Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Scouting Report

Aké Loba

Position: Center Forward
Current Club: CF Monterrey (Mexico)
DOB: 1 April 1998
Birthplace: Divo, Ivory Coast
Height: 180 cm (5’11)
Weight: 78 kg (171 lbs)

Statistics

Club (Years)LeagueAppearancesGoals
SOA (2016-2017)Ligue 1 Côte d'Ivoire257
Universidad San Martín (2017-2020)Peruvian Primera División3218
Querétaro (2019) (Loan)Liga MX369
Monterrey (2020-)Liga MX115
Ivory Coast U-20 (2017)Youth National Team41

Player Description

Aké Loba is a pure striker whose main strengths are dribbling and explosive athleticism in the open field. Fearless on the ball and willing to dribble at multiple defenders. Close to unstoppable when he has room to explode by defenders 1-v-1. Prefers to either drift out wide to run at defenders or turn quickly when receiving the ball with his back to the goal. Good finisher at this point in his career and adequate at scoring with his weaker left foot inside the penalty box.

Loba’s primary weaknesses are his lack of contribution to the team’s buildup play and poor decision-making. Still adjusting to the speed of play at the Liga MX level and very limited passing vision. Severely lacking in aerial ability and little upper body strength to hold off defenders. Decisions and technical ability will continue to be an ongoing project.

General Pros and Cons

Pros

+ Has the athleticism and explosiveness to succeed at the top level. Covers long stretches of ground quickly with the ball.

+ Is an absolute terror to defenders when on the ball in open space. Confident on the dribble and unafraid to engage multiple defenders.

+ Promising finisher at this point in his career with a calmness in the penalty box. Further experience will only add to scoring instincts.

Cons

– Poor upper body strength; unable to adequately hold the ball up or win aerial duels.

– Majority of issues are related to quick career rise and related adjustments to the level of play. Decision-making and tactical versatility will be an ongoing project as Loba continues adjustment to the speed of top levels.

Physical

+ Top-level athleticism. Long strides allow him to pull away from defenders with or without the ball.

+ Excellent agility to elude multiple defenders and navigate tight spaces.

– Really lacking in strength, particularly in the upper body. Not a factor on aerial duels.

Technical

+ Sublime dribbler. Executes feints and stepovers effortlessly and quickly to keep defenders guessing. Capable of surging by multiple defenders on runs and needs little room to gain momentum.

+ Very good finisher at this stage of his career. Can finish with either foot and continues to improve efficiency on opportunities.

– Little to no heading ability. Will need to improve ability in the air to contribute more to team’s buildup.

[minus_sign_fusion_icon] Very limited passer. Lacks vision to create opportunities or pass over distance effectively.

Mental

+ Has a real swagger and confidence that leads to highlight-reel moments.

+ Possesses the necessary confidence in the penalty area of a top-level striker. Stays calm in finishing positions.

– Needs consistent match time to continue development and adjust to speed of play.

Tactical

[minus_sign_fusion_icon] Has plenty of development to do on his decision-making with the ball. Needs to make more of the few touches he receives outside the penalty box.

[minus_sign_fusion_icon] No positional versatility. Has shown little ability to play on the wing or play a role outside of being a pure striker.

[minus_sign_fusion_icon] Dependency on dribbling causes Loba to take the ball into “cul-de-sacs”. Stops team’s attacks short by trying to do too much at times, which can lead to opposition counter-attacks.

+ Always plays with urgency and is getting better and better at playing passes before defenders can collapse on him.

– Can run out of ideas when moving towards the opposition penalty area. Needs to improve quality of final ball, particularly when out wide.

Statistical Analysis

Rankings used are from the 2019-20 and current 2020-21 Liga MX seasons. Players ranked were center forwards who were on the field for a minimum of 400 minutes, with 76 players meeting the criteria from last season and 61 from the current season. Let’s look at how Loba’s dribbling and scoring numbers have evolved since his move to Mexico:

Statistic2019-20 Total2019-20 Ranking2020-21 Total2020-21 Ranking
Goals/90 Minutes0.4323rd0.762nd
Expected Goals/900.3327th0.3422nd
Shots/901.8246th1.3458th
Shots on Target46.67%17th71.43%1st
Goal Conversion Rate23.3311th57.14%1st
Offensive Duels/9012.2118th13.957th
Off. Duel Win %31.34%51st30.14%50th

The statistics show that Loba is making a lot of his time on the pitch at Monterrey, but that his impact is limited to his ability to score and make the most of a short amount of time on the ball. Loba’s skill at finishing is becoming more apparent as he adjusts to the high level of play in Liga MX. The highlight-reel moments and goal conversion numbers suggest he should be starting every match.

The main issue with Loba at this level is a dependency on his dribbling and athleticism to get by defenders. The offensive duel numbers show he is encouraged to run at the defense, but his efficiency still needs improvement and the lack of variety in his play is worrying. What keeps Aké from starting every match is poor aerial ability, inadequate link up play, and the moments when Loba dribbles into cul-de-sacs to end his team’s attacks or start opposition counters:

These moments are when Loba’s flair and inexperienced decision-making can be a detriment to his team. As a forward Aké is currently limited to facing up his opponents and dribbling at them, with little variety in the roles he can play and a poor success rate in the air due to low upper body strength.

However, it is clear that Loba can excel in a pure striker role while developing his deficiencies. The goal rate is impossible to ignore despite the statistical evidence that his technical ability and decision making need improvement. Loba’s standout individual moments in a high-quality league such as Liga MX display the potential:

Evaluation: Destined for a top league, but needs to establish consistency at current level.

Aké Loba certainly has the game and highlight moments to go with his interesting story as an African footballer in the Americas. The Ivorian creates magic on the ball with elite athleticism and improvisation that has led to high goal totals in Peru and now Mexico. Quickly rising to what is perhaps the best league outside of Europe at the age of 22, Loba will have many potential suitors in European football. Aké is easily ready for a level like Ligue 1 or the Primeira Liga in Portugal, but at this point he will likely aspire to teams that are involved in UEFA competition.

At this point I think Loba can have a role for a team at that level, but the necessary consistency and buildup play will need further development. It would be better for Aké to develop in Mexico for another six months and see if he can become a permanent fixture in the starting eleven. The competition and level of play is sufficient with an emphasis on technical football. Whichever path Loba chooses, his contributions in the last few seasons ensure that his trajectory remains on the rise.