Thauvin signed for Newcastle in 2015 aged 22 and was a big signing for McClaren’s side. After playing just 420 minutes for the later relegated Newcastle, he was loaned back to Marseille and eventually made the permanent move back home. Looking back on his experience in England he admitted that the Premier League was too physical and he wasn’t ready. He struggled to adapt and integrate into the side and the culture.
In 2016/17, back at his hometown club, he had a great season with 23 league combined goals and assists. Now he is backing up this success in France again and has earned 2 international caps in the process. He now plays in a talented Marseille side who currently sit fourth in Ligue 1, just three points behind second place. He plays on the right in Marseille’s 4231 formation. Starting in a skilful attacking midfield with Dimitri Payet and Lucas Ocampos.
This impressive radar shows his stats this season, particularly in playmaking areas. It is a radar which is similar to Dimitri Payet in terms of shape and size. I’ve written about Payet more previously. His number of dribbles made put him in the top 5% of players, however he does also lose the ball a lot.
Finding Space Between the Lines
In this example, Thauvin (circled) passes in to the midfield before the ball is played wide to Ocampos. After making the pass Thauvin drifts casually into space between Paris Saint-Germain’s lines. Ocampos is able to get in behind the PSG defence but only gets to the ball on the byline and can’t do much but try to cross it. Thauvin gave a dangerous option for a cut back as he made a run behind the defence which was focused on Ocampos and facing the cross rather than down-field, unaware of Thauvin’s run. As seen below he runs into space in the box and if the pass was weighted better for Ocampos, could have resulted in a great chance. These late runs into the box before the defence can react to him is a common move for Thauvin.
The image below shows Thauvin running into space after again finding himself between the PSG lines. Anguissa wins the ball for Marseille in PSG’s half. Thauvin collects the loose ball under pressure and lays it off to Payet. He then continues his run, looking for a through ball from Payet who is under pressure and chooses to shoot from range. Thauvin is again unfortunate to not reap the rewards of his movement into dangerous areas in the early stages of a match against a top European team.
As an effective presser and hard worker, Thauvin makes a tackle in his own half and ignites a counter attack. After making the tackle he instantly begins a run between the lines to escape the opposition midfield and receives the ball in his stride. The french winger advances the ball to the opposition box with the PSG defence on the back foot. However, his teammates don’t offer enough support and Thauvin is forced to play a safe pass back into midfield once he gets to the box before Marseille get caught in possession.
Seeing that Thauvin shoots 4.1 times for every 90 minutes he plays I was worried he was a greedy player who shoots from distance every time he touches the ball. I was wrong to be concerned as you can see above. Shooting with this quantity ranks him 13th in the top five European leagues for shots per 90 minutes, only behind the top attackers in the world. Thauvin’s chances account for 23.1% of shots taken by Marseille in the league, a huge input from the young winger. He has also played 94% of available minutes in the league, he is clearly a key player for Marseille, who are a top team in France and battling for 2nd spot.
Although still shooting regularly from outside the box, 57.6% of his chances have been inside the penalty area, 50% of which are inside the danger zone. The other 50% come from wide areas of the box, which are usually the result of Thauvin cutting in from his right side. This shows his tendency to cut inside and shoot and also float into more central areas, as shown in the gif I used at the start.
Thauvin is enjoying his second straight brilliant season in Ligue 1. When talking about his short stint in the Premier League he says he wasn’t ready. But with two more years of experience and excellent performances surely Premier League teams will be looking at him in summer if he wanted to try again in England. As a fast player who presses well and can beat his man then it won’t be long until we see him moving up the football ladder and hopefully the Premier League.
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