Sheffield United announced the loan signing of Yasser Larouci from Troyes, and the club have an option to buy the attacking left-back come the end of the season.
Originally from the Liverpool academy, Larouci emerged as a promising defender over the last couple of years. But despite a formidable individual season, Troyes would suffer relegation to Ligue 2 which opened the door for United to sign the 22-year-old.
Being called up to the France U21’s squad is a strong indication of his talent; if you aren’t familiar with youth football, France has fielded some ridiculously strong youth teams over the past few years.
What are his strengths?
Having watched a lot of French football, I have seen Larouci play on a few occasions and one thing that I specifically remember is him being good at driving forward with the ball into space, and his ability to beat players in a one-vs-one. That is probably down to the fact that he was developed as a left-winger before being converted to a left-back.
He has the elite blend of athleticism because he is powerful and quick, and this is why he is a huge outlet in the transition phase.
If you compare Yasser Larouci to fullbacks across Europe, it is clear that he possesses great dribbling ability. In the past 12 months, the left-back ranks in the 92nd percentile in progressive carries, averaging 3.61 per 90. And, he ranks in the 95th percentile in successful take-ons, averaging 1.90 [all numbers taken from FBref].
Just to clarify, he is not just taking players on in the middle of the pitch. Larouci uses his dribbling ability in the final third, he has registered 2.45 carries into the final third and 0.7 into the penalty area – both extremely high numbers.
To add to his attacking one-vs-one ability, he also excels at going in the other direction. He averages a solid number of 62.5% of dribblers tackled per 90. His reading of danger is another strong point of his game, he makes 1.3 interceptions and 2.3 clearances per 90. Additionally, he hasn’t registered a single error in the past 12 months.
What are his negatives?
So we’ve already covered his outstanding dribbling ability, unfortunately, he will be working a lot on his crossing technique as it is below par. He averages 0.40 successful crosses per 90 which ranks him in the 45th percentile.
His passing ability is not great and it is unlikely we’ll see huge amounts of chances created via this avenue. He has registered an extremely low amount of progressive passes per game which sees him ranked in the 28th percentile.
He could improve on his aggression in terms of meeting the man with the ball higher up the pitch, but that could be down to the Troyes manager instructing him to remain deep to block the space in behind.
Another solid addition to the team on paper and I have high hopes for Larouci in particular having seen him play a bunch of times. He will be a huge weapon for United when counterattacking due to his physical attributes and his dribbling ability.
His crossing is not great, but if we’re being realistic, no player that comes to Sheffield United is the finished article. But fans should remember the huge leaps in development that James McAtee, Iliman Ndiaye and Tommy Doyle took last year. If Larouci can make a similar jump then the Blades may have struck gold.