Abbosbek Fayzullaev is a 19-year-old Uzbek attacking midfielder who plays for Pakhtakor Tashkent in the Uzbek Superliga. He broke through as a regular in the 2022 season. He made an instant impact with 5 goals and 2 assists in just under 1000 minutes. Earlier this year he was the crown jewel of an Uzbekistan U-20 team that went on a Cinderella run to win the AFC U-20 Championship. I believe he has the ability to reach a much higher level than the Uzbek super league.
The first thing that stands out about Fayzullaev is his technical ability. He has a strong first touch and is a very dynamic dribbler. He wins a huge amount of fouls. This is partly a testament to his shiftiness and dribbling skill but it is also partly to do with his small frame. There are times when Fayzullaev is knocked over by a foul when a stronger player might just power through and blow past the defender. This might seem like a minor criticism but it happens enough that I am convinced it limits his contributions in the final 3rd.
That one drawback aside though, Fayzullaev has the skill to make things happen. His delivery and crosses, set pieces, and diagonal balls are extremely impressive. He can deliver the ball with a lot of power, swerve, and accuracy. But he can also cause damage in transition moments. Fayzullaev is a fast runner with the ball and he makes quick, correct decisions when rushing towards the opponent’s goal.
Fayzullaev also shoots quite a lot. At the AFC-U20 Championship, he was deployed in a wider role which saw him cut inside from the left and let fly from the corner of the box. But at the club level, it is more common for him to play centrally and that leads to more shots from the high-danger areas of the penalty area. He is still very willing to hit a speculative shot from range but when looking at his shot maps from the AFC U-20 and the Uzbek League you can see a striking difference (no pun intended).
This might suggest that he is better utilised through the middle but in a wider position, he has more opportunities to make the most of his crossing. So he presents an interesting dilemma for coaches.
When you hear that Fayzullaev is a slight and technically sound winger, you might assume that he offers a little defensively. But that could not be further from the truth. Fayzullaev works extremely hard and can generate offence from the press.
You may be wondering just how meaningful achievements in the Uzbek league are. But Uzbekistan’s domestic league, while far from the apex of world football, is a lot stronger than you would think. The AFC Club Competitions Ranking, which ranks Asian leagues based on past performance in continental competition, puts the Superliga in 6th. So it’s behind the usual suspects (Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc.) but ahead of regional powers like Australia, China, and Thailand.
Overall, I think Fayzullaev has the potential to reach the top-5 leagues. He could certainly stand some physical development but other than that the skills are all there. A lot of top Uzbek players make the move to Russia, particularly lately as sanctions have forced Russian clubs to look to more obscure nations (from a football point of view) to sign players from. I would prefer he not go there, as those same sanctions might make it hard for him to leave for bigger things. In the meantime, I think a good stepping stone would be a move to a mid-tier European country like Poland or the Czech Republic. Something that can get him a foothold in Europe, maybe allow him to play in continental competitions, and showcase his talents to big clubs.