Q&A Mailbag: April 22
We're back with another Mailbag. This will become a fortnightly feature now, rather than weekly, as we ramp up our Scouted Football Handbook: Volume VI preperations. Don't forget to send in more questions for our team to answer here.
First up, GuarinScreamer asks: what do you think of Bologna's current crop of young players, and who do you think has the highest ceiling?
We're big fans of Bologna – the city, the stadium and, of course, their young players and recruitment processes. Their scouting is nowhere near as scatter-gun as many other Italian sides and that has produced quite a few neat finds: Takehiro Tomiyasu, Andreas Skov Olsen and Nicolás Domínguez. Emanuel Vignato, recently signed from ChievoVerona, is another exciting young player they've picked up. A lot of what they do seems to be well-planned, which can't be said of many other Italian teams currently.
In terms of the highest ceiling, we'd probably say Riccardo Orsolini because he's the one who has been consistently good at Serie A level over the past two seasons. He's dynamic, direct and, if he can replicate this season's form, there's no reason he shouldn't be in Roberto Mancini's Italy squad for the Euros next summer.
MyDyingOpeth92 asks: what do you think of Arsenal's youngsters – Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Saka, Willock, Nketiah, Martinelli?
Everyone will have a slightly different opinion, but, in general, we're rarely too far apart in our analysis of players, and the same goes for this Arsenal group.
A curse of his own versatility and skillset in a sense. Despite his preference to play in midfield, he has the makings of a very good right-back in the modern mould: athleticism, excellent in 1v1 duels, and technique good enough to contribute effectively when moving forward. We profiled him in our most recent handbook, Volume V, so make sure to check that out for even more detailed analysis.
A fluid, functional player whose short-stride and quick-footed dribbling ability makes him effective in tight spaces. He's also pretty quick, albeit not extraordinarily so, meaning he can operate in a more traditional wingers role – something we saw a glimpse of in the FA Cup game against. Mikel Arteta seems to be a huge fan and that bodes well. Nicolas Pépé is an excellent ball-carrier but his reluctance to release the ball is frustrating. Nelson offers a more dependable skillset, one which Arteta can shape into what he wants much easier.
A lot has been said about him – and a lot will continue to be said. A balanced athlete, excellent composure and a brilliant crosser of the ball. Again, Arteta has used him regularly and even engineered the Arsenal shape to maximise his attacking output whilst reducing his defensive responsibility by using Xhaka as a left-sided defender when in position, pushing Saka into an advanced wing role. He's broken plenty of records with his assists this season and it's easy to forget he's a 2001-born product. We think he can have a Premier League future in any position he wants, but his ceiling is highest at left-back where he has time, space, and extraordinary attacking potential. We really, really like him.
A player that divides opinion because of his versatility leading him to be used in a variety of different roles. He offers something that this Arsenal squad lacks, which is mobility over big distances, and it's no surprise both Unai Emery and Arteta made concerted efforts to make use of him. Other aspects of his game need a lot of polishing. Arteta has a reputation as an excellent one-to-one coach, so maybe he can build on Willock's strengths and mitigate his weaknesses.
A natural goal-scorer with excellent movement, awareness and timing of his runs which leads to the 'right place, right time' phrase appearing frequently when discussing his ability. Since being played in Lacazette's role, it's clear improvements can be made with his back to goal, but that will develop with his physical and technical development. He knows what he should be doing and that is obvious in how he plays and what he tries to do. Consistent execution will come with consistent minutues, and he's getting the latter.
A shot of adrenaline every time he features for Arsenal. His tenacity and finishing technique makes him easily comparable to classic South American forwards. Although he appears to be frantic at times, running head down with the ball into the box, you get the sense that it's controlled chaos. Luis Suárez is an easy comparison to make in terms of style. His ability to operate in a similar fashion from out wide means that he and Nketiah should both be able to develop without harming each other's progress. The prospect of Nelson and Martinelli either side of Nketiah, with Saka also becoming an auxiliary winger, is more than decent – especially given Martinelli and Saka's early synergy.
Peter Andrew asks: What's your opinion on Darwin Núñez?
He's a player we first watched at last summer's U-20 World Cup; he was the big, distinctive cetre-forward in a talented Uruguay team. We've followed him closely since that tournament and have really liked what we've seen so far of him with Alméria in the Segunda Liga.
As alluded to above, he catches your eye straight away with his big, long-limbed frame – and he utilises his physique well. His movements are good too, peeling into space and attacking the box well, his link play is quick and functional, and he consistently works himself into good positions. Eight non-penalty goals (12 total) in 20 appearances (17 nineties) represents a solid return in his first European season. His underlying numbers are very encouraging too, ranking him highly in Segunda for shot frequency and quality. He reminds us of Maxi Gómez, another big-bodied striker who left Uruguay for Spain. Núñez will join him in La Liga soon enough.
The clips above give a good snapshot of his skillset: good striker's movement and instincts, under-pinned by a dynamic, rangey athleticism and a Uruguayan mentality. He's good.