Crossing isn’t as valued as it once was. The days when teams lined up with a David Beckham on the right and a Ryan Giggs on the left who focused on attacking down the flanks and crossing curling efforts from the sidelines towards the centre. Nowadays most teams have left-footed wingers on the right and right-footed on the left who focus on cutting inside and are more playmakers than out-and-out wingers really. That is if teams even have wingers, with the trend of five-man defences with wing-backs in attack meaning traditional wingers doesn’t even have a place on the pitch. Still, crossing can be an effective weapon when attacking. Whether in-swinging towards goal or out-swinging from goal crosses can cause all kinds of problems when delivered with quality.
This brings me to the Kosovo-born 21-year-old winger Milot Rashica who plays for Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands. Rashica joined Vitesse in 2015 and has impressed in the Eredivisie. In his first season he made 31 appearances, scored eight goals and made three assists. In his second campaign, he only managed two goals but contributed ten assists in his 33 matches. Rashica has started this season in great form, making four starts so far with a goal and three assists already to his name. His stats suggests this is a burgeoning talent, and when looking more in depth at the player he is we’ll find a throwback to the crossing-era.
Rashica is an old-fashioned right winger. He’s usually found hugging the touchline before receiving the ball, taking his opponent on and delivering out-swinging crosses into the box. He can combine centrally too but his quality lies in traditional wing-play. As you see in the clip below, Rashica has the technique, skill and pace to go past opponents before setting up teammates.
What makes Rashica so intriguing and rare in today’s game though is the quality and consistency of his crossing ability. He usually goes past his opponent thanks to his dribbling but his crossing technique also makes it possible for him to deliver without needing to beat his opponent. This basically means he’s a combination of dribbling wingers and crossing wingers, making him doubly dangerous. Enjoy the art of crossing in the video below.
As you saw in those clips, Rashica highlighted his quality as he ripped Jordan Lukaku to shreds as Vitesse narrowly lost to Lazio with Rashica providing both assists for the Dutchmen’s goals. He can scored them himself though, and as the three scored below shows, they usually come from him attacking a left-back from the right wing where he feels so comfortable.
Milot Rashica is a throwback to a previous era, when crossing was the most used weapon to create chances. As Inter have shown in the last few years with their traditional wingers Antonio Candreva on the right and Ivan Perisic on the left, crossing can still be highly effective in the modern game. Maybe defenders aren’t being coached as much in defending crosses as for example dealing with individual 1-vs-1-situations. Rashica could therefore be an intriguing option for any team looking for a traditional winger-type to threaten down their right flank. His position right now is obviously as an out-and-out winger but his skill set could also see him be an interesting fit as an attacking right wing-back. Given his production in the Netherlands and the fact he’s only 21 years old, Rashica could be a name to remember in the future. Until then, if you enjoy watching a quality crosser in action, give Vitesse and Milot Rashica a watch.