Who is Arsenal target Axel Disasi?
Following on from my last scout report on Jonathan Tah, Arsenal have reportedly made significant progress on the signing of Stade de Reims centre back, Axel Disasi. The reported £15 million fee for the 22-year-old Frenchman, is a snippet at that which Arsenal have been quoted for with other options.
This scout report will analyse Axel Disasi and decipher his playing style and what Arsenal fans can expect from him.
Playing Style –
Axel has only played 55 first team games, stretching from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1 over five seasons. Axel is very much a defender who eludes fear and flies into challenges with a wholehearted commitment. At times it does somewhat look rash as his 6ft 2in body flies into an opponent. Axel’s confidence and composure on the ball is a true asset and the centre back regularly enjoys coming out from the back with the ball. Axel clearly wants to be on the ball and be involved in the build-up phase, as he regularly joins in with attacks. His speed means that he can recover and comfortably play as part of a high defensive line. Something which Arsenal don’t have too much of.
For Stade de Reims, Disasi has primarily played in a back four as the right side of the two or as a right back. For 58.75% of his career he has been playing in a 4-2-3-1 and appears very comfortable in this system. This is something of a plus for Mikel Arteta. He will want to sign players who are comfortable in the formation and system he wants Arsenal to play in and having players who are used to this could be a massive benefit especially given how little time teams may have for preseason next season.
Axel is very much an all-action defender, who enjoys physical duels. Of his total 480 duels this season, Axel has won 65.4%. A total of 35% of these duels have been aerial, with Disasi winning 60.7% of his 168 total aerial battles. Throughout the duration of his career, Disasi has shown formidable aerial ability, winning 60.5% of his 200 total aerial challenges throughout his career. As well as in the air, Axel is also very strong intercepting the ball and regaining possession. This season, he has intercepted the ball 141 times. Furthermore, Disasi has recovered the ball a grand total of 386 times, 40 of which have come in the opponents half.
Regarding the comparison with Tah, Tah has won 61.2% of his 129 aerial battles this season, a 0.47% increase on Disasi’s 168 battles. Tah has intercepted the ball a total of 171 times this season. He has recovered possession for his team 386 times the exact same as Disasi. Tah has however, recovered the ball 36 times more in the oppositions half. This largely could be down to the contrasting style of the teams they play in and the difference between Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga. Both Disasi and Tah are comfortable stepping out and breaking the defensive line to tackle an opponent, but out of the two, Tah reads the game better and assess situations as to when to hold and when to press out from the defensive line at the most effective time.
As previously mentioned, Axel is a very progressive modern-day centre back. He likes to play the ball and contribute further up the pitch. Of his 1642 passes this season he has had a success rate of 88.3%. During his career, Axel has played a majority of passes forward with 68% of his total 1797 passes being forward. This season, Disasi has averaged 48.37 passes per game, which further enhances his desire to be involved in the game. Regarding long passes, Axel’s ability is there to see. Of his 192 accurate long passes this season, Axel has completed 53.6% and averages 5.65 long passes per 90 minutes. He enjoys playing fast direct long balls across the pitch trying to maximise the full width of the pitch.
In comparison to Jonathan Tah, Tah has played 79.9 passes per 90 minutes which is 31.62 more than Disasi. Tah also has a higher passing accuracy rate at 91.7%. Disasi does have a greater long pass accuracy at 53.6% to Tah’s 51.57%. With Tah having a similar number of long balls played at 190 this season. Tah has roughly 2 years greater development and is the better choice on the ball. Perhaps Arsenal feel as though they can develop Disasi to a similar level as Tah. He clearly has the basic fundamentals to play out from the back. It just depends if you want a player who can perform at a high level now, or develop one for the future.
Among relative inexperience, Axel Disasi is quite erratic and often makes rash decisions in dangerous areas. An example of this, are the number of risky slide challenges in the box at high speed he makes. In full flight, Disasi likes to make tackles approaching from the blind side, that and inch wrong would give away a penalty and see him brandished a red card for reckless play and endangering an opponent. Another weakness is his desire to get forward and his decision making in this process. Whilst this is a commodity and something Mikel Arteta will want to see his centre backs doing, sometimes it would appear Disasi does not always fully evaluate the situation before joining the attack. Both of these weaknesses are aspects of his play which can be worked on and altered, however are worth noting.
In conclusion, It’s clear that there is a model of centre back Arsenal and Mikel Arteta are looking for. Both Axel Disasi and Jonathan Tah are very similar regarding their stature, physicality, playing style and mentality. As well as this, they have both had relatively similar seasons in terms of statistical numbers. Disasi would be a great signing for Arsenal and for the reported £15million, the 22-year-old would be a bargain. If the coaching staff can better tame his rashness and decision making, then they may have found a real gem. Personally, I think Arsenal will need to find someone who can slot in next Disasi to give him stability and guidance, with a calm aura. Whether Arteta feels he already has that player, or needs to bring him in, is something only he knows. I don’t think this would be the case with Jonathan Tah. I think Arsenal should sign Disasi over Tah and reallocate the extra £25 million elsewhere.