Amadou Haidara – Destined for the top

 

Amadou is a 19years old Malian central midfielder currently playing for RB Salzburg after joining their ‘feeder’ club FC Liefering from JMG Academy last summer and immediately helped win the UEFA Youth League while playing a major part of why the team was so good and eventually won the whole competition.

Amadou especially capitalised on the injuries sustained to first-team starters at the start of the season, when 4 players were out injured and he grabbed the opportunity by it’s balls and didn’t let go – as he currently stands on 4 goals and 2 assists in 22 appearances that put together clock in at 1557 played minutes which means he was involved in goal every 259minutes which doesn’t seem that much but it includes 7 appearances with less than 50minutes played and also 328minutes in the Europa League without a goal or assist. All put together he sits at being involved in a goal every 259minutes from a point of being a right sided central midfielder in a 1-2-1 midfield system, where most of the work and build-up goes through Berisha on the other side.

We can have a look at his stats in Europa League so far this season – as I don’t have access to much of any other data, especially those from Austrian Bundesliga..

amadou hadiara EL 17-18

There is a few very obvious things which you can see from this even without comparing him to other midfielders. His pass accuracy is horrible, while his tackles p90 & aerial duels won per 90 are incredibly good – altho he fouls quite often. And this is where looking purely on numbers is incredibly stupid and short sighted. His passing game or skills if you want are top class, the thing behind his low success percentage is very similar to what Memphis Depay had at PSV – he tries way more often riskier passes than other which may eventually be blocked/intercepted but that’s not the whole story, the risky passes he attempts are usually in the final 3rd, maybe one-touch passes, to break the lines, break the lock the defence has on them or simply during a counter which either leads to your team having a goalscoring chance or the opposition winning a ball in their own half by their last line of defence – so you can apply pressure immediately and prevent any potential danger.

I always liked and hated comparing up and coming young players to some legends or well known players of the game, but I really can’t think of anyone who is close to Haidara – I was thinking that in terms of passing he’s very much Naby Keita/Andres Iniesta style of a player, plays the ball smoothly, doesn’t put the receiving player under pressure, incredibly skilled at one-touch passing, fantastic vision behind the lines either on the ground or through the air and ability to pursue that vision and try it out and mainly – especially during the youth games I’ve seen him at, he was as a kind of a 3rd/4th forward coming in as a pure poacher in the box. His anticipation, timing and game intelligence are genuinely at a top level at this youth age.

If you’d watch him closely – solely as a single player during a match you would find the 3 most obvious traits in his game.

  1. He sometimes doesn’t track players back and may seem lazy (whether that’s system considering Diadie Samassekou is top class positionally is a question to be answered)
  2. He has the balls to try one-touch penetrating passes behind the defence a lot of the times
  3. His understanding of space, position and timing going forward is incredible for a 19years old

 

Some of the matches I’ve seen him for the youth team and why he looked so good to me –

 

he’s been playing as the left sided central midfielder in a 1-2 system and he was the sort of player that when you watch the game, you just see him all the time even if he doesn’t touch the ball, I love to call this “being a presence on the pitch” – something very similar to Emre Can on the pitch for Liverpool, you know he’s playing, you hear his name, you see him  everywhere where the action happens and he’s around everything important that happens – that’s the sort of player Amadou is.

There is a sign of respect to his game when you watch him play between seniors – a sign of a youth player, who understands his surroundings and knows, that he’s in something new and something he gets to get used to. Which by no any meaning is a bad thing at all, I’m a massive believer that skill and talent can potentially outweight work and understanding of training if you & your manager are on the same wavelength – which luckily Amadou has Marco Rose, the coach who won the UEFA Youth League with Salzburg and mainly Amadou in it.

I’ve personally done a few reports on Amadou and they are mainly put into the 3 points I mentioned above – the worst thing I’ve always found about him was that from the RCM position (RB Salzburg played 4-1-2-1-2 formation with Berisha as LCM & Haidara as RCM) was that he sometimes either didn’t understand who to track when they got through (this was especially visible during a game vs Vitoria de Guimaraes away) or he simply was lax and stood above the ball and watched the other defend or he was too slow to back them up – that’s why I’ve always mentioned on twitter, that I’ve felt he needs to be your main guy to go to when you go attacking – even if you play 1-2 (V type) midfield, one of your midfielders is the connection and the other is the advancer, he’s more suited to the type of advancer, the player who makes things happen in the final 3rd, very similar to Naby Keita in that aspect except of the dribbling and overall being an absolute world class player – because he has years of development ahead of him.

Wonder why I actually love him so much? Because of the immense potential ceiling on him – he hasn’t reach it or the consistency he needs to reach to be considered as big of a signing as Naby Keita was when he signed for RB Leipzig – but he’s also 3 years younger, he has the time and drive to develop, the necessary qualities which push him over his companions and the necessary time to improve in his weaknesses.

At the moment, Amadou is the another thing from RB Salzburg academy – team, that will leave multiple teams standing in the distance thinking, what the fuck did they miss

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