Amine Gouiri at Nice 2019/20 – scout report
Amine Gouiri has left Olympique Lyon and has joined one of Les Gones’ Ligue 1 rivals, Nice, for the 2020/21 campaign. The France U20 international has joined Les Aiglons for almost £1m more than the club have recently received from RC Lens for the now-ex-Nice attacker, Ignatius Ganago.
Despite impressing in front of goal in the UEFA Youth League this term, scoring four in three for Lyon, and delivering some impressive goalscoring performances at international youth level, scoring five goals in six appearances for the France U20s, Gouiri didn’t get many first-team minutes at Lyon, making just five appearances in all competitions for the club during the 2019/20 campaign.
Now that he has joined Nice, the 20-year-old attacker will hope to advance in his career by establishing himself as a senior player in Ligue 1. In this tactical analysis piece in the form of a scout report, we will look at some of the key elements to Gouiri’s game. We will identify some of the positives of his game that may have played a significant role in Nice signing the player, while we will also examine some of the potential areas of improvement within Gouiri’s game in this scout report.
We will also examine Nice in this tactical analysis piece and we will look at their tactics from the 2019/20 season and try to determine how and where Gouiri may find a place with Les Aiglons’ plans for the 2020/21 campaign, as last season’s fifth-placed side will hope to challenge for a UEFA Champions League place next term.
Where could Gouiri fit in at Nice?
Gouiri has primarily played as a centre forward thus far during his young career, however, he also has some experience with playing on the wings and in the ‘number 10’ position.
Following Ganago’s departure, Gouiri will now be one of three natural centre forwards within Nice’s squad, the other two being his fellow ex-Lyon youth player Myziane Maolida and Kasper Dolberg. It should also be noted, however, that some other Nice players such as Alexis Claude-Maurice, do have some experience of playing in a centre forward position.
Dolberg was Nice’s main centre forward during the 2019/20 season, however, both Maolida and now-ex-Nice forward Ganago accumulated plenty of game time alongside the Danish attacker. Both Maolida and Ganago were frequently utilised on the wings last season.
The image above provides us with Gouiri’s heatmap for the 2019/20 season. While he is primarily a centre forward, we can see by this heatmap that the 20-year-old Nice attacker covers quite a lot of ground inside the attacking third of the pitch, spending quite a lot of time on the left-wing and spending the majority of his time in the left half-space.
While he usually lined his side up in shapes that utilised just one centre forward last season, Nice manager Patrick Vieira liked to use players who are comfortable with playing in a central attacking role, such as Ganago and Maolida, on the wings and these players would often enjoy opportunities to cut inside and attack central areas of the pitch last season, as we will discuss later on in this tactical analysis piece.
If Gouiri proves to be good enough to warrant a place in Nice’s starting 11 next season, but not quite good enough to usurp Dolberg as Les Aiglons’ primary centre forward, then a place on either wing, in particular the left wing, may be a viable position for the 20-year-old Lyon academy product next season.
Additionally, considering that Nice only have two other natural striking options available to them at present, and he has got plenty of experience with playing as a centre forward from his youth days, Gouiri is also likely going to provide competition to and serve as a backup striking option for Dolberg in the 2020/21 campaign.
If he can carry his youth form up to the senior level for Nice, then Gouiri could prove to be a welcome addition to Les Aiglons’ squad for the upcoming campaign.
Gouiri’s off-the-ball movement during a period of possession for his side is an important element of his game that must be studied in order to try to get an understanding of how he may gel with Nice and their tactics next season.
Regardless of whether he plays as a centre forward or in a wider position, Gouiri generally enjoys a great deal of freedom to roam around off the ball. He frequently likes to drop into slightly deeper areas of the pitch in order to collect the ball from less advanced players. By doing so, Gouiri plays an active role in his side’s build-up play.
This tells us a lot about the kind of player that the 20-year-old Frenchman is. He isn’t the type of player who only becomes visible inside the final third, rather, Gouiri is active off the ball in the early stages of his team’s attacks and can be seen making an effort to help his team during the build-up by offering his movement and ball-progressing qualities to help his team to advance up the pitch.
Gouiri was deployed as a centre forward in the match that this image above is taken from. However, as we can see here, he was happy to drop into deeper areas of the pitch on occasion in order to collect the ball from his more defensive teammates, offering a positive progressive passing option to his centre-back here, which the defender takes advantage of, as we can see.
During the build-up, Gouiri likes to occupy this type of position between the opposition’s defensive and midfield lines. If a teammate can find him in between the lines, either in a central position or in the half-space, then the attacker can provide a significant threat to the opposition because of his ability on the ball. His intelligent movement, however, plays an important role in helping him to even get into this kind of position in the first place.
