One to watch: Player Report — Ahmed El Messaoudi.

Thomas Millman
6 min readJul 27, 2019


Age: 23 (03/08/1995)

Nationality: Moroccan (Born in Belgium)

Club: KV Mechelen (Last season on loan at Fortuna Sittard)

Height: 184cm / 6ft

Foot: Right

Position: Central Midfielder (CDM/CM)

El Messaoudi in action for Fortuna Sittard.


The soon to be 24-year-old Ahmed El Messaoudi came to my attention recently in a search for central midfield options for Premier League and Championship sides. Having plied his trade in Belgium all his career, the Moroccan made the leap to the Eredivisie this season where his stats come out well in comparison to other players of a similar position, age and skill level — being named in the Eredivisie team of the week on three occasions last term. His loan move to Fortuna Sittard came about following the relegation of KV Mechelen from the Belgian first division, and he could now be on the look out for a new club, having proved himself further during his time in the Netherlands. In a couple of the games I observed, he played as a box to box midfielder in a 4–3–3 formation for Fortuna Sittard, and as the sole defensive midfield player in a 4–1–4–1 formation for KV Mechelen. He has also been employed as a central defender in the Belgian leagues. Though he is able to play almost any role of a centre midfielder with both his powerful build and presence as well as his impressive technical ability, having observed his style of play he seems best suited to the box to box role as it allows him more freedom to carry the ball forwards and penetrate the opposition defensive lines.


Standing at 6ft and with a stocky build, El Messaoudi has a good physical presence in the centre of the pitch and he is not afraid to use his strength to shrug off opponents. This strength also allows him more time to make decisions when in possession as he is able to hold off opponents whilst assessing his options. Defensively he is hard in the tackle and does not get beaten easily either winning back possession or forcing the opposition to play backwards or sideways. In both attack and defence, the Moroccan shows a surprising initial burst of pace for a man of his stature. However, at times he appeared quite lethargic and could be perceived as quite lazy, but on other occasions he tracked back well if not somewhat inconsistently.


With regards to El Messaoudi’s technical ability, this is one of the areas in which he excels. He was not afraid to receive the ball under pressure and for the most part his first touch was consistently impressive, allowing him time to make the right decision. He rarely tries to force the play and is happy to play short passes to teammates in better positions in order to keep possession, though he also has the ability to play accurate long switches of play. He is very patient on the ball and assesses his options well and his passes are normally firm and accurate. What was particularly admirable was his ability to receive the ball in a tight situation and use his strength and dribbling ability to drive his team up the pitch. Once he starts running with the ball El Messaoudi becomes very difficult to handle and frequently draws fouls and sets up attacks. His decision making in the final third is somewhat inconsistent and leaves room for improvement, with some wayward shots and passes, however, he also set up some good opportunities for teammates and was unlucky not to score against Ajax, showing excellent technique on the volley from 12 yards out, only for it to be saved. On occasion, the midfielder had a tendency to overplay and must improve aerially given his size, but that can be improved and he is also capable of intricate passing in an around the opposition penalty area.


Ahmed El Messaoudi player radar 2018/19 season.

As can be seen above, El Messaoudi excels at dribbling (2.1 successful dribbles/per90) and also provides a fair share of key passes (1.2/per90). He bagged 5 goals from central midfield last term ands was far from shot shy (1.6/per90), playing with more freedom in the box to box role. Defensively, he was rarely beaten (0.9/per90) and finished the season with a tackle percentage of 68.97% which is decent for a central midfield player. Perhaps he could work to improve his pass accuracy if anything but overall his radar seems fairly well rounded with his dribbling being the stand out feature.


El Messaoudi can lack defensive awareness of what is around him, he was sometimes sucked in by an opposition run too easily, leaving space behind him, and if he was more aware on a few occasions he would have been able to take a couple of steps either side of him to be in position to intercept. He has a tendency to overcommit at times, but he also shows that he is able to track runners effectively and make interceptions and he reads the play well more often than not. When possible, he makes an effort to provide an option for his teammates when in possession and this worked well with his ability to receive the ball under pressure, as he can provide an out ball for the team and a means for moving up the pitch. He is not afraid to drop between the centre halves and receive the ball from the goalkeeper. He also checked his shoulders well before receiving the ball which allowed him to take opposition players out of the game with some smart turns. He is constantly aware of any space around him when the ball is played into him which allows him to frequently take touches into space and set himself up to either drive with the ball or pick a pass.


Mentally, the Belgium born midfield player seems to have good confidence when on the ball and communicates well with his teammates. He did not complain when fouled and got up and carried on with game quickly. It would be fairly easy to accuse him of being lazy but like many midfield players he ran well when required and because of his build he is unable to be sprinting at all times. Perhaps an area where he could improve is ensuring that his confidence doesn’t become cockiness and that he is not careless, because on occasion he took one too many unnecessary risks in possession.


Ahmed El Messaoudi impressed me in the games I watched and at a relatively young age he is more than capable of making the leap to a higher standard of football. He should definitely be in the thoughts of some clubs in the top five European leagues with his best years still ahead of him, he would also be a coup for top championship sides with putting his value at only €1 000 000. Moreover, most of the faults in his game, such as defensive awareness, could easily be improved under the right coaching and guidance. As he already possesses the right skill set to be an effective central midfielder who could make an impact on a team that would be willing to show some faith in him.

This is my first attempt at writing and publishing anything like this so I am aware there will be room for improvement. If you have any queries feel free to ask and I would be extremely grateful for any feedback!

Thanks for reading!