It's time to pay attention to Krepin Diatta
Krepin Diatta is a smarterscout young prospect on the rise. In February 2017, he left Oslo Football Academy in Dakar for Sarpsborg at a cost of just €50k. Less than a year later, he went to Club Brugge for €2m. In March 2019, shortly after turning 20, he made his debut for Senegal's national team. He's been part of every match since.
Actually, forget "on the rise" – Diatta is on a rocket. And the evolution of his playing style merits comparisons to some of European football's biggest young stars.
Playing mostly RM last season, Diatta already had numbers that would stack up well even in the Premier League:
His attacking output was already average, and he was an excellent finisher. His defending was outstanding, including his tackling. He showed good skill in every kind of duel. The only area for improvement was his ball retention, mainly a result of his aggressive passing style. Here's how his touches looked:
Diatta was one of those dangerous wide players who, when nearing the end line, could either cross against a defender who stepped off or dribble past a defender who got in too close. He tried to make incisive passes from the edge of the final third, too, not unlike Kevin de Bruyne. And he also liked a shot near the corner of the box. His overall style was very similar to Carlos Soler's at Valencia.
Yet for all his skill as a wide midfielder, this season Diatta has played more as an out-and-out winger, and he's been getting into the box much more often. Here's how his styles at RM and RW compared last season, and how he looks this season:
The change in style is huge so far, and Diatta's increasing propensity to receive balls in the box has altered his shot map, too. Here's a comparison of his shots at RM last season and at RW this season:
All of those wild shots from outside the box have disappeared, making Diatta a much greater threat overall. As a RW, Diatta has been involved in about two thirds of Club Brugge's goals, compared with around half at RM. And there aren't many wingers in Europe who've had such an enormous presence in the box as Diatta:
Diatta doesn't link up as much as Gnabry or Mbappe, and his ball retention is lower. But in the scarce data from this season, his attacking output is at a similar level, and he's almost as good in ground duels in possession. Diatta is also a more prolific defender and far superior in the air.
Overall, Diatta now has the profile of a player who's ready to make an impact in Europe's top five leagues – and he's still only 21 years old. Where will his rocket-like rise take him next?
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