As this passage of play moves on, we can see that Gouiri’s movement and the area of the pitch in which he picked up possession was effective at helping his team to beat two lines of pressure and immediately attack the opposition’s backline.
In a way, Gouiri placed himself into a box of sorts when he dropped into the position in which we saw him receive possession. This made it difficult for the opposition to deal with him, as neither of the two central midfielders wanted to drop that deep to pick him up, while neither of Nice’s two centre-backs were prepared to deal with his movement either.
After he receives possession, Gouiri enjoys plenty of space and he went on to run at the opposition’s backline and ultimately attempted a through ball to the attacker that we can see sitting on the shoulder of the opposition’s defensive line here in the image above.
This more advanced player was able to push into this position following Gouiri’s off the ball movement, as Gouiri’s decision to drop deeper created some space for his teammates to exploit further up the pitch.
Nice are no strangers to this concept. During the 2019/20 season, Dolberg operated in a similar fashion to this quite a lot of the time. In the image above, we can see that the Danish attacker has dropped slightly deeper in order to create a central diamond and help his team build from the centre of the pitch up into the final third.
As Dolberg makes this movement, he attracts an opposition defender to follow him out of the defensive line and we can also see one of Dolberg’s teammates spotting this and attempting to take advantage of the space that has now been created in the opposition’s defensive line, thanks to Dolberg’s movement, similarly to how Gouiri’s movement created some space for his teammate in the previous passage of play.
The fact that Gouiri is familiar with making similar movements to Dolberg and plays in a similar way to the Danish forward may be good news for Les Aiglons fans as their club’s new signing may be well-suited to the Dolberg-role within Nice’s squad and could provide a suitable backup to the Dane in that position.
The new Nice attacker has also shown an impressive ability to pull away from opposition defenders and find space for himself when positioned inside of the penalty area. The image above provides us with an example of one such occasion when Gouiri managed to create just a little bit of space between himself and the nearest opposition defender which was enough to get himself a shot at goal.
Gouiri and the nearest opposition defender had been running side by side into the penalty area while Gouiri’s teammate advanced up the wing in order to create a crossing opportunity.
As the two players arrived inside the penalty area, Gouiri successfully managed to peel away from the opposition defender and this sharp bit of movement, along with an impressive delivery from this winger, combined to create a shooting opportunity for the attacker.
This type of movement in the box is also another prominent aspect of Dolberg’s game and with that in mind, this element of Gouiri’s game could also prove to be useful in easing his transition from Lyon’s academy to Nice’s first-team.
Gouiri’s dribbling ability has proven to be one of his most prominent attributes thus far during the attacker’s young career. With that in mind, it is no wonder that Nice opted to sign the player, considering that they were a side who, last season, posted up some impressive dribbling numbers in relation to other clubs from France’s top tier. Only four other Ligue 1 sides attempted more dribbles per 90 than Nice during the 2019/20 campaign and now, with the addition of Gouiri to their squad, they could well add to their dribbling numbers next season.
During the 2019/20 season, Gouiri attempted an average of 6.7 dribbles per game in all competitions with a success rate of 39%. This means that the ex-Lyon man attempted more dribbles per game last season in all competitions than any Nice player other than Adam Ounas and Youcef Atal attempted per Ligue 1 fixture.
In this image above, we can see Gouiri operating in an even deeper area of the pitch than we saw him occupying in the previous passage of play from the last section. The attacker dropped fairly deep into his own half in order to try and collect possession from his defenders to feet, as we see him doing here, and subsequently advancing possession up the pitch.
As Gouiri receives possession in this deep area of the pitch here, he attracts the press of an opposition midfielder. However, the newly-signed Nice man spots this pressure as he diligently checked his shoulder to make himself more aware of his surroundings and create a picture of the rest of the pitch in his head.
Then, as play moves on, the attacker capitalises on the opposition midfielder’s hastiness, as he is able to gracefully avoid the midfielder’s challenge by knocking the ball through his legs immediately after turning and subsequently went on to carry the ball up the pitch.
Gouiri tends to operate well when put under pressure from an opposition player like this and his dribbling quality is a big reason for that. Gouiri is quick to turn, agile, and is intelligent enough to constantly check his shoulders and make himself aware of his surroundings when he drops to receive the ball to feet like this.
Gouiri’s ability to evade opposition challenges like this and his ball-carrying quality have been valuable at youth level and it makes him a difficult man to have to try and deal with, as he forces opposition players to make a choice on whether they will press him and risk getting beat by an impressive dribbler, like what happened here, or whether they will give him space and risk leaving a dangerous player to roam freely.
This image above shows Gouiri playing in a much higher part of the pitch during a much more advanced stage of the attack. However, similarly to the previous examples of him receiving the ball, Gouiri is not looking to receive a pass into space that he can run into here, despite being quite high up the pitch. The attacker still wants to receive the ball to feet, as we can see by his body language here.
