“Mickael Cuisance is a huge talent who is very versatile in midfield,” said Borussia Monchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl upon the arrival of the France youth international. Wanted by Manchester City, AS Nancy midfielder Mickael Cuisance chose Germany over the Premier League, which is likely down to several reasons.
Borussia Monchengladbach have already proven they have a strong emphasis on youth. Within Borussia-Park, the youth teams have their own changing rooms while their training pitches are next door to this impressive stadium. Of course, it’s great to have the possibility of working under Pep Guardiola but in Gladbach, Cuisance has the chance to make a name for himself amongst some of the best in Europe.
Born in Strasbourg, Cuisance moved west to Nancy where he had been scouted by some of Europe’s best clubs. Yet to make a first-team debut, Borussia Monchengladbach made a move for the versatile midfielder after impressing in France’s youth sides.
Joining the club in summer 2017, in just eight months, Cuisance has established himself as an important member of Dieter Hecking’s squad, given their injury crisis in midfield.
Lucky enough to attend Borussia Monchengladbach-TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, I had the privilege of watching the 18-year-old first hand and against a side who competed in this season’s Champions League, the youngster didn’t look fazed one bit.
Normally Gladbach would field Denis Zakaria and Christoph Kramer but injuries saw Hecking field a makeshift double-pivot of Cuisance and Jonas Hofmann. Although not the strongest defensively, Cuisance controlled the midfield, impressing in two key areas: passing and defensive positioning.
Initially fielding a 3-4-2-1 formation, Hecking tends to allow his attacking players freedom, which can be seen in the build-up to Borussia Monchengladbach’s equalised against Hoffenheim.
We see Cuisance and Hofmann acting as the double pivot in midfield but because Lars Stindl has dropped deeper, we see the duo shift which allows wing-back Oscar Wendt to keep the width.
On the ball, Cuisance has several options. He can play the ball out wide to Wendt but instead, the 18-year-old’s pinpoint pass beyond three Hoffenheim players allows Josip Drmic to score the equaliser. With no pressure on the ball, Cuisance was allowed to dictate the play which is something we will see more of.
Again, Cuisance created a clear goalscoring opportunity for Patrick Hermann. Receiving the ball from Stindl, the Frenchman was allowed time on the ball to loft the ball to the far post, where Hermann beat his marker thus forcing a save from Oliver Baumann.
Prior to receiving the ball, Cuisance knew he had space at the far post but not only that, he again has a few options to play when in possession. His midfield partner is available while he could have easily played the ball back to Stindl, or into the feet of Wendt.
When given playing time, Cuisance has always impressed. In an earlier fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt, the youngster kept possession ticking over.
This was a game that both Zakaria and Kramer both featured in, which allowed Cuisance freedom. Resulting in a goalscoring chance, Cuisance acted as the free man after Gladbach had played it out from the back.
Driving forward, Cuisance picked the ball up in the opposition half, playing the ball into the space behind the porous Eintracht Frankfurt defence to Hermann, whose effort cannoned off the crossbar.
We’ve seen that Cuisance can play passes in behind the opposing defence from both attacking and defensive positions but what the 18-year-old also offers is stability in defence, despite his stick-like frame.
After finding the equaliser late in the first half against Hoffenheim, Hecking opted for a 3-1-4-2 after the break with Cuisance acting as the holding midfielder. Here we see the 18-year-old has already noticed the danger coming from Serge Gnabry.
He is therefore able to knick the ball ahead of the German but where many would then lose the ball, Cuisance is able to keep his compare allowing Gladbach to retain possession of the ball.
As soon as the Frenchman has offloaded the ball, he’s already turning out and ready to receive the ball ahead of another Borussia Monchengladbach attack, which we can see below.
Sitting in that deeper role allowed both Stindl and Hofmann more freedom in an attacking sense with Cuisance acting as the cover.
It’s fair to assume that Cuisance’s game against Hoffenheim was his best in a Borussia Monchengladbach shirt, granted he hasn’t had many bad games of the 18 games he’s worn it in the Bundesliga this season.
With a 92% pass accuracy (60/55) and 100% accuracy in both crossing and long passes, one of Cuisance’s biggest strengths is finding his man. Able to play anywhere from defensive to attacking midfield, he offers Hecking a versatile approach, whether it’s winning the ball high up the pitch, or providing cover allowing other players to attack.
Defensively against Hoffenheim, Cuisance made six interceptions with only his game against Augsburg bettering that (8) while he made five recoveries, two of those in the opposing half. Anything positive that Gladbach created came through the Frenchman who received the ball 43 times, a Bundesliga high for Cuisance.
If the 18-year-old continues to impress in Zakaria and Kramer’s absence as he has been doing, then Cuisance has the potential to go on and be one of the best. Even in his early Bundesliga career, we’ve seen the attributes that the France youth international brings to the squad while it’s likely to be a tough ask for Gladbach to keep hold of Cuisance if they miss out on European football in the next couple of seasons.