ball from the back, progressing the ball from deep and into the box (or the byline), all alone numerous times. He’s able to sprint and maintain his speed for long-distances which is why he’s quite a dangerous weapon to use when playing on the counter.

Wissa’s high work rate is also more proof of the player’s excellent endurance. He is highly active both defensively, but of course, even more active offensively. Wissa covered a pretty good amount of ground in every game. He also made on average around 14.84 challenges per game with just over 50% success rate last season. 

Technical

Control of the ball

A simple way to describe Wissa’s style of play is smart and sometimes physical but often lacks execution.

Wissa’s ball control is fairly good but often flawed. There are always numerous times in a game where he would lose the ball or cause himself (and his team) some trouble due to his heavy touch.

However, not just his first touch, but his so-so ball control is also apparent in the way he dribbles the ball. Wissa is not a very skilful dribbler. Statistically, Wissa only made around three dribbles per game last season, only completing around 60% of them.

As mentioned before, Wissa has the agility and balance as well as strength to hold off defenders and even play in tight spaces and escape pressure. However, he doesn’t really have the technique to be able to consistently execute those actions successfully.

Yoane Wissa 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Wissa beating several defenders with a simple touch and dash, taking proper advantage of his excellent agility as well as speed and acceleration to compensate for his lack of dribbling skills.

Wissa’s most powerful and effective weapon to beat defenders is perhaps to knock the ball past them and dash. It’s simple yet effective. And he does have the perfect tools to do it.

Distribution and delivery

Wissa is actually a pretty good passer of the ball, especially when it comes to short or medium-range passing. He seems to be able to direct the ball with just the right accuracy and he’s always able to generate enough power and drive with his passes. However, when it comes to hitting long passes, he seems to lack accuracy. Most of the time it’s strong enough to reach the intended distance and target. However it often just lacks weight and in the end, would not find his teammate.

Yoane Wissa 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Wissa dropping deep and receiving the ball. He already saw his teammate’s runs, however, he was too late to release the ball, resulting in the passing option being cut or his teammate standing in an offside position.

But when it comes to short-medium passing, he’s pretty decent. He’s got fairly good vision and he’s often able to find teammates in open spaces with his pass. Coupled with his ability to hold off a defender and act as a wall to bounce passes, he’s a pretty good link-up player.

Wissa made around 14 passes per game on average with a success rate of 72% last season. Most of his passes are short/medium passes.

However, his only problem when linking up seems to be his decision making and timing when releasing the pass. He does show the desire to drop deep and receive the ball at his feet. He already saw his teammate’s run as well, but took too long to release the ball in the example above. As a result, the passing option was blocked and cut and he found himself isolated and under pressure in the middle of the field. On other occasions, the late timing could also mean that his teammate would strand into an offside position when receiving the ball. And on some other occasions, Wissa seems to release the ball too early which in the end, doesn’t find his teammate due to the pass being intercepted by the defender.

Aside from his short/long passing, Wissa is actually a rather poor crosser of the ball. Statistically, Wissa has only completed one cross out of total 12 attempts last season, taking his completion rate to only 8%. Wissa’s cross is often overpowered. He seems to know who to pick out as he often looks up before delivering the ball into the box. But perhaps were it not for him hitting it too forcefully, maybe he’d be able to successfully deliver some more crosses rather than not.

Wissa’s ability to deliver accurate passes as well as create chances and progress the ball via dribbling makes him quite a good advanced playmaker. This is why he’s also often played in central areas, either as a central midfielder or an attacking midfielder.

Shooting and use of weak foot

Wissa is a pretty good striker of the ball. His strikes are accurate and powerful. He averaged around 1.3 shots per game last season with 38% of them being on target. A lot of his shots were produced inside the box last season. However, most of them still generated low xG value mostly due to the tightness of the angle that he took his shots from. In total, Wissa collected at least 7.9 xG from all his attempts at goal last season, scoring six goals in the process. All of his goals were from inside the box and five of them were straight in front of goal.

Wissa is a pretty good shooter and a fairly effective finisher. He can use his head and either foot to convert a chance. His positioning and off the ball movements (which we’ll talk about later in this tactical analysis) are what makes him a really dangerous forward and his effectiveness in front of goal further strengthened his attacking attributes.

