Benjamin Tahirovic (AS Roma) – Scout Report

Ajax announced yesterday the signing of 20-year-old midfielder Benjamin Tahirovic. Tahirovic came through the youth ranks in Sweden before joining Roma in the winter of 2021. The Bosnian international started off at the under 18’s and under 19’s at Roma before debuting for the first team in 2022 against Torino. Tahirovic made 13 appearances for Roma. He has also already made three appearances for the Bosnian national team.

Benjamin Tahirovic has a very tall frame standing at 1.93 meters with an average build. Despite having such a tall frame, Tahirovic is agile and mobile. The midfielder is quick on the first meters and has decent speed over longer distances. He wins most ground duels but could develop his physique slightly more to be more dominant in ground duels without decreasing his agility and mobility. The midfielder shields the ball well under pressure. Tahirovic is good in aerial duels but occasionally misjudges the ball as tends to jump under the ball sometimes.

Tahirovic has very good movement in both first- and second-phase possession, positioning himself well between the lines and receiving in space. The midfielder is constantly scanning the pitch, assessing where the space is. Tahirovic drops deep to operate as one of the central defenders, plays as one of the two central midfielders or he moves out wide to receive the ball near the touchline.

On the ball, he tends to mostly go for the safe option sideways or backwards. Tahirovic generally is a passive player in possession. His short passing is solid, even though he sporadically does not put enough power on his passes. Tahirovic’s long passing technique is quite good, but he does not play that many long passes.

The midfielder generally keeps his composure under pressure. He has a solid first touch on his right foot and does well to scan before receiving, allowing him to turn the right way under pressure. However, Tahirovic does not quite like to use his left foot which sometimes hinders him under pressure. He needs an extra touch to take the ball to his right foot, even though he does not have that time in the Serie A.

Defensively, Benjamin Tahirovic has excellent positioning. He picks up many second balls, does well to not get dragged out of position when the opponent have settled possession on Roma’s half and closes gaps out wide well when needed. The midfielder potentially can make up for slight positional errors with his good speed on the first meters, but also with his well-timed (and strong) tackles. Tahirovic does well to cut passing lanes in transition from attacking to defending. He has shown great stamina and endurance in the minutes he played for Roma. Tahirovic is capable of covering a lot of ground.

The Bosnian youngster, in defensive 1v1 duels in central areas, almost always manages to keep his opponent in front of him. Especially in this area, it is important to not get dribbled past often. Tahirovic generally recovers possession a lot throughout a game. The midfielder displays excellent maturity defensively, seemingly understanding his defensive tasks perfectly.

In conclusion, Benjamin Tahirovic is a very smart and mature defensive midfielder for his age. He adds defensive stability in midfield to Ajax. Tahirovic has excellent defensive positioning, keeps his opponents in front of him and looks very determined and focused for the entire 90 minutes, which is exactly the mindset that Ajax needs.

The Bosnian midfielder needs time to develop his on-the-ball ability to become a better ball progressor, but his good positioning, scanning behaviour and solid technique are tools that could mould him into a good ball progressor. However, with the presence of Branco van den Boomen, Jurriën Timber and Jorrel Hato on the pitch, Tahirovic does not necessarily need to be a good ball-progressor.

I am not sure if Benjamin Tahirovic is seen as Edson Álvarez’s replacement (from an Ajax point of view), but I would be quite happy with Tahirovic as Álvarez’s replacement even though he has to develop his on-the-ball ability. He offers a lot of defensive stability and seemingly has an incredible mindset. This is what Ajax needs in defensive midfield, as there are plenty of other players in Ajax’s current squad who are good ball progressors. Especially in this transitional year, I’d be happy giving Tahirovic the time to develop.

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