Sunday, May 19, 2024

Scouting Report

Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane

Position: Central Midfield
Current Club: Espérance ST (Tunisia)
DOB: 6 September 1999
Birthplace: Tunis, Tunisia
Height: 186 cm (6’1)
Weight: 80 kg (176 lbs)

Statistics

Club (Years)LeagueAppearancesGoals
Espérance ST (2017-)Ligue Professionnelle 1 Tunisia586
TunisiaSenior National Team120

Player Description

Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane is a technical and efficient central midfielder who continues to build his reputation as one of Africa’s best young players. The 22-year-old is an important player for one of Africa’s top clubs, Tunisia’s Espérance, and his role in the Tunisia national team is growing as the 2022 FIFA World Cup approaches. Ben Romdhane is confident on the ball when operating in tight spaces and has very good technique when striking shots from long distance or on set pieces.

While Ben Romdhane is excelling in Tunisia’s Ligue 1 Professionnelle and in the CAF Champions League, there remain questions about how he will handle the increased speed of play at a higher level. His play with the Tunisia national team has shown that more athletic opponents can give him trouble with his defensive weaknesses more exposed, including a lack of tackling awareness and technique. Another issue with Ben Romdhane is the fact that his skill set makes him an in-between player in the center of midfield: not creative enough to excel as an advanced playmaker and needs a more defensive minded partner when lying deeper.

General Pros and Cons

Pros

+ Very difficult to dispossess when on the ball. Escapes traffic with smooth control and elusive moves.

+ Remarkably efficient on his passing. Rarely gives the ball away and maintains a high completion rate.

+ Is sharp when playing quickly. Moves the ball promptly to open targets and switches play well with good long range passing.

+ Continues to improve his finishing in the penalty area and possesses very good technique on long range efforts. Can shoot with power or curl the ball well when shooting from distance.

Cons

– Can struggle with higher pace against more athletic teams. Will need some time to adjust at a higher level.

– Poor tackling technique and lacks patience when attempting to win the ball. Goes to ground far too quickly.

– Lacks the ability to consistently make defense splitting passes even when given time moving forward. Limited when designated as the advanced playmaker.

Physical

+ Accelerates well for a player of his size when on the dribble, allowing him to burst into open space and past defenders over short distances.

– Average to below average strength at his current level. Can get overpowered by more physical midfielders when isolated one-on-one.

– Poor ability to win headers despite size. Limited vertical leap on aerial duels.

Technical

+ Very good first touch and smooth with the ball at his feet. Difficult to dispossess when on the dribble and excels when operating in traffic.

+ Shows good composure when finishing inside the penalty area. Offers elevated shooting ability from outside the box and on set pieces with the skillset to strike with power or curl his efforts with precision.

– Poor tackler. Awkward tackling attempts, particularly on sliding tackles, lead to unnecessary fouls and attacking set piece opportunities for opposition.

– Lacks consistency when attempting final balls to provide shooting opportunities for attackers. Needs to improve playmaking in the final third.

Mental

+ Very good composure and remains calm on the ball. Displays a high level of confidence when executing duties as a central midfielder.

– Needs to be more patient, especially on the defensive end. Commits too many unnecessary fouls and tackling decisions can be bewildering at times.

Tactical

+ Excellent efficiency on his passing in the midfield. Rarely gives the ball away and maintains a high completion rate on short and long passes in the middle third.

+ At his best when getting the ball off his feet quickly to play within one or two touches after receiving a pass. Always keeps his head up to look for opportunities to play in attacking full backs or switch the field of play.

+ Outstanding option as a link between defense and attack with his dribbling ability and efficiency when moving the ball forward through the middle third.

– Limited to operating as a #8 in the center of midfield. Requires a defensive minded partner to cover for his defensive liabilities and lacks the vision and creativity in the final third required of an advanced playmaking #10.

Statistical Analysis

Due to a lack of available statistics, we decided to compare Ben Romdhane to his frequent central midfield partner at Espérance and on the Tunisia national team, Ghailene Chaalali. The two played together for the majority of EST’s ongoing 2021-22 CAF Champions League campaign. While Chaalali handles more defensive responsibilities, he is more of a two-way central midfielder and this comparison is meant to show where Ben Romdhane excels and needs improvement compared to a higher level central midfielder in African football:

StatisticBen RomdhaneChaalali
Pass Accuracy86.6%83.1%
Pass Acc. to Final Third81.4%68.8%
Forward Pass. Acc.75.8%72.2%
Pass Acc. to Penalty Area46.2%45.8%
Progressive Runs/Game1.871.28
Aerial Duels Won (%)42.9%60.7%
Defensive Duels Won50%61.1%
Interceptions/Game2.274.6

Ben Romdhane noticeably comes up short in areas that require more physicality, such as defensive and aerial duels won compared to Chaalali. His deficiency in interceptions/per game can be attributed to playing higher up the pitch but still highlights how often he can take himself out of the play by making ill-advised challenges and lacking the anticipation required of a more defensive minded midfielder.

His slight edge in passing efficiency is enhanced when considering that he plays in a more attacking role than Chaalali and his forward passing rate highlights that he is one of the best in African club football when moving the ball forward. However, he comes up short when attempting to make decisive passes as shown in the video below:

Ben Romdhane succeeds best when moving the ball forward and acting as a link between defense and attack, especially in transition. Check out the video below to see how the 22-year-old does when operating in tight spaces in the midfield and how he can either win fouls or quickly shift Espérance into forward attacking thrusts:

Evaluation: Currently has the quality for a mid-level to bottom half Ligue 1 side.

Ben Romdhane is currently one of the best technical players competing in the CAF Champions League with his skillset, intelligence and instincts at a high enough level for European football. His ability to play the ball quickly along with a high passing efficiency rate will only improve as he gains experience at higher levels and shows promise for his capability of succeeding in a major European league. Furthermore, he offers the ability to score goals from the central midfield position thanks to his clean ball-striking and long range shooting.

At this point it appears that Ben Romdhane is a bit limited when it comes to his positional versatility due to lacking the defensive patience and tackling ability of a deeper lying midfielder while not being efficient enough when moving forward in a playmaking role. His skill on the dribble and at moving the ball forward is valuable but coaches at a higher level will have to adapt their formations to protect his defensive liabilities and lack of consistency in advanced positions. Therefore, due to a need to improve at levels of play with higher athleticism and his positional limitations, Ben Romdhane’s projection for success in European football is limited to clubs that can support his weaknesses at this point.