Age: 22 (01/07/1997)
Club: RC Strasbourg
Height: 184cm / 6ft
Foot: Two footed
With RC Strasbourg drawing a lot of praise for some of their performances last term, and players such as Kenny Lala being linked with big money moves, other players such as Anthony Caci seem to have gone somewhat under the radar. Having broken into the Strasbourg starting eleven at the beginning of the season, the now former France U21 international has kicked on, playing over 2900 minutes in the 2018/19 season. The 22-year-old, who appears to be equally confident with both feet (a rare quality) can play anywhere across the defence, playing in both wing-back roles as well as a centre half in the Strasbourg back five. As a result, he would also obviously be suited to playing either full back role in a formation with four defenders. Based on the footage I have watched and the statistics he produces in each position (which will be examined in this analysis) it would appear that Caci is currenntly more suited to a wing back or full back role rather than that of a central defender, however, he spent the most time as a centre back last term for Strasbourg.
At 6ft, the Frenchman is able to slot in anywhere across the backline, though due to him being relatively slim in size, he can be beaten in the air more frequently than other defenders. He is slight in build and is far from a traditional central defender who aims to dominate their opponent using strength, however, Caci is relatively quick off the mark and rarely seems to tire meaning his level of performance remains consistent across the entire 90 minutes. Furthermore, due to his speed off the mark and anticipation he often uses his body well to get between the opposition player and the ball.
Technically, Caci is a very tidy player who often plays simple passes in order to keep possession if there are no better options. However, occasionally when the opportunity presents itself, he is able to play impressive through balls for the forwards using either foot. From centre back he can often be seen playing crisp passes into the striker’s feet. His first touch is consistently impressive, and he is capable of some neat passing interchanges and overlapping runs, especially from wing-back. Once in position to find a cross he normally produces quality whether it be as a cut back to an on running midfield player or a cross onto the stirker’s head.
The defender likes to get tight to his man when they are receiving the ball in order to try and get a foot in and win back possession, however, inevitably as a result he is occasionally caught out as being too tight and as a centre half he could be rolled when the ball is played to feet or pinned by the striker when the ball is in the air. On the other hand, his technique in the tackle was effective more often than not and he frequently won back possession for his team, once he has won possession his close control and confident, tidy passing allows him to retain the ball with ease.
As can be seen above, Caci’s radar as a central defender is not particualrly impressive, with poor aerial stats (to be expected given his build) and the only slight positives appearing from his passing. However, it would be fair to say that having watched Caci, these stats don’t do him justice. The majority of the time that he was playing as a centre half he was playing on the right hand side of a central three, with Kenny Lala as the right wing back. Lala is known for being attacking with an impressive goal and assist return last term, however, these attacking runs left a young defender in his breakout season fairly exposed to both wingers and strikers. As a result, his stats such as ‘dribbled past’ and ‘fouls’ are bound to be inflated, giving a hazy representation of his actual performances.It is also more difficult to judge central defenders on statistics for that exact reason! Having said that, at 22, Caci is still some way from the finished product and must improve on certain aspects of his game should he wish to realise his potential.
In contrast to the central defender radar, Caci’s wing back radar is somewhat more impressive. Rarely being dispossessed, whilst also contributing his fair share of key passes and making a good amount of interceptions, tackles and blocks. Caci is not the most exciting wing back to watch making few attempts to dribble past and beat his opponents and taking few risks , however, he is very reliable and tidy with the ball. For this reason he could be suited to a full back more than a wing back role as then he could support the winger ahead of him whilst also being comfortable playing out from the back and providing good defensive cover.
Whatever Caci lacks in physicality he more than makes up for in his reading of the game and anticipation. For a young player he has an impressive footballing brain which allows him to take up good positions to make interceptions and tackles in advance of the play materialising. His impressive decision making allows him to accurately decide whether to get tight to his man or stand-off him. From wing-back he also does an excellent job at covering for his centre half when he breaks out of the defensive line.
It should also be taken into consideration that during his spells at centre back, he often played the on the right hand side of the three with Kenny Lala (an incredibly attacking wing-back) ahead of him, which meant he was exposed to the wingers and forwards on a more regular basis than other defenders normally are. The young Frenchman also times his forward runs well, rarely getting caught out of position and when he is caught the wrong side of his man he works hard to track back and shows some decent recovery abilities.
Caci is very composed on the ball and in defence and comes across as very calm in every situation. He doesn’t react to other players and gets on with his role consistently and performs well. Yet that is not to say the he is passive as he is aggressive in the tackle and often forces his opponent backwards by not allowing them to turn and hassling them until they either release the ball or lose possession. As mentioned earlier, one of the most impressive parts of his game is footballing brain which gives him a clear idea of what is needed from him in every situation that the game presents.
I enjoyed watching Caci play in several different roles for Strasbourg and for the most part the same qualities shone through of being ever reliable on the ball whilst being able to read the play well in defensive situations. He would be a great option for most teams due to his versatility of being able to play anywhere across the defence whilst also having skills that could easily see him modelled into a defensive midfield player, moreover he is two footed which is a rare quality that he must make the most of. With transfermarkt.com only valuing him at €3 000 000 and having just turned 22 at the beginning of the month, Caci could be a steal for the right club, however, if he were to remain at Strasbourg I am sure that he would develop into a high quality player with consistent game time at a good standard of football.