Hamidou Makalou

A cutout photo of Guidars' Hamidou Makalou set against a white background
Stephen Ganavas

December 13, 2023

Who is Hamidou Makalou?

Hamidou Makalou’s performances at the 2023 Under-17 World Cup have Europe’s top clubs on high alert.

While he was judged to be the Silver Ball winner by FIFA, as Mali placed third in a tournament they were by far the best team in, everyone who watched the tournament closely could tell you he was by far the best performer.

His and his side’s excellent performances at the World Cup are a further testament to the rapidly developing professional pathways for young footballers in West Africa.

Do not be surprised if Makalou ends up at Red Bull Salzburg when he turns 18 in the summer of 2024. Salzburg are very active in scouting, signing, and providing excellent pathways for players from Mali through their reserve side FC Liefering in the Austrian second division.

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Hamidou Makalou's style of play

It pains me to use this cliche, but in this instance, it rings true: Makalou is a truly prototypical footballer who shows genuine quality in all facets of midfield play.

If you need a midfield disruptor, he has the engine to cover the pitch well, press up high, get stuck into challenges, and win plenty of balls. If you need a creative passer, either from deep or playing into the final third, he has wonderful touch and an excellent eye for runners. If you need a player that can retain the ball in midfield through their press resistance, and then be able to carry or dribble their way forward, he has wonderful close control, body control, and ability to weave his way through defenders. And if you need a box-attacking, goal-scoring midfielder, he is more than capable of making runs into the box, and he can properly strike the ball too.

Obviously, many aspects of this skillset will need to be scaled to senior level over the coming years, but it is a broad foundation from which to build on.

That is exactly what you’re looking for with players in that age bracket: what can they already do, and how can it scale and improve (especially as they develop physically)?

For Makalou, the key technical foundations are already set at a high level, while he already shows great promise as an endurance athlete, running out games strongly in the difficult hot and humid conditions at the World Cup in Indonesia.

The value of a player that can excel across basically any midfield role is limitless if he can adapt to senior football in Europe quickly — and especially physically, given he is quite short.

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If there is a role to be filled in midfield, Hamidou Makalou can fill it. He is all-action, with great technique, a strong creative passing game, and a keen eye for opportunities to get into the box and score.

Hamidou Makalou’s game has no glaring weakness. He is a touch short though, and we will keenly observe how he adapts physically to European football when he makes the move across the Mediterranean.

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