Scouting Report: Why Anouar Kali Should Be a Manchester United Transfer Target

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMarch 5, 2014


Manchester United management should have copious notes on hundreds of potential summer transfer targets, and this scouting report will tell you why Roda's 22-year-old 5'8" defensive midfielder Anouar Kali should be a secondary transfer target. 


World-Class Passer 

Do you know which team is bottom of the Eredivisie and is on a six-game losing streak? 

It is Roda, captained by Kali, a Dutch-born Moroccan youth international, who transferred to the club last summer from Utrecht. 

Source: WhoScored

Here are the two lessons you learn when you find out that Kali, an elegant left-footer, averages more passes per game (60.7), has more league assists (three) and registers more key passes per game (1.3; a pass that leads to a shot) for the worst team in the Eredivisie than Tom Cleverley does for Manchester United (54.9 passes per game, no assists, 0.5 key passes per game):

  1. Roda is only a stopgap option for Kali, who should be upgrading Eredivisie clubs in the summer if Roda are relegated to the Eerste Divisie.
  2. Kali is going above and beyond for Roda while Cleverley is doing the bare minimum for United. 

In Roda's 3-3 draw against Heerenveen, Kali shrugged off former United player Magnus Wolff Eikrem's pressure (now with Cardiff City) and hit an audacious lofted through-ball to Krisztian Nemeth, the former Liverpool player.


While during Roda's 3-3 draw against Utrecht, Kali pulled off a shot-fake before finding Mark-Jan Fledderus with an incisive instep pass. 


Kali has wide-ranging passing ability. He pinpoints a location, predicts the run of his teammate and consistently distributes short, medium, long, simple or complex passes. 

Kali is technically so much more developed than his teammates and the large majority of opposing players from mid- to bottom-tier Eredivisie clubs.

Still, is it a red flag that Kali is not playing for a bigger Dutch club such as Ajax, PSV Eindhoven or Feyenoord?



Flying Under the Radar

It is not unusual to see high-quality footballers like Kali hidden away at unfancied Dutch clubs. 

A chance encounter between a cameraman covering European football games and then Liverpool chief executive Peter Robinson led to the signing of Sami Hyypia from Willem II in 1999, per Liverpool's official website

Hyypia went on to play 464 games for the Reds.

In 2000, Arsenal sold Marc Overmars to Barcelona for £25 million (was in a joint-£32 million valued package deal with Emmanuel Petit), per BBC Sport

Can you name Overmars' first two Dutch clubs? Go Ahead Eagles and Willem II (joined the Gunners via Ajax). 

Ruud van Nistelrooy, who won the 2002-03 Premier League Golden Boot for United, started his career with Den Bosch (joined United via PSV). 

Former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his regret in selling Jaap Stam, per the Manchester Evening News, but before the Dutchman was a world-class defender, his first three clubs were: Zwolle, Cambuur and Willem II (joined United via PSV). 

AC Milan attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda played for VVV-Venlo.

Liverpool deep-lying forward Luis Suarez, the current Premier League leader in goals (24) and assists (10), impressed for Groningen prior to being signed by Ajax. 


Bottom Line

Without possession, Kali is an industrious ball hawk (67 tackles and 56 interceptions in 23 games), but he often commits yellow-card tackles, which is why he has received five suspensions in the past two seasons, per

Since he is so hyperactive, his positional discipline off the ball needs improving. 

The flip side is that he can turn defence into attack like when he blocked an attempted clearance from NEC's Christoph Hemlein, which fell fortuitously to Nemeth, who went on to score for Roda. 


If Kali works on his defending while continuing to be a midfield maestro, he will be an elite footballer.

Right now, he should only be a backup transfer target if United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward does not attain his primary transfer targets in the summer window. 

The obvious problem with that theory is that by the time Woodward packs it in and looks to his secondary transfer options, Kali may have already signed for another club. 



Statistics via WhoScored