Despite being mostly right-footed Wissa doesn’t really try to avoid using his weaker foot. He seems comfortable using either foot to control, dribble, pass, cross, or even shoot. This increases his flexibility and versatility and it is apparent by the way he seamlessly slotted in as a winger on either flank last season.

Yoane Wissa 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Wissa shaping up to have a crack with his left.

However, despite being confident enough to use his weaker foot in certain situations, he still seems to be lacking proficiency with it. A lot of times he seems to already shape himself up to hit the ball with his left but he didn’t seem to be able to make perfect contact with the ball. That results in poor accuracy and sometimes also lack of power.

Tactical

Positioning and movements with/without the ball

Playing as a right-footed left-winger, Wissa has the tendency to cut inside and drive into the box with the ball. He’d then try to deliver a low cross towards his teammate or take a shot himself. Whenever he manages to free up himself and find himself in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper, Wissa usually tries to beat the goalkeeper by going around him before taking a shot. This shows a smart use of his physical advantage (speed, acceleration, and agility).

When playing as a winger (on either side) Wissa tends to sit narrower, occupying the half-space. As usual, this opens up some space on the flank and this could also confuse the opposing centre-back and full-back as they then need to decide who’s marking who. This heatmap below shows quite clearly where he usually positions himself and move.

Yoane Wissa 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Wissa’s heatmap in the 2018/19 Ligue 2 season.

As you can see in the heatmap above, Wissa tends to cut inside from the left-wing rather than hug the touchline and deliver a cross from the byline. Wissa also loves to drop slightly deeper to link up with the centre-mid and/or full-back. He tends to get inside the box to meet the delivery of his teammate if the ball is on the other side of the wing.

Wissa loves staying on the blind side of the defender before making an inwardly curved run to exploit the space behind the defence as apparent in this picture below.

Yoane Wissa 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Wissa playing off the shoulder of the defender and taking advantage of a left-sided centre-back who’s dragged out of position.

Wissa sat behind the full-back at first with Pierre-Yves Hamel (centre-forward) pinning both centre-backs. Hamel then dropped slightly deeper and moved to the right side, dragging the left centre-back slightly out of position which was already anticipated by Wissa who’s already on the move. The full-back didn’t know where he was and was late to react as Wissa managed to free himself and find himself in some space in front of the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation. This was something that happened a lot throughout the season and this ‘playing off the shoulder’ move was highly effective.

His excellent positional sense, as well as the ability to time his runs and beat the offside trap, are very impressive. His tendency to be in the right place at the right time, both inside and outside the box helps him and his team massively offensively-talking. Combine that with his ability to convert chances as well as blistering pace and outstanding power, Wissa could potentially be a Thierry Henry-like forward.

Yoane Wissa 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Wissa bringing the ball up before finally releasing the vital pass in and around the final third.

When in a transition from defence to attack, Wissa tends to bring the ball forward, dribbling it from deep before finally delivering the key pass in and around the final third. He preferred progressing with the ball instead of immediately launching a medium-long range pass into space or giving the ball to a more capable distributor.

Conclusion

Yoane Wissa may not be the most proficient player when it comes to the technical aspects of the game. However, his excellent physicality, as well as tactical intelligence, are the most prominent attributes of his. As a player who thrives in advanced areas of the pitch, those two are highly important. His splendid tactical and physical attributes also make him quite a versatile player who can pretty much fit into any team’s tactics.

There are, of course, certain technical attributes that he needs to improve. He certainly has enough time to develop his game and grow as a player as he’s only 22 years of age right now.

Wissa is still playing at Lorient in Ligue 2 at the moment and there seem to be no rumours (maybe at all) linking him to a move to any club around Europe, especially France. It looks like he’ll be staying with the club despite their failure to reach the promotion spots last time out. However, with Alexis Claude-Maurice being heavily linked with a move to European giants, Wissa may have a bigger chance to contribute to the team and impress the scouts this season. He still has time for a European breakout and we’re still waiting for that to happen.


Total Football Analysis Magazine #11: July 2019 - tactical analysis tactics
Artwork by @chapulana

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