Player Report – Jakub Moder

Arguably one of the biggest Polish talents, Jakub Moder recently made a big move to Brighton & Hove Albion. The price tag of around £10 million was the highest transfer fee a Polish club has ever received. Born in 1999, Moder played for Fortuna Wielen as a youngster, before moving to Warta Poznan briefly, then Lech Poznan in 2016. He was loaned out to I Liga side Odra Opole for the 2018-19 season. He then impressed for Lech in 2019/20 where he scored 5 league goals in 25 appearances. Moder was loaned back to Lech from Brighton, where he has recorded 4 goals and 2 assists in 13 appearances in the Ekstraklasa. He has also made 6 appearances for the Poland national team, scoring once.

Returning to Brighton in January after Lech’s Europa League exit, there is a strong possibility of Moder playing first team football, as Brighton do struggle with quality midfield depth. In the following paragraphs I will talk about Moder’s strengths and weaknesses, and give my overall thoughts on him, as well as his future prospects within the game.

*Small note that all statistical data provided will be from Wyscout, using data up to gameweek 11 of the 2020/21 Ekstraklasa season. All comparative graphs will be against other U24 players in the Ekstraklasa that have played upwards of 300 minutes.

Player profile

  • Nationality: Polish
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 07/04/1999
  • Current Club: Brighton and Hove Albion
  • Career: Lech Poznan, Odra Opole (L), Brighton and Hove Albion, Lech Poznan (L)
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Physical

Positives – Standing at 6’3″ inches, Moder is a physically imposing presence on the pitch. He is of medium build, but possesses good strength in 1v1 situations, in many cases he is able to ease opposition players off the ball and retain/regain possession. His pace is average, but he possesses good short bursts of acceleration. Coupled with this he has very long strides, allowing him to burst into pockets with relative ease. His height then of course does give him major advantages in the air, and although his jumping isn’t the greatest he has more than enough height to win most aerial balls when needed. Moder competes on average in 4.7 aerial duels per 90, with a 63.6% success rate, showing that although he competes in an average amount of duels per game, he is successful in most of these actions.

Negatives – His stamina is average. He can easily last a whole game, but his work rate does let him down in places and towards the end of games he does look ragged tracking back to defend. He also struggles tracking back due to his low agility, and he does look quite slow when turning to defend. This is understandable because of his height however.

Technical

Positives – Moder has two outstanding technical qualities to focus on in particular – his passing ability and his shooting from range. He loves to make long, raking passes to either wing, either at wingers getting in behind or to overlapping full-backs. He demonstrates an exceptional range of passing in most situations, and he also knows when to keep the ball on the floor and play simple passes. One thing that he always looks to do is progress the ball whenever possible. As demonstrated by the graph below, he has a high amount of progressive passes compared to other U24 players in the league, whilst also maintaining a good level of accurate pass %.

fig.1 Progressive passes per 90 and accurate pass % Ekstraklasa 20/21 (U24 players)

Moder is also capable of playing the ball with both feet, looking at ease playing long and short balls with his weaker left foot. His touches on both feet are mainly aimed at being as progressive as possible, whilst still retaining possession. He does sometimes get himself in some tricky situations, but can be seen using good close control to dribble past defenders, and although not the most technical of dribblers out there he uses his physical presence very effectively to compensate for this.

Switching focus onto shooting, which as I mentioned before was another major positive in Moder’s game, it is first important to look at where he takes his shots from. Below is a typical example of where he takes the majority of his shots from. When Poznan are in advanced attacking positions, he looks to be around the edge of the box, and almost always he looks to whip the ball into the far corner, and can do so with either left or right foot to a good standard, and although he only gets 30% of shots on target, throughout my time watching him he has never missed the target by a large margin.

Fig.2 Moder shooting position (No.15)

This season Moder has recorded 4 goals, which is impressive considering he has lined up as a deep lying midfielder for most of the games. He also has 2 assists, which takes him to a 26% goal participation within the Lech Poznan team, which shows just how talismanic he has been for them this season.

Negatives – On average this season he has attempted 5.12 dribbles per 90, with a 39.6% success rate. This success rate is lower than average, and from watching him sometimes he does get too ambitious with his dribbling. Coupled with this, his agility with the ball at his feet is not good, and in tight spaces he can often be dispossessed. When he does lose the ball, it is not often in a dangerous area as he generally attempts his dribbles in advanced areas of the pitch. Due

In terms of his shooting, which is often on the edge of the box, he needs to take more time to think about options, and play with his head up. Instead he often looks to shoot whenever possible, rather than retaining possession or looking for a pass that may play a teammate in, for example.

