Highly-skilful Khvicha Kvaratskhelia may not have the most recognisable names in the world of football. Still, scouts from many of the top clubs around Europe are keeping tabs on the exciting talent. He plays for Rubin Kazan in the Russian top-flight, and the Georgian-born winger could be leaving for a bigger club, possibly to one of the top 5 European leagues – Leeds & Tottenham being the clubs link from the English Premier League.

He was named the Russian Premier League’s Young Player of the Year, which comes as no surprise as the dazzling-winger was a standout performer, with Kvaratskhelia scoring four goals, getting four assists in 23 games. Those stats may not be the most impressive, but his ball skills, ball progression, spatial awareness and match performances make him an exciting player and one to keep an eye on in the future. Whilst admittedly his attacking output can do with some improvements, with the correct development, it should not be too long before seeing Khvicha Kvaratskhelia getting double figures in goal contribution and see him grow in reputation in the Premier League.

In this scout report in the form of tactical analysis, we will look at what Khvicha Kvaratskhelia could bring to the Premier League by looking at some of his key strengths and what he can bring to his potential new employers.

Kvaratskhelia’s Position & Playing-Style

Position: Attacking Midfield Left,Right,Centre Height: 1,83 m Foot: Right

Predominantly a left-winger, Kvaratskhelia is a versatile attacking midfielder who loves to run at defences with the ball at his feet. On the left, he does so by receiving the ball in space, turning and proceeding to cut inside to create a chance. He does, however, have a competent left-foot which sometimes takes him on the outside of a defender but has a higher tendency to come inside, on to his preferred foot.

Kvaratskhelia heatmap from 2020/21 Russian Premier League

This heat map shows that Kvaratskhelia spent the whole season out on the left flank, operating in the left half-space, making it difficult for defenders to mark and track. Once Kvaratskhelia picks up the ball in these areas and drives at defences, he causes panic for defenders, forcing them to drop deeper or commit themselves. If a defender chooses to engage, Kvaratskhelia has more than the ability to skip past the challenge, which can be a good playing trait for an inverted-winger and a bigger bonus for teams, like Leeds, who have their wide players come inside often.

Kvaratskhelia shotmap from 2020/21 Russian Premier League

When looking at Kvaratskhelia’s heatmap and then shot-map, we can start to get a picture of the type of player he is. At least, where he attempts to create chances and score goals for his team. These shots often result from him picking up the ball on the left, cutting inside and going at goal if the opportunity to create is not on. As we can see, this area needs improvement to be a ‘top player’, and one way he could improve his goal contributions is to work on his off-the-ball movements as well as anticipation, increasing his ability to read attacking situations and, in turn, should raise his xG, which totalled 4.25 in the Russian top-flight. According to Wyscout, he takes 2.54 shots per 90 (48.8% on target).

The Russian leagues have kick-started their 2021-22 season, and so far in the first four matches, Kvaratskhelia has managed to get himself on the score sheet. This goal came against Arsenal Tula, where he also attempted 13 dribbles, completing 10 (77% success rate).

The Georgian-international completed the most 1v1 dribbles per 90 (14.6) in 2020-21 and the 2nd most ball-progression by runs (166.7) in the Russian top-flight, making him a promising ball progressor at just the age of 20.

Kvaratskhelia’s Silky Skills

1v1 dribbles total attempted /90

As mention before, Kvaratskhelia is a skilful player who thrives on dribbling 1v1, making him a very progressive player bringing the ball forward with the ball at his feet. Not too many full-backs fancy defending in 1v1 situations, and Kvaratskhelia can make full-backs uncomfortable during the 90 minutes. He also suffered 2.04 fouls per 90, which can lead to dangerous attacks for his team if these are in good goalscoring positions, and for Rubin Kazan, many of these were not too far away from the right side of the opponent’s penalty area.

This image shows Kvaratskhelia pulling out to the touchline, in space, to receive the ball from his full-back.
Once he collects the ball, he immediately drives at the opponent’s right-back (1v1).

He attempts to knock the ball past him and is brought down by the defender. Kvaratskhelia winning a free-kick for his side.

His skills, of course, are not only valuable for win free-kicks. They can create open play chances and help his side progress the ball upfield quickly too. However, this demonstrates how his dribbling can be helpful and effective in creating different opportunities for his side.

The 20-year-old has good spatial awareness too. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia can read opponents and understand the space around him. Understanding the space/area around a player can determine their next move, and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia uses it to his advantage to beat a defender or expose a particular weakness.

Here is an excellent example of Kvaratskhelia making himself aware of what’s around him and acting on it. As the two central defenders are circulating the ball, he takes two glances over his shoulder to predict the defending team’s next move. Notice by the second image, one defender has started to engage.
As he collects the ball and both defenders engage, he then slows down the play a bit to invite more pressure facing his own goal so that both defenders fully commit.
Now both defenders have committed, he performs an excellent piece of skill (almost like a Cruyff turn)…

…before leaving both defenders for dead. Then performs another action he does so well. And that’s progress with the ball.

