Ibrahim Sangaré – Player Report

This article was originally published in August 2019 here.


If you follow me on Twitter then hopefully you’ll know who Sangaré is already. He’s one of my favourite players and was hoping to see him move to a bigger club this summer, ideally in the Premier League. The Ivorian midfielder currently plays for Toulouse in Ligue 1 who finished 16th in the league last season and although bigger clubs have shown interest, he’s stayed in Toulouse.

Sangaré is a very impressive player statistically and stands out straight away. He’s an exciting player to watch and aged just 21 he could be a great buy. I suggested him as an Ndombele alternative when I wasn’t sure Spurs would be able to get him. And available for about £30m, he would be a great depth option for Spurs and an understudy to Ndombele.

Even though he hasn’t moved this window, I definitely expect him to within the next year. Until then, he can continue to develop in a young Toulouse side who are producing good young talent such as Todibo who moved to Barcelona in January.

Sangaré stands at 6’3″ and is an imposing figure. He has a slim build, is lean and has very long legs. He is strong in challenges and in possession, using his size and length really well. He is able to get between the opposition and the ball well, using his legs to reach across the opposition player. Along with his height and strength comes decent aerial ability in midfield. He wins 51% of his headers, which could be better, and is only involved in 2.8 aerial duels per 90.

He has decent pace with long strides but nothing special, with a good burst of speed over a few yards when he wants to. But for a big man he moves well overall. He has good footwork and agility to change direction and evade pressure, and can turn explosively.

The midfielder covers a lot of ground but with mixed intensity. At times his tracking back could have been quicker, but other times he’ll make a recovery run at top speed. When his team was in possession, he worked hard to get into good positions in buildup and be accessible to his teammates where he regularly creates triangles and angles. In their opening game vs Brest, he was often man marked by his opposite midfielder, but was still effective by working hard for his position and playing with few touches.

Toulouse mainly play a 4231 where Sangaré playing in a double pivot and gets up and down the pitch really well. He can support attacks with runs into the box and final third passing. But he can also play as a distributor ahead of the back four with good passing. He has a good but at times consistent first touch. Sometimes it could have been cleaner, but another time he’ll bring down a high ball really well. He takes the ball on the turn really well and smoothly, able to receive cleanly and spark attacks. He checks his shoulders before receiving the ball and often showed good awareness with his passing.

The Ivorian international has excellent passing capabilites. He produces some of the best progressive passing numbers in Europe, especially among players as young as he is, as you can see from his passing profile above and the graphic below where you can see him at about halfway up on the far right. His short passing is clean and accurate, and he can use both feet as well as complete passes in tight spaces. His weighting could be better at times and better judged just to make it easier for teammates, even if they weren’t sold short.

He has a good passing range and likes to hit diagonals to wingers in wide positions in the opposition line. Last season, Sangaré attmpted 7.6 long passes per 90 with an impressive 56% completion rate. He has good vision and is calm on the ball, quickly scanning before making his decision. The midfielder doesn’t panic and is composed on the ball under pressure. He is good at finding players in space, progressing the ball and seeing runs to put players in behind the opposition defence, attempting 2.1 through passes per 90.

You can also see below how effective he is at carrying the ball. He is a strong dribbler, attempting 3.3 per 90 at a 59% success rate. He is a strong runner who is able to hold off defenders and uses both feet to control the ball. He uses feints really well to create space for himself and throw off defenders on the ball or when running for a loose ball.

He likes to drive into space and can shift the ball around well. He can vary the tempo of the game. The midfielder has good, quick decision making ability. He likes to shift the ball quickly and play with few touches, often with one touch wall passes and layoffs in buildup. But, will also take his time if needed to retain possession most of the time.

At times I felt he could be lazy and force poor short passes that went straight to the opposition, possibly due to a lack of concentration. Although he breaks up play really well and makes a lot of tackles and ball recoveries, occasionally he could be slow to react to play, such as a teammate losing possession in midfield and taking a while to react and track back. He was brave and went into challenges strongly, winning a solid 64% of defensive duels.

Conclusion

Sangaré is one of my favourite prospects. He’s an exciting player to watch with his strong ball progression through range of passing, creativity and strong drives through midfield. At just 21 years old, he has a bright future at a big club.

He has some areas to improve, such as keeping consistency in his simple passing and not losing concentration. He can lose to ball a bit too much, as seen with his 82% passing accuracy and poor 88% accuracy on back passes. But is still a developing player in a poor team and I can’t wait to see him make the step up.

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