Tactical

Before discussing Moder’s capabilities at Brighton, it is important to look at his tactical play for Lech Poznan this season. In the picture below this paragraph is a typical starting lineup for Lech, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. When defending, typically in a low to mid block, Lech were in this formation. Moder played in a double pivot with Pedro Tiba, however Moder was often the one to play more forward, and was generally on the ball whether in deeper or more advanced positions more than Tiba. This meant that Tiba was left with the majority of defensive work, and although Moder does come back to defend, most of his defensive actions came in transitions or when defending a counter attack.

Fig.3 Lech Poznan starting line up

When Lech were on the ball however, they cycled through a couple of different formations. As well as using the 4-2-3-1, they looked to push the full backs up as much as possible, changing into a 3-4-3, with one of Tiba and Moder dropping between defenders. Lech look to play out from the back as much as possible, and in early build up Moder often looks to drop between defenders and collect the ball, as seen below. He will then look to pass, often to the wings, where he then pivots with Tiba, allowing Moder freedom to push up the pitch into a more advanced area.

Fig.4 Moder dropping between defenders to collect ball

The above Picture shows Lech in early build up, where Moder is looking to progress the ball further up the pitch with a long ball. Below is an example of Lech further into their build up, with Moder looking to play a similar pass, albeit in a more advanced position. Lech forcing an overload down the wings provides Moder with good opportunities to play these passes throughout games in the Ekstraklasa this season. With his return to Brighton imminent, this style of play will be complementary to Graham Potter’s style of play.

Fig.5 Moder looking to pass wide

With Brighton looking to progress wing-backs as much as possible, Moder’s style of long balls to either wing will suit Brighton very well. The Premier League side have a similar attacking style to Lech, also operating with a double pivot, and looking to stretch the play as wide as possible, similar to Moder’s role that he occupied at Lech. I will discuss Moder and Brighton further on in the article, but in essence his tactical style at Lech suits Brighton.

Psychological

One benefit of being able to watch games behind closed doors is that you are able to hear players talk. I can’t say I have any knowledge of Polish, but it was clear that although still very young, Moder was one of the more vocal Lech players. His organisational play within a double pivot was generally sound, as was his communication with defenders. He isn’t overly aggressive, but is still strong in the tackle and isn’t afraid to be strong in a 50/50. Effectively, he has the necessary physical attributes and mindset to play Premier League football, which is always a concern for young players coming in from foreign leagues. He plays with good confidence, not afraid to play risky passes or take risky shots, which is great to have for someone so young. I would say that Moder doesn’t really have any psychological flaws from watching him on the pitch, and it would be interesting to learn more about him in a more in depth interview, perhaps Brighton can provide one in the future.

The future

At the time of writing this article, Moder has just been recalled by Brighton. This was always likely to happen, with the only stipulation being whether Poznan would progress in the Europa League, which hasn’t happened. Coupled with this, recent transfer rumours surrounding Yves Bissouma (who plays in a role that Moder would play Brighton) would have made Graham Potter more than eager to get Moder into his plans as soon as possible. Steven Alzate has often been seen playing double pivot with Bissouma this season, and I believe that Jakub Moder is a better all-round player than Alzate, and, especially if Bissouma leaves, I would expect Moder to get regular minutes within the Brighton first XI.

Moder also broke into the Polish national team this year, making 6 appearances since August. Hopefully he continues to be a regular in the side, or at least on the bench, and gain valuable experience on the international stage. In terms of a future beyond Brighton, it is hard to say. This will be a question much easier to ask at the end of this season.

Before the transfer to Brighton happened, I thought that a move to Italy would suit him, similar to many Polish players, including Karol Linetty, who also played a similar role within the Lech Poznan team before moving to Sampdoria in 2016. If Moder can prove himself at Brighton, he may have the potential to make another step up, and I would say he could suit Manchester United who are one of the teams interested in Bissouma. With the amount of teams playing attacking full-backs nowadays, he would suit most teams in the Premier League. He certainly has a very interesting future ahead of him.

Conclusion

Out of the many games of Polish football I have watched this season, Jakub Moder has been the one to stand out the most. His range of passing has definitely surpassed Ekstraklasa levels, and the recall from Brighton was a good choice as I believe he is ready for the step up to a top five league. Being the most expensive Polish player sold in the Ekstraklasa, he does have some pressure on him to succeed, but I believe he has the ability to do so. Improving defensively would perhaps be his main area to improve upon, as his awareness is sometimes lacking in places, and he needs to work harder tracking back, but at only 21 years of age he has ample amounts of time to improve, although now at Premier League level he needs to step up quickly.

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