There was a risk of performing this action, but it highlights his confidence in his ball skills to get past opponents and progress or create something for his team. This confidence, composure, and ability could also make him a reliable option to help his team escape tight spaces or pressing traps. The youngster has good press resistance.
This image shows Kvaratskhelia receiving the ball from his wide partner with his back towards the opponent who is relatively tight to him. Him having his back towards the opponent was a recurring theme as he liked to drop to receive.
Kvaratskhelia held off his opponent when the defender got tight and waited for him to commit. Once this happened, Kvaratskhelia showed excellent skill and control to nutmeg the defender. Note how the defending have outnumbered Rubin Kazan here.

Then, Kvaratskhelia showed good acceleration to get past his marker and the tight space. He proceeded to drive into space progressing the ball for his side.

End Product – Creating Scoring Chances

His ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates is an area that may need developing to reach his potential. Kvaratskhelia’s on the ball skills could be used more effectively to create assists; however, he did end the 2020-21 season with the second-highest xA for Rubin Kazan with 3.78xA. Nevertheless, with three assists to his name, he did slightly underperform.

This is partly because Ruben Kazan aren’t the most adventurous side and did not create many scoring chances. Also, his teammate’s ability to score the opportunities created by Kvaratskhelia; still, he was ranked 18th with xA in the Russian Premier League in the 2020-21 season (best u21 performer), and if a move for him does not materialise, his xA could do with some improvements in the Russian premier division to increase his attacking output.

Here is an example where he used his dribbling effectively to create a clear scoring chance for his side.
After a slice of good fortune, Kvaratskhelia comes away with the ball as a result of an attacking duel.
Once in control of the ball, he immediately progresses and drives towards the opponent’s defence. By doing so, he will have more passing options and better passing angles to create a scoring opportunity.

After dribbling to the edge of the defending team’s penalty box, he players a lovely pass into the attacker’s path, setting up an excellent scoring chance. The attacker ended the move with a goal, and Kvaratskhelia getting an assist.

He can be a highly creative player and improve his chance creation, though his end product will need to be more decisive in the crucial zones. With his confidence in beating players and with the ball at his feet, his technique, at the last moment, can let him down and more specifically, he tends to over-hit passes or crosses.

This slight weakness is not a significant worry if we consider Kvaratskhelia is only 20 years of age and has shown determination to improve his game. Maybe this is just nitpicking, but there was a big enough example size for this to be analysed. Thus, training with the right coach(es) can improve his technique in the end-product stage in vital attacking situations and improve his chance creation.

Here, Kvaratskhelia displayed good vision spotting his teammate making a surge inside the box. In an attempt to play the ball into his path, he tries to curl his cross around the defender.

Which, the pass was overhit and forced his teammate out wide to recover the ball. Though this action was not simple to perform, it demonstrates he can spot a good chance, but the execution can let him down.

And here is another example of Kvaratskhelia overhitting his pass in a vital moment.

This camera angle admittedly is not perfect for assessing the situation in a screenshot. Nevertheless, here, Kvaratskhelia displays good vision and has spotted a teammate making a run behind the defender (number 6). He then attempts to use the outside of his foot to play the pass.
Kvaratskhelia scout report

Now, we can see the man Kvaratskhelia was attempting to play in with a slightly better angle. Unfortunately, in this attacking move, the pass was overhit again and similar to the last example, it forced his teammate out wide to recover the ball for Rubin Kazan.

As mentioned before, this is not a big worry and something that could be worked on the training pitch and possibly, he could have a better attacking output playing in a more positive thinking side. Ruban Kazan had an xG of 44.97, which ranked them 9th in the 2020-21 Russian Premier League. In a side with more creative freedom and forward runners, Kvaratskhelia may have more options in those crucial attacking situations and may opt for the more simple pass rather than often attempting a complex action due to lack of options.

Conclusion

To conclude this scout report, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has the ability to be playing in a more competitive and higher standard league. He is undoubtedly a unique player with an aura that automatically grabs attention when he is in motion. He is far from being a complete player but also one a defender can not ignore on the pitch.

He is highly skilful, slender and though one would not say he has been blessed with pace, he glides past defenders and is difficult to stop in his tracks. As covered in the analysis, his end product sometimes can waste an excellent attacking situation, but he can also become more direct. Furthermore, I mean that he dribbles a lot, and at times, he likes to beat a defender multiple times before driving down the byline or towards the box. Though it is delightful to watch, he can be more efficient.

But that wraps this scout report, I hope you have enjoyed it.

Credit Wyscout for stats and in-game pictures