There may be no football being played at the moment but with the conclusion of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, Watford was able to announce the signing of Pape Gueye. He may not be able to play till next season but the youngster comes with a big reputation. Since his introduction into the Le Havre, he has been a key presence in their midfield and captaining the side in their most recent games. This scout report will provide analysis on the youngster looking at his strengths and weakness and where he might be able to fit in at Watford tactics.


For Le Havre Gueye plays as either a defensive midfielder or left centre midfielder when Le Havre play with two in midfield. However, his role will maintain the same.  Gueye is a defensive-minded player and will look to control the game from the middle of the pitch by collecting the ball from the centre-backs and then moving his team forward.

As his heat map shows he will remain disciplined and keep to a central position. This is important for Watford especially under Nigel Pearson as in the 4-2-3-1 system Watford play the two defensive midfielders will remain in a central position then when defending cover the space in front of the defence. Therefore Gueye positional discipline could be important to Watford.

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Applying Pressure

At 6.1ft Gueye is a big presence in the middle of the pitch. This helps him to be good at recovering the ball and his defensive duties. The midfielder averages 6.91 defensive duels per 90 minutes with a 55.1% success.  The midfielder is also good in counter-pressing as on average he will recover the ball 6.99 times, he will particular do this in the middle of the pitch as out of the 282 times Gueye has recovered the ball 120 have been by counter-pressing in the middle of the pitch.

Part of the reason he good recovering the ball is the way he applies pressure. Looking at the example below notice how as soon as the midfielder receives the ball he is looking to turn. In this situation, he has a couple of options, as he could play the ball back to the wing, turn out to rotate the ball or look to drive forward. Gueye reads this and then can see by the midfielder’s body movement that he wants to drive forward with the ball. As a result, this triggers Gueye to apply instant pressure and is able to win the ball back. Gueye tackling technique is to go straight in for the tackle rather than forcing the opponent to make a mistake. He is able to do this as going straight in for a tackle with his tall figure means that players do not have time or space to move the ball out of the way. He is effective at this as out of the 37 times he as lost a defensive duel in the final third only once has it lead to a shot.

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Receiving the ball

As this tactical analysis has mentioned as soon as Gueye picks up the ball he has one thing in mind and that is to get his team forward. The way he wants to do this is by driving forward with the ball. This starts immediately as he receives a pass as soon as the ball comes towards him he will open his body up and let the ball run across him. What opening his body up enables him to do is have his body facing in the direction he wants to go meaning he can start his run that fraction of a second quicker.

This is what happens in the example below as Gueye wants to drive into the highlighted space so he opens his body up. What this does is draw the pressure from the highlighted midfielder. However, as Gueye has let the ball run across him it allows him to get into the space before the opposition player can get to him. In this particular situation the other midfielders step up reducing the distance Gueye is able to travel with the ball but he is still able to complete a forward pass.

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One of Gueye’s strengths is his ability on the ball. The Frenchman is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and is happy taking risks on the ball in order for his team to move the ball forward. However, as the midfielder does take risks it does lead to mistakes and it is often in a similar way. As the analysis has mentioned Gueye will let the ball run across him in order to run into the space. In order to do this effectively, Gueye has to be completely aware of his surroundings this is difficult to do especially when the opposition comes from his blind side.

As the example below shows, Gueye lets the ball run across him and is not aware of the player behind him. This combined with a poor touch enables the defender to come across and win the ball back. Luckily for Gueye in this scenario, the opposition tackle falls to another Le Havre midfielder but it does show a weakness for Gueye.  This is a worry for Watford as Gueye will not have the same amount of time in the Premier League and losing the ball cheaply is more likely to be punished. This might not be a major concern though,as the Frenchman technical ability on the ball should mean he is able to adapt.

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Progressive passes

The analysis has mentioned how as soon as Gueye receives the ball he is looking to get the ball up the pitch and if driving forward with the ball is not an option, he will look for a forward pass. This will depend on where he is on the pitch as when in a slightly wider position the youngster will look to switch the ball, however, in a central position he will look for a central pass in between the lines.

In a central position, Gueye will look for forwards movement to find a threaded through ball. In the example below, it demonstrates the type of pass he is looking for as it takes four of the opposition players out of the game. This is a more risky pass as it requires him to be accurate meaning only 45/76 of his 0-20m progressive passes are successful. However, in general, his progressive passes are successful as he operates at a success rate of 81.5%.

Pape Gueye -2019-20-scout-report-tactical-analysis-tactics 2Interestingly with Gueye’s progressive passing, it gets better the longer the pass as out of his 54 progressive passes over 40m 50 are where successful. This illustrates one of the Frenchman’s best attributes which is his long passing. Gueye will typically attempt a long pass when in a slightly wider position and will play a sweeping diagonal ball across the pitch with his left foot. What the example below shows is how this can open up teams as the long pass to a wide player means that he has space to run into and attack the opposition. This is very useful to Watford as they also look to switch the play quickly in order to get their wide players into the game as quickly as possible.

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This scout report has looked at Watford’s new signing Pape Gueye and how the youngster may fit into the Hornets tactics. It’s a credit to Watford that they were able to sign the youngster with teams such as Arsenal reportedly looking closely at the Le Havre man.  It maybe a while before he is able to play for Watford but the promising youngster definitely looks like a type of player that will be suited to Watford’s style of play.  He definitely has the characteristics to be a Premier League player but does need to work on his awareness at times but with experience Premier League players with similar characteristics and playing styles such as Étienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucouré in the Watford squad, he should be able to adapt quickly and learn what is required to be a prominent member of the Watford squad.