Tactical Player Profile: Alexis Claude-Maurice
When Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi posted a video of himself with former team mate Alexis Claude-Maurice, speculation immediately began about a possible move to Arsenal. At21 years of age, Maurice currently plays for FC Lorient in Ligue 2. Scoring 14 goals and assisting four for the 2018/2019 season, the Frenchmen’s performances have attracted attention of many.
Wide play was an area Arsenal particularly lacked any suitable options this past season. In terms of depth, quality, and in a direct threat to goal Arsenal were anemic from this area of the pitch. In this tactical player analysis we’ll explore how Maurice could be implemented at Arsenal, gauge his potential and what exactly his best position is.
What’s his best position?
Many have identified Claude-Maurice as a striker or second striker rather than a traditional winger like he’s been played as at Lorient. He controls the ball very well in tight areas, turns at decent speeds and has a quality touch.
In the ever demanding Premier League, serious doubt could arise over Claude-Maurice’s ability to be an effective wide player despite his undeniable quality. When someone thinks of a traditional winger you think of a player that enjoys beating defenders in isolated 1v1’s. However, Claude-Maurice doesn’t particular standout in 1v1 situations.
He often dribbles into central areas or likes to receive the ball centrally, sometimes playing in between the lines acting almost as a number 10. His play on the ball could transition the team into attack single-handedly and offered the team dynamic passing sequences.
He scored 27% of Lorient’s goals, scoring 1 every 221 minutes. Below is a goal he scored in Ligue 2 this season that demonstrates his predatory instincts inside the box and great timed runs through the middle. A quality you would relate to a striker.
Trying to define Claude-Maurice’s best position is one of the most interesting points about him because base don how he is currently used, there is no definite answer. At the age of 21 years-old he still has loads of time to develop and Arsenal would have many avenues to explore with him.
However, as Arsenal are concerned the squad already includes two world class Strikers in Alexander Lacazette and Premier League top goal-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Additionally, youngster Eddie Nketiah is also knocking on the door for first team action. So even though many possibilities exist for him, striker may not be where we would play the lad, especially with such a need for a wider player.
Implimentation at Arsenal
At Lorient Claude-Maurice played on the left side of a 4-2-3-1, a formation favored by Unai Emery and has had some success with in North London. As a winger, his tendency to dribble inside between the midfield and defensive lines could greatly benefit Arsenal in this particular shape. Creating dynamic passing sequences with the likes of playmaker Mesut Özil and the Gunner’s fierce strike force.
Claude-Maurice’s passing ability is criminally underrated. He is a forward thinking player, finding long diagonal balls to players in space or creating chances for his teammates with his passing vision. Arsenal’s high flying fullbacks and high-tempo passing play can benefit from someone with such mindset and passing ability. However, this should be taken with a grain of salt considering the quality of football he’s playing in a second division league.
At Lorient he also formed a great partnership with the team’s left side fullback, Vincent Le Goff. The 28 year old Frenchmen enjoyed freedom to take the wide space left behind by Maurice, scoring three goals and assisting six. Sead Kolasinac of Arsenal could enjoy this play as his best strength has been bombing down the wing looking to provide service from high and wide areas.
If Arsenal were to op to use him as striker or second striker he would most certainly need to be played with a strike partner. Unai Emery deployed Arsenal in a large variety of two striker shapes. Most commonly a 4-4-2 or 3-4-1-2. Alexander Lacazette who similarly excels in his ability on the ball completing 74% of his passes and 0.9 key passes per game could compliment Claude-Maurice’s play.
Comparison to current options
This season, Henrikh Mhkitaryan and Alex Iwobi were the primary players used for Arsenal’s wide play. Together they only tallied a total of 9 goal combined. Alexi Iwobi this Premier League season had a 0.17 xG per game, Mhkitaryan a 0.29 per game. This is severely low and not good enough for a club that wants to be consistently competing for trophies and champions league football.
Their inability to pose a direct threat from out wide highlights the pressing need for recruitment in this area. Even with Reiss Nelson returning and potentially featuring, there is still a significant players like Claude-Maurice.
With Alexis Claude-Maurice currently playing in the second division of French football, it’s tough to gauge his true potential and ability. He’s a young player with great quality who can operate in wide spaces, so you can understand why Arsenal have been linked with him. The Arsenal transfer budget is well known and smart buys are essential and there still may be just too many unknowns to justify his purchase. However, the club recently announced their intentions to make youth a massive part of the club’s future moving forward and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Guendouzi’s former teammate as part of the team’s makeup in the near future