Tariq Lamptey: Breaking Down his Breakthrough at Brighton
Joining from Chelsea in January this year, Tariq Lamptey caught the eye in the post-lockdown Premier League. Here, Liam Tharme breaks down the 19-year-old's breakthrough at Brighton and Hove Albion.
Whilst he may be small in stature, standing at little over 5'4", Tariq Lamptey has well and truly burst onto the Premier League scene this season – first at Chelsea, then largely at Brighton and Hove Albion since the COVID–19 restart.
The 19-year-old impressed in a second-half cameo for Chelsea in their comeback at Arsenal, showing signs of an attacking threat by finding advanced positions and even creating a high-quality chance with a defence-splitting pass. It certainly seems plausible that his performance in North London persuaded his current club, Brighton, that they needed to bring his services to England's south coast. They did exactly that on deadline day of the January transfer window, investing £3 million to take the teenager – who was running down his contract – away from Chelsea.
Lamptey’s fearless play against top-level opposition is something he carried with him to Brighton, attempting and completing the most dribbles of any player on the pitch when Graham Potter's team lost at home to Liverpool. Moreover, Lamptey was responsible for assisting Brighton’s only goal; the 19-year-old found a pocket of space in the right-hand channel and, after taking two touches to control the bounce pass from Pascal Groß and set himself to cross, whipped a wicked delivery into the path of Leandro Trossard, with the Belgian duly firing home.
Chance creation may not be a standout feature of the full-backs game yet, as the 1.5 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes he recorded this season only ranks him 10th among Brighton's squad. That, though, may be a case of him performing other actions at such high frequency that they consequently make those creation numbers look small. Lamptey proved on the final day at Burnley that he can be a creative full-back, creating 4 chances in total, 2 of which were defined by Opta as ‘big chances’, the most of any Brighton player on the pitch.
His high volume output was clear from the get-go at Brighton; after his first three matches, Lamptey was averaging a pressure every six minutes, successful dribble every 17 minutes, and a block, interception or foul won every 28 minutes. Having a full-back who can be effective in every phase of the game is crucial for Potter, as his formations have neglected natural wingers. Instead, his teams operate with advanced midfielders who slide more centrally between lines, which consequently requires width to be provided primarily by a full-back. Lamptey’s aforementioned assist for Trossard proved this, as Groß found the Chelsea academy product with a pass from the right-hand half space, with Lamptey alone in the right-hand channel.
Aligning with Potter’s youth-centric philosophy, Lamptey is thrusting himself onto a radar awash with talented English right-backs: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Aaron Wan Bissaka, and many more – the list is almost endless. Like the aforementioned trio, Lamptey has broken into the first team and dislodged an experience alternative, in his case Martín Montoya. The Spaniard accumulated just 184 minutes after the restart, with the teenage incumbent racking up almost 600, featuring in eight and starting seven of the final nine games.
Like most modern full-backs, Lamptey offers his best in attack. His 108 touches in the final third post-lockdown, just two fewer than his total touches in the defensive third, reflects that. Moreover, Lamptey wasted no time in showcasing his speed at Brighton, recording a top speed of 35.9km/h on debut at Leicester City. Unsurprisingly, the debutant ranked as the fastest player on the pitch as he completed the full 90 minutes as part of Brighton’s youngest-ever Premier League side, whom deservedly took a point and clean sheet away from the midlands.
A couple of weeks later against Norwich City, Lamptey clocked a top speed of just under 35km/h, a total which only two Premier League players could trump across the matchday. To imply that Lamptey is reliant on his peed would be a disservice to him, though. His volume in attacking one-v-one situations is not only high, so is his output; attempting 4.6 and completing 3.5 dribbles per 90, his 76% dribble success rate ranks him third in the Brighton side. Ranked against all Premier League players, Lamptey sits within the top 10 for successful dribbles per 90, boasting the best success rate, which is an impressive feat given he shares the company of Adama Traoré, Allan Saint-Maximin, Moussa Djenepo and Emi Buendía.
When Lamptey is not getting past defenders, they’re fouling him. Only Aaron Connolly wins more fouls per 90 than Lamptey, who wins 2.6. Though this may not seem overly desirable or effective, Brighton have excelled from dead ball scenarios, recording 8 goal-creating actions from such situations last season, a total only bettered by Liverpool in the league. The youngster also excels in his reading of the game, topping the charts for interceptions, recording 2.8 per 90; his ability to intercept the ball allows him to exploit opponent’s disjointed defensive shape on counter-attacks, using his speed to scythe through lines and gain yards in transition.
Eyeing the future, Tariq Lamptey seems set for a first full season of senior Premier League football. For his development, he could be in few better places than under Graham Potter at Brighton and Hove Albion. Next season will be Tariq Lamptey’s.
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