As play moves on, we see that Gouiri did receive the ball in front of the opposition’s defensive line and carried it into the left half-space. His movement did allow some more opposition players to retreat and offer extra defensive cover, however, as he begins this dribble and approaches the opposition penalty area, he attracts the attention of as many as four opposition defenders who turn their attention to the creative attacker in an attempt to shut down his dribble in its early stages.
However, Gouiri thrives in situations like this. He likes receiving the ball to feet, no matter where he is positioned on the pitch and he very rarely receives a through ball in behind the defensive line. He also likes operating between the lines and in particular in the half-spaces, as when he occupying these positions, he can attract the attention and movement of plenty of opposition players and he can subsequently try to beat them via a dribble.
Gouiri likes positioning himself in a tight ‘box’ in between multiple opposition players where he can attract players from all angles as, firstly, this creates space for his teammates elsewhere on the pitch, and secondly, he has excellent close control and agility and he can come out of these tight situations still in possession of the ball. This skilful dribbling ability could be a big asset for his side inside the final third.
While Nice kept the fifth-highest average percentage of possession in Ligue 1 last season – 53.2%, they only played the 11th-highest number of through passes in the division (7.05) and the 14th-highest number of touches in the opposition penalty box per game, and this indicates that while Nice tended to enjoy a lot of the ball last season, they may have struggled with playing the final ball and creating clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
Gouiri’s dribbling quality and ball-progressing ability could provide a boost for Nice in terms of turning their possession into goalscoring opportunities next term.
Furthermore, as we mentioned earlier on in this scout report, there is a possibility that Gouiri may play on the wing for Nice on occasion next season and while he is more familiar with a central attacking position, the 20-year-old has played in the wide areas before, as we can see in this image above.
Here, the player received the ball out wide and ended up engaging in a 1 v 1 dribbling situation versus the opposition full-back.
As we can see in this next image above, as play moved on, Gouiri managed to cut inside, gliding past the opposition full-back and pushing into the left half-space where he has shown himself to be quite dangerous. The right-footed attacker can cut inside from this position and release a shot, or he can try to play through a more advanced teammate, which is what he attempts on this occasion.
In this particular passage of play, Gouiri is unable to find his teammate with the final ball, as he puts too much weight on the pass, however, it’s clear from this passage of play that his dribbling ability could be a big asset for Nice next season regardless of whether they deploy the attacker in a central position or on the wing. Gouiri’s versatility, in that sense, may make him a valuable asset for Les Aiglons next term.
As an attacker, Gouiri’s finishing ability is an important topic. Judging by the numbers, Gouiri has been a prolific goalscorer during his young career. However, he has, at times, been wasteful in front of goal, leading one to question how clinical he is.
This image above shows Gouiri striking the ball in one of his most recent competitive fixtures, a clash against a youth team from Serie A side Atalanta. The attacker is positioned on the edge of the penalty area here and this doesn’t appear to be an incredibly inviting shooting position.
However, the attacker managed to drill the ball into the top-right corner of the net from here, demonstrating his long-shot taking ability and his shot power. However, while this goal is undoubtedly impressive, Gouiri failed to capitalise on two more inviting goalscoring opportunities earlier on in this game.
Firstly, in this passage of play here, Gouiri carried the ball inside from the left wing and managed to beat the opposition right-back while carrying the ball on into the box. He manages to push the ball past the defender and creates a positive shooting angle for himself but, on this occasion, he fired the ball over the bar.
In this next example, Gouiri had been positioned inside of the penalty area and a teammate of his played a well-weighted cross into the box for him to pounce onto the end of.
While he had to deal with some pressure from the opposition defenders, this put Gouiri through on goal. However, the attacker once again squandered his opportunity by firing the ball straight down the middle of the goal, not really testing the goalkeeper.
While he went on to score from a more difficult shooting opportunity, Gouiri demonstrated how frustrating his finishing can be in this game and the attacker does have some work to do with regard to perfecting his ability in 1 v 1 shooting situations.
Gouiri’s movement and dribbling quality may be good enough to get himself into positive goalscoring positions, however, he may not yet be clinical enough to take advantage of that.
To conclude this tactical analysis piece in the form of a scout report, Gouiri has demonstrated plenty of positive traits and qualities, such as his dribbling ability and his off the ball movement, during his time as a Lyon academy player that make him look like an exciting prospect and a promising signing for Nice.
The 20-year-old is not without fault. His consistency in front of goal can improve, he can improve in terms of the delivery of his final ball and his aerial ability leaves a lot to be desired.
However, Gouiri has shown that he does plenty of things very well and he could be a valuable addition to Les Aiglons’ squad for next season.