Youssoufa Moukoko 2019/20 – scout report
At just 15 years old, Youssoufa Moukoko is already seen as the most promising talent at Borussia Dortmund. Moukoko currently plays in the U-19 Bundesliga and scored a stunning 34 goals in 2019/20 thus far.
In this scout report, we are going to take a closer look at why the young attacker is seen as one of the most promising talents in world football, apart from all age debates. In the form of a tactical analysis, we depict Moukoko’s style of play, his finishing abilities, off-ball movement and his actions during pressing. Furthermore, our scout report also unveils where Moukoko still possesses room for improvement.
Player profile & stats
Moukoko is lined up as the centre-forward in Borussia Dortmund U-19’s 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 system in which they usually play. As a consequence, he is obviously the main man when it comes to chance creation and goalscoring which can also be seen if we take a closer look at his player radar.
The stats in the top right corner of the above displayed player radar underline his goal-scoring abilities. He scores 1.77 goals per 90 minutes on average (G/90), and has 5.76 shots per 90 minutes on average (S/90) of which 61.54 % are shots on target (SOT%). That makes a goal conversion rate of 30.77 % (GC%) underlining his threat in front of the opposition goal and he has got 6.31 touches within the box per 90 minutes on average (TB/90). In addition to that, Moukoko also dribbles quite often which is proven by his 7.36 dribbles per 90 minutes (D/90) with a success rate of 47.37 % (DR%).
With his pace, he often threatens the space behind the back line with deep runs. But he is also capable of utilising space between the lines once created. These abilities enable him to be such a threatening attacker as we will further depict in the following paragraphs.
Clever off-ball movement & blind side runs
Where Moukoko moves most frequently can be seen in his heat map displayed below. In general, Moukoko mainly moves within the three central channels (central channel and the half-spaces) with an emphasis on the most central channel. That allows him to stay within the most threatening areas in terms of finishing which will also be referred to in the “goal-scoring” paragraph.
One of the main reasons why Moukoko gets so many chances per game is his clever off-ball movement. He likes to utilise blind side runs as well as to start deep runs from a position between the lines as we will explain in the following.
If the opposition shift towards the ball side, Moukoko will keep his position or even move contrary to the opposition in order to get between defenders or onto the blind side of his direct opponent. That enables him to start a run into space behind the back line with the opposition defenders struggling to react soon enough as they rather focus on the ball than on Moukoko.
Moreover, the Cameroonian-German occasionally also keeps distance to the opposition defenders vertically. He will move a few metres away from the back line dropping into space between the lines. As a consequence, he poses a risk for the opposition with his ability to receive the ball. If his direct opponent moves out to mark Moukoko tightly however, Dortmund’s attacker will exploit the vacated space behind the defender with a deep run. If possible, their midfielders will look to play through passes into Moukoko’s run in these scenarios.
As already depicted in the stats section, Moukoko is a clinical striker in front of goal. Here’s how he commonly scores his goals.
Moukoko often prefers low shots rather than trying to hit the top corner of the goal. He will aim at shooting past the goalkeeper rather than hitting right into the corner. And although there are also some shots from outside of the box, Moukoko mainly prefers to finish within the opposition box. And as the shot map below shows, his shots from inside the box are obviously more promising as well.
And if we take a closer look at the vertical channels from which Moukoko scores from, again we can see a focus on the most central channel as for his heat map. Statistically seen, this is not a surprise as the most goals are scored from the area centrally in front of the 6-yard-box. Moukoko simply seems clever enough to move within the most threatening areas most of the time to get the most promising shooting opportunities possible.
A common theme of how Moukoko scores is after a through pass delivered into his deep run. Therewith, he will exploit open space and often use the blind-side as already mentioned before. But his pace makes him especially threatening during the offensive transitions when the opposition defenders cannot cover each other. That creates 1v1 situations and, against Moukoko, the defenders can only try to intercept the pass or hope for a misplaced pass as they cannot keep up with the pace and good timing of Moukoko’s runs.
In terms of crossing, Moukoko prefers low-ground crosses as it allows him to finish with his feet, preferably the stronger left one. Again, he will aim at receiving these crosses either centrally in front of the goal as a cut back, as in the image below, or at the first post.
But he is also good in anticipating rebounds or the actions of the defenders. Therewith he can either score goals which seem rather simple by tapping in the rebound after a corner-kick (against Gladbach he scored two goals after corners at the second post) for example, and also force the opposition into mistakes. How exactly he does that during the defensive phase will be discussed in the following paragraph.
The young attacker who joined Dortmund from St. Pauli also likes to press. The pressing tactics of Dortmund U-19 mainly revolve around disturbing the opposition build-up play as early as possible. With a PPDA value (pass allowed per defensive action) of 7.05, Dortmund are among the sides with the highest pressing intensity in the youth Bundesliga.
Although Moukoko rarely is the first to actively press the opposition, he guides the opposition into certain areas. Dortmund will rather wait for a pass into midfield or a horizontal pass in order to press with their midfielders. With the use of his cover-shadow, Moukoko can prevent the opponent from switching play though and therewith force them to stay on one side of the pitch or even to play through the compact centre of the pitch.
He will rather stay at the height of the opposition defenders. But by pressing backwards occasionally, he can also win the ball from the opposition midfielders due to his advantage of the blind side.
Another advantage of his positioning during the press is that it allows him to take in ideal positions for possible counter-attacks. Through staying between the centre-backs, he can either receive the ball unmarked during offensive transition or force one of the defenders out of position to create and exploit space.
Moukoko is a technically gifted attacker. Nevertheless, the left-footed Dortmund player heavily relies on his strong foot which might be his biggest room for improvement. While his body feints allow him to dribble back to his left foot in the youth Bundesliga most of the time, experienced defenders would probably intercept this move. A stronger right foot with a threatening finish would make it way more difficult to defend against Moukoko, however.
Furthermore, an attribute which is often expected from a centre-forward is aerial ability. Although Moukoko can be described as a typical number nine in some aspects, he lacks aerial ability. When receiving a high ball within free space, for instance after his common movement to drop into space between the lines, he is able flick the ball on to one of his teammates using his head, preferably to a winger starting a run into space behind the opposition defence. In a direct aerial duel, however, Moukoko often stays on the ground and attempts to intercept the following situation instead of attempting to win the duel. The young striker wins only 22.7 % of his aerial duels and therefore, one cannot expect from him to be a threat from high crosses.
All in all, as our analysis showed, Moukoko is a huge talent and he is, undoubtedly, the most threatening attacker in the U-19 Bundesliga at the moment. His clever off-ball movement and finishing abilities enabled Moukoko to score 1.77 goals per 90 minutes on average although he can still work on his aerial abilities and his weaker foot.
There are several clubs which scout Moukoko including Barcelona. Despite all of his abilities though, one will have to be careful to slowly develop Moukoko to a top-level player on seniors level since cases like Jann-Fiete Arp have shown that too high expectations can be more of a burden than a blessing for a young talent.