PROFILING HIS BEST ATTRIBUTES ASSESSING HIS FUTURE ANALYSING HIS STATS LEARNING ABOUT HIS STORY SO FAR
Who is Amine Gouiri?
Heralded as the centre-piece of the exciting 2000-born class pushing through Olympique Lyonnais’ famed youth academy, making the bench for a league game aged 16, and drawing comparisons to Karim Benzema before he had even made his competitive debut; the footballing world has known of Amine Gouiri for a while now.
The prodigious Frenchman’s exploits on the international stage in 2017 did little to subdue the hype. After finding the back of the net nine times to claim top scorer at the Under-17 European Championships, another five goals at the Under-17 World Cup later that year saw Gouiri become France under-17’s all-time top scorer with a remarkable total of 20 goals in 15 caps.
A senior OL debut soon followed, with nine further first-team outings in 2017/18 positioning the academy prospect for far more involvement ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. Alas, a cruciate ligament rupture ruled Gouiri out of first-team action for the entirety of the new season. This misfortune continued as his return to fitness in 2019/20 coincided with an awkward period for OL, in terms of the club’s direction and on-pitch performance.
Ultimately, with opportunities hard to come by, the boy from Bourgoin-Jallieu was allowed to leave in search of first-team football this past summer. He eventually joined OGC Nice, having amassed just 292 senior minutes for his boyhood club.
Since making the move to Les Aiglons, however, the 20-year-old has not looked back. Kicking off with a magnificent brace to secure victory over RC Lens on his debut, Gouiri has continued to breathe life into an otherwise uninspired Nice side.
With 14 goal contributions in 27 appearances – a couple more than the combined total of the club’s next two highest goal contributors this season – Gouiri is quickly making up for lost time and emerging as one of the most game-changing young forwards in Europe.
Amine Gouiri Style of Play
Gouiri is a technically rounded striker who excels at utilising a cultured on-ball game to tie together offensive moves – or manufacture chances for himself – at the heart of his team’s attack.
While not as physically imposing nor boasting the rapid straight-line speed of some similarly talented forwards in his age group, he has cat-like agility and balance which blends superbly with his technical skillset, making him an elusive player to defend. The deftness and consistency of Gouiri’s first touch is striking; he rarely needs more than that to bring the ball under his control.
Such sharp technique is matched by an equally sharp mind; the repeated decisiveness and efficiency of his actions in possession has the hallmarks of a player who knows what he wants to do with the ball well before it arrives to him. His close control and swift operating speed paint the picture of a capable dribbler who is at his most threatening when receiving in tight spaces in the penalty area, such is his ability to affect play before his marker can react.
Not that keeping Nice’s new star further from goal does much to quell his influence. It is deeper where the other standout attribute of Gouiri’s game comes to the fore: his exceptional link play. Comfortable dropping into midfield to stretch the pitch with pinpoint passes out wide, combining for one-twos in the hole or playing incisive through balls into the box, Gouiri is gifted with passing prowess that must be the envy of many.
Combined with proficiency one-on-one, the Frenchman’s creativity reflects well in the data: at just under 3.5 shot-creating actions per 90, Gouiri ranks in the 89th percentile of forwards across Europe’s top-five leagues. Meanwhile, only two under-23 players have made more passes into the penalty area than Gouiri in Ligue 1 this season.
For all his competency at knitting together attacks, Gouiri’s hold-up play with his back to goal is a notable deficiency in his game. In addition to a habit of receiving too square, his slight frame and reluctance to assert himself in duels typically ends with him being bullied into recycling back into midfield when passed to, or being drowned out in central areas altogether.
Despite some difficulty adapting to the increased demands of being an attacking focal point, Gouiri has taken seamlessly to playing off a ‘big man’ striker from the left, having operated as a wide forward with much success this season.
This role accentuates his strengths, with Gouiri in his element gliding across the face of the box, probing for someone to slide through on goal. It also allows him to receive inside the edges of penalty area more frequently, where he is adept at firing off passes or quickly getting the ball out of his feet to shoot himself.
His shooting could do with working on: developing a more consistent striking technique, specifically for one-touch finishes. While Gouiri’s shot placement is fantastic when allowed a couple touches to set himself, this coolness evaporates in scenarios requiring him to take the shot first time. Too often these attempts are struck too centrally and without much conviction.
A final issue raising some doubt over Gouiri’s ability to translate his goalscoring prolificacy at youth level to senior football is his lack of penetrative off-ball movement beyond lines and in attacking transitions.
Some blame can be attributed to the stagnancy of Nice’s attack, but Gouiri has failed on numerous occasions to take up threatening positions, make intelligent timed runs behind the defensive line, or serve as an effective outlet on the counter.
Forecasting Amine Gouiri's Future Prospects
Now established as the star man of a Ligue 1 club competing in Europe – in only his first full season of professional football – Amine Gouiri’s future is bright. Furthermore, his well-rounded game matches the profile increasingly sought after by possession-based coaches, making the striker even more attractive for top sides.
But there is always room for improvement. At 5′11, there is scope for Gouiri to mature into a more physical presence. There is reason to believe his one-touch finishing is unrefined rather than a long-term issue. Ultimately, his sub-elite off-ball movement stands as the major obstacle to him becoming a world class striker.
For now though, Nice provides an ideal home for Gouiri to hone his talents over the next year or two. All going well, the next step will be a move to a Champions League club.
The OL academy graduate practically has his ticket stamped for this level; whether he can make the jump from Europe’s pretenders to its truly elite depends on how reliably he can get on the end of attacking moves and, in turn, his name on the scoresheet.
Amine Gouiri is a technically rounded striker who excels at utilising a cultured on-ball game to tie together offensive moves – or manufacture chances for himself – at the heart of his team’s attack.
Gouiri can be hesitant to take up advanced positions in order to get into better positions to score.