Samuel Chukwueze: A Scouting Report
Mezzala Football provides a comprehensive Scout Report on one of La Liga’s most promising attacking talents, 21-year-old Samuel Chukwueze currently playing for Villarreal.
• Data Summary
• In-depth Data Chart’s
• Tactical (Attack/Defence/Transition)
• Key Attributes
• What does he need to improve?
The Nigerian began the campaign starting consistently in Villarreal’s starting XI, although his game-time somewhat stagnated mid-way through the season, being used as a substitute a few times before picking up a groin injury.
The 21-year-old returned from his injury late-February and has been a key part in The Yellow Submarine’s Europa League progression and recent turn in league form.
The Summary chart shows us straight away that data-wise he has been performing among La Liga’s elite in terms of a creative output, and around average from a goal scoring perspective, as well as winning a high amount of defensive duels.
Chukwueze spends the majority of time on the pitch more or less touching the right hand touch line, and attack’s both to the right of the box and in the right-hand half space.
The Nigerian excels at both Progressive Runs and Successful Dribbles, and produces around the average amount of xG and xA suggesting that their is usually an end product when he’s on-the-ball.
The final chart [bottom right] shows his game isn’t just one dimensional, and can carry the ball as well as make creative passes in and around the penalty box, a combination that would make for a frightening winger.
In-depth Data Charts
It’s best starting with the system that Villarreal deploy under Unai Emery. Usually a 4–4–2 or 4–5–1 line-up, with Chukwueze starting on the right side of midfield, so will naturally have more attacking freedom in the 4–5–1 formation.
In attack Chukwueze will usually take up either a position as close to the touchline as he can, pushing up as Villarreal push up, and whilst still wide, will often drop in between the left-back and left-winger of the opposition picking up a pocket of space. He will also move into the inside half-space occasionally.
In a 4–4–2, he will move into the inside half-space to provide more creativity through the centre and in-behind the strikers, whilst he tends to move inside in a 4–5–1 when making an advanced diagonal run from right to left, in-behind the opposition defence.
Defensively Villarreal will tend to go into a low-block system with both the 4–4–2 and 4–5–1. The 4–5–1 allows the Nigerian to have a slightly higher defensive position — but his main job is to track the opposing full-back, but doesn't necessarily have to man mark.
What are his Key Attributes?
Chukwueze’s passing is his most consistent attribute. Whilst just registering 3 assists in the league this season, the winger provides a vast amount of creativity around the box. From chipped through ball’s to line-breaking passes the Nigerian has shown a wide range of intuitive creative passes.
Villarreal’s counter-attacking set-up can often work seamlessly, especially in recent weeks — and I think this is largely due to Chukwueze’s ability to receive the ball on-the-move and take the ball in his stride. Whilst his positioning allows him to be able to bring the ball under control without any pressure on the ball, his close control both with his left-foot and the in-step of his right foot gives the winger an extra second on the ball to asses his options.
Players dribble and carry the ball in many different styles, and whilst the 21-year-old posses an acceleration over a very short distance, he tends to take short quick touches to progress the ball at his feet. When trying to carry the ball over a distance he will use short bursts of pace before slowing down and then repeating to carry the ball towards goal.
I also like that Chukwueze will rarely/if at all take any risks in areas of the pitch that would put Villarreal under immediate danger if he loses possession. Something that many young players lack, which shows a game understanding and a maturity.
What does he need to improve on?
One of the biggest areas for concern for me was his defensive positioning in and around his own penalty area. I felt he’d approach players too square on and be too far away, allowing the player in possession to have more options on the ball — which in a low-block set up needs to be improved.
However his defensive work rate and enthusiasm is good. An example of this was in Villarreal’s win against Eibar, when despite being 3–1 up in stoppage time Chukwueze ran the length of the pitch to help out and see out the game.
To develop his game even further, the young Nigerian must improve his goal scoring ability. Instead of passing to more advanced players all the time, I’d like to see him take on some of the responsibility and use his close control more to get into pockets of space within the penalty area to try and navigate a shot towards goal.
Whilst the 21-year-old is really good at picking up positions to receive the ball away from defenders, he struggles to keep hold of the ball when he receives the ball under pressure in an advanced position. Naturally, at such a young age this is something that players will learn over time, but it’s definitely something that clubs in more physical league’s will keep an eye on.
At the time of writing Samuel Chukwueze is in a really good position both for club and country, with Villarreal through to the latter stages of the Europa League he’s getting plenty of game time at a high level.
If Unai Emery’s side qualify for one of the European competitions for next season, staying at Villarreal, where he can further develop his game and get regular game time then that’s the goal. Although with his contract expiring in 2023, if the Spanish club fail to qualify, I wouldn’t be surprised to see teams start enquiring about the youngster.
Due to a range of qualities I think he’d suit various styled teams — although a counter-attacking team would make the most sense due to Chukwueze excelling when he has the ball in space and passing in-behind the opposition defence.