On July 10 2020, the City Football Group signed Ishak Boussouf for 900,000 euros. The 2001-born playmaker was a crucial part of ES Setif this season. Though he hasn’t contributed with a goal or an assist yet, he has been one of the creative sparks of his team.
The most important feature of Ishak Boussouf is his technical ability, especially his touch and control.
Boussouf performed 7.73 dribbles per game, with a 55% success rate. He is the sixth-best dribbler in the league. Although it has to be mentioned that he did not play a large number of matches due to injury.
His low centre of gravity, grace, and excellent ball control helps him execute many successful dribbles. These traits help him move to any area of the pitch and at any angle he wants quickly, and the opponent will not be able to anticipate his next step.
In this picture below, Boussouf tricked the opponent, making him think that he will head towards the side but quickly turned his body in the other direction, moving centrally. His excellent control of the ball and his agility helped him in this scenario.
In this picture, there is space on the inside of the box, but he is also surrounded by three players. Still, in this case, he used his agility and good ball control to penetrate the opponent’s box.
And he tricks his opponent once again with the same feint – he makes them think he will move towards the side and then quickly changed his path towards the area in the box (highlighted in yellow) and plays a cross.
Boussouf is a speedy player as well, and if we add this feature to his good control of the ball and his agility, we can say that it is very difficult to stop him. All this makes him do a lot of dribbling in every game with a high success rate, even though he is a young player.
For example, in this picture, there is an empty space in front of him and Boussouf kicked the ball forward, using his agility to get rid of the opponents’ players, and then his speed to catch the ball, continuing the attack of ES Setif.
But the most important of all is that he uses these traits intelligently, and uses them to create space for himself and his teammates.
For example, in this picture, Boussouf forced the opponent’s centre-back to advance, facing him in a deeper area and then, passed the ball to the side, and quickly moved in the space left by the opposition centre-back.
In this picture, three players moved to stop it; this way, ES Setif players are freed from their markers.
This is Boussouf’s dribbles map in the final third – as you can see, most of his dribblings were successful, and this is very important for his team, and it poses a threat to every opponent.
Distribution and delivery
Boussouf is actually excellent in short / medium passes, and even long passes are great, and this is because of his direct and fast game style because Ishak always prefers to speed up his team’s attack and put them in front of the opponent’s goal.
Isaac’s pass statistics might look bad because he is playing 25.11 passes per game with a 69.2% success rate. But he was playing 3.09 long passes with a 50% success and 3.09 through passes with a 37.5% success.
In this picture, Ishak is surrounded by three players, and he has back pass options, but he preferred to play a forward pass to his teammate, Gacha.
Boussouf has fantastic vision too. He always tries to use this trait to put his teammates into suitable offensive positions, especially as he is good at passing.
For example, in this picture, he saw his teammate running behind the opponent’s defence, and played a long ball for him behind the backline of USM Alger.
Positioning and movements
Ishak Boussouf plays as a playmaker behind the attackers in a 4-3-1-2 formation, one of the preferred in his coach’s tactics.
This is a heat map of Boussouf’s moves, which are, as you can see, covering the entire field.
When off the ball, Boussouf tries to position himself in spaces that his teammates can reach, after which he uses his technical capabilities, to penetrate the opponent’s defensive structure.
In this example, Boussouf asked for the ball in an empty space, after which he played a pass behind the backline of MCA.
In this picture, there is an empty space inside the box, but he cannot enter it, which is why he used one-two trick with his teammate. This way, Boussouf was able to penetrate the box.
The phase of the build-up is also important, as his team tries to take advantage of his good positioning and technical capabilities to bypass the opponent’s pressure.
For example, in this picture, Boussouf is positioned behind the opponent’s first line of press and bypasses it in just one pass.
Despite the many advantages that the player has, Boussouf has some points to work and improve on.
First, the player is physically weak, and this appears in his stamina so that he cannot run after the ball for a long time. This is why he rarely completes 90 minutes of most matches.
He must also improve his decisions, because he underperformed his xG, and did not provide any assists, and this is due to the quality of his decisions because he often prefers dribbling rather than shooting or playing a pass inside the penalty area.
In addition to this, he must improve his right foot because he only uses his stronger, left foot. This makes it easier for defenders to anticipate his next step and stop him.
Defensively, he must be better in aerial duels because he loses them all, and be more fierce in pressuring opponent players.
The City Football group signed a playmaker who’s fast, creative and intelligent, which seems to be a good deal for them and for the Algerian national team.
His technical abilities mean he can get past a large number of players and create spaces for his teammates, after which he uses his passing abilities to exploit these spaces.
According to the contract he signed with the City Football Group, Boussouf will play for Manchester City after two seasons.
I think that this period will be sufficient for him to address his weaknesses, and he will be ready to play in the Premier League.