French midfielder: Yacine Adli

After Paris Saint-Germain’s Yacine Adli appeared certain to be Arsenal’s first signing of the Unai Emery era, the player eventually decided to stay, starving the Gunners of what would have unquestionably been an astute and exciting piece of recruitment.

Full of dynamism, intelligence, and technical quality, the 18-year-old certainly has a promising future ahead of him. The man that previously worked under Emery, who was a big advocate of his from their time working together in Paris, he should adjust well to new PSG manager, Thomas Tuchel, and his ideology, attention to detail and overall demands without much fuss courtesy of his prior knowledge.

While the graceful attackingly geared central midfielder only played eight senior minutes for PSG last term, coming in their final game of the season, staying at PSG under Tuchel should be wonderful for his development, as he’s set to be granted many opportunities to prove himself.

A mainstay of the PSG and France youth setups, he’s one of European football’s finest prospects. Despite already being so talented, Adli still has a massive scope for improvement and will surely give PSG fans many highlights over the season ahead.

Once they get the chance to see him in action regularly, they’ll be suitably impressed too, for he possesses a multifaceted set of attributes that serve him well on both sides of the game.

Starting with his offensive armoury, and this is the area of his game that really catches the eye. An intelligent identifier and user of space, Adli takes up really strong positions when his team has the ball, where he’s constantly scanning to exploit openings for himself or to aid a teammate. Variations are key for him here, for he’s accomplished at dropping deep between or beside his central defenders to manufacturer overloads in build up, supporting wide areas by shifting to give numerical superiorities and cunningly drifting into spaces between the opposition midfield and defensive lines.

The way he orients his body shape prior to obtaining possession is also crucial, particularly in attacking areas, allowing him to receive in a forward facing position, meaning he can use his momentum to continue running upfield, as opposed to receiving with his back to goal or in an open posture.

Once with the ball at his feet, the languid youngster then uses his pace, feints, sharp control and shoulder drops to get the better of his markers. In addition, his razor-sharp turning circle, wicked agility and balance mean he can change direction instantly, with all of the afore parlaying to make him a very unpredictable proposition.

A polished distributor, Adli stamps his mark emphatically here too, where his vision, execution and solid range stand out. Whether exchanging passes in confined high-pressure scenarios, hitting penetrative balls that bypass his foes’ lines of pressure, playing ingenuitive through balls or launching sizzling cross-field diagonals, this is a huge asset for the Frenchman. To focus on the latter, and his long crossfield deliveries are really effective in ensuring his wingers or fullbacks can be placed into ideal isolation situations against the weak side of the opposition backline.

Remaining calm and composed when confronted with pressure, it’s endearing to see how comfortable he is when harried. Adli actually relishes being charged down, for he’s happy to provoke a pressing action so he can draw a tracker out of slot to create a free man further upfield. Another way he unsettles defences comes from his expertise at disguising his passes by using his eyes and body shape to send defenders off course, before releasing to his intended recipient.

Meanwhile, on the defensive end, he applies intense pressure on his opposition, always showing a willingness to step up and force an error or dispossess his targets. Importantly, he angles his pressing movements precisely as he keeps potential passing outlets in his cover shadow while bursting upfield to harry. His anticipation vitally transfers over to this area, enabling him to chime in with some vital interventions and to defend his designated area of operation soundly, plus when he slides across to cover the space in behind his wide men.

By the numbers, his statistics from his exertions with PSG in the UEFA Uefa Youth League and the U17 World Cup duly depict his quality, as he averaged 5.17 successful dribbles per 90, 2.9 accurate through balls p90, 0.81 assists p90, 2.32 shots p90, six accurate long balls p90, 13.4 final third passes p90 and 3.09 interceptions p90.

Speaking recently on his progression as a player at PSG, the prodigy gave a good insight into how he’s feeling comfortable at the professional level after his outstanding upbringing with the Parisien outfit. “It was a very good apprenticeship. I think I’ve become more mature, largely thanks to my integration into the adult game with the reserves, certain training sessions with the professionals,” he explained to Goal.

“I’ve also improved technically, tactically thanks to David Hernandez (PSG’s head of game methodology), who I’ve watched a lot of videos with, which has really helped me.
“But I think there are still some aspects I can improve. I’m aiming higher, so I’m full of things that can make me better.”

With all this in mind, observing the midfield maestro’s integration and progress this term will be intriguing. If all goes to plan, though, it shouldn’t be too long till we see him weaving his magic on a consistent basis and proving what a special talent he truly is.

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