Friday, March 1, 2024

Scouting Report

Abdelmounaim Boutouil

Position: Central Defender
Current Club: Union Saint-Gilloise (Belgium)
DOB: 1 September 1998
Birthplace: Rabat, Morocco
Height: 185 cm (6’1)
Favorite Foot: Left

Statistics

Club (Years)LeagueAppearancesGoals
FAR Rabat (ASFAR) (2016-2020)Botola Pro291
Union Saint-Gilloise (2020-)Belgian Proximus League00
Chabab Mohammédia (Loan) (2020-2021)Botola Pro240
Morocco Under-20Youth National Team81
Morocco Under-23Youth National Team21
MoroccoAfrican Nations Championship60

Player Description

Abdelmounaim Boutouil is a central defender who is continuing his rapid rise in Moroccan football. Boutouil earned regular playing time at a young age for Royal Army club ASFAR, and through his performances at club and youth national team level made the move to Belgian football with Union Saint-Gilloise. The 2020-21 season saw him feature regularly on loan at big spending Botola Pro club Chabab Mohammédia as well as at the African Nations Championship (CHAN), where he started every game as Morocco captured the title.

What sticks out immediately about Boutouil is his strength as well as his confidence at playing the ball with his feet. The muscular defender excels at physical duels in the air or on the ground while possessing the technical ability to succeed in Europe with composed passing whether he is distributing short or long. At this point the departments Boutouil must improve at are dealing with pace and knowing when to try and play himself out of trouble as opposed to simply clearing the ball out.

General Pros and Cons

Pros

+ Composed when in possession of the ball and has very good control on the dribble.

+ Good distribution out of the back. Always keeps his head up and weights his passes well, particularly medium to long range balls.

+ Excels in physical and aerial duels. Directs his clearing headers to ideal areas and teammates.

Cons

– Average to below average acceleration and speed. Does not have the pace to make up ground if attackers get behind him.

– Decision making is still developing. Can be caught in possession because he tries to play the ball out of danger when a simpler approach is safer and more effective.

– Has work to do when picking the right time to be more aggressive in the tackle.

Physical

+ Very good strength. Wins many headers due to engaging his opponents physically before jumping up to win aerial duels. Compact and robust build.

– Below average to average speed. Not favored when sprinting over distance against attackers.

– Average vertical. Needs to be able to use his strength against more athletic forwards or will struggle in winning headers cleanly.

Technical

+ Picks out targets with his distribution whether short or long. Measures distance of his passes well on longer range attempts.

+ Confident dribbler who is unafraid to deal with pressure from attackers approaching him.

+ Smart header of the ball. Calculates aerial duels well and heads the ball to teammates or to ideal spots that reduce the threat of the attacking team.

Mental

+ Has an advanced level at this point for reading the game. Takes up good positions and excels when the ball is in front of him.

+ Displaying signs of becoming a good leader. Earned captaincy during 2020-21 season on loan in Moroccan club football.

Tactical

+ Very good vision on the ball. Directs distribution to safe spots with a target in mind.

+ Good awareness. Takes up good positions and reacts well as a defender compared to defending instinctually as a “stopper”.

– Has trouble trying to decide when to be more aggressive on the tackle. At times will get turned or be too aggressive in the challenge resulting in fouls, particularly when choosing the wrong times to go to ground.

Statistical Analysis

Rankings are from the 2020-21 Morocco Botola Pro season. Includes all central defenders who played a minimum of 595 minutes:

Boutouil’s defensive numbers paint an interesting picture of a defender who still has plenty of development to do in order to reach his full potential. However, there are signs of the intelligence and strength he brings to the pitch:

StatisticTotalRanking
Defensive Duels/904.1844th
Def. Duels Won (%)70.79%15th
Aerial Duels/904.6928th
Aer. Duels Won (%)69%4th
Recoveries/9013.662nd

Boutouil does not dominate on the defensive end by being an aggressive presence who throws himself into challenges, and as seen in one of the videos above, that is not his game. However, his recovery stats and rising efficiency on duels shows that he is getting better at asserting himself when the ball is in front of him and at using his anticipation take up ideal positions.

Where Boutouil stood out in Moroccan football this past season was his passing statistics. Among his central defender peers, Boutouil showed ambition and the ability to execute when passing forward out of the back:

StatisticTotalRanking
Forward Passes/9020.197th
Forward Pass Accuracy (%)77.91%10th
Long Passes/909.254th
Long Pass Acc. (%)62.44%5th
Progressive Passes/9010.475th

While there is confidence to be developed when asserting himself in challenges, Boutouil’s passing numbers are very promising and should only increase as he accumulates more match experience at the club and national team level.

Boutouil’s dribbling compared to other center defenders must be examined as well. In the next table, the center back pool in the Botola Pro was slimmed down to a group of eleven defenders who attempted 0.94 dribbles or more during the 2020-21 season:

Where Boutouil stood out in Moroccan football this past season was his passing statistics. Among his central defender peers, Boutouil showed ambition and the ability to execute when passing forward out of the back:

StatisticTotalRanking
Dribbles/901.175th
Successful Dribbles (%)60%8th
Attacking Duels/902.636th
Att. Duel Success (%)51.79%8th

There are too many moments when Boutouil attempts to do too much with the ball at his feet. The confidence is there to make plays, but he must figure out when best to utilize his skill with the ball to avoid putting his team in trouble with poorly timed giveaways. The video below displays examples of when Boutouil attempted to do too much this season:

Fadera’s final ball lacks consistency and is the area he will need to focus on the most in order to move on to a higher level. A fearlessness to attempt highlight plays and dribbling ability creates plenty of shooting opportunities, but Alieu’s shots noticeably lack technique and zip, particularly on his less favored left foot:

Evaluation: Will need to prove he has the physical capabilities to succeed in Europe this season

Abdelmounaim Boutouil has proven himself in African football through success in Morocco’s Botola Pro and with the national team during their conquest of the African Nations Championship, but there is still plenty he needs to show in order to establish a permanent spot in European club football. Boutouil is clearly more than capable when it comes to his technical ability and his reading of the game will only improve further with more experience. However, whether this will compensate for a lack of pace and general athleticism remains to be seen. His excellent play in the African Nations Championship against some physically imposing sides indicates that he should be capable of making the jump to competing regularly against more pace and physicality if given extended playing time in Europe.

Boutouil has returned to Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium and if he remains there for the 2021-22 season rather than going on loan again, then this campaign will provide a good idea of if he is truly ready for club football at a high level. Union SG earned promotion to the top division Belgian Pro League and the team will need to prove themselves immediately to survive the season in a league that continues to grow in stature. If Boutouil can establish himself as at least a squad player in a team that can stay up in their return to the top division, then the pathway is open for him to either stay in the high exposure environment of Belgian football or move on to another European league. Whether he gets that opportunity remains to be seen but Boutouil has certainly earned his chance to compete for a spot this season.