Scouting Report: Ajax Midfielder Thulani Serero Is Arsenal Quality

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Scouting Report: Ajax Midfielder Thulani Serero Is Arsenal Quality
Patrick Post

Ajax central midfielder Thulani Serero should be a summer transfer window target for Arsenal, so here is a scouting report on the 23-year-old South African international.  

 

Positives

Serero is a midfielder with world-class potential.

At Ajax, Serero is a crucial member of manager Frank de Boer's midfield triumvirate.

Davy Klaassen is afforded a free-roaming position, Daley Blind anchors midfield when he is not starting at left-back and Serero's role is in between Klaassen and Blind. 

Source: UEFA.com

"Davy [Klaassen] is very good at going deep and scoring. I like creating chances and making the team play. Daley [Blind] is also the same, but more defensive," Serero said, per Ajax TV. "We're a good combination."

Serero is a complete midfielder, who possesses a rare blend of positional awareness, metronomic passing, creativity and is a disruptive defensive presence. 

During Ajax's 2-1 win over PEC Zwolle, he intercepted Zwolle goalkeeper Kevin Begois' pass and played in Ajax centre-forward Kolbeinn Sigthorsson. 

Source: Eredivisie.nl/PEC ZwolleTV

Serero reads play well.

He accumulated five interceptions in one game twice against Vitesse (1-0 defeat, per Squawka.com) and Twente (3-0 win, per Squawka.com).

Source: Squawka.com.
Source: Squawka.com.

Serero has gone from being viewed primarily as an attacking threat to one of the Eredivisie's most complete footballers. 

"It's quite intense [in the Eredivisie] when you have to defend and attack," Serero said, per Marc Strydom at Sportlive.co.za. "I think my all-round skills have developed and I'm a much better player now."

Serero has won back possession 102 times in combined Eredivisie/Champions League play this season, while only giving away 19 free-kicks.

This shows how proficient of a ball-winner Serero is. 

Serero  Eredivisie UEFA Champions League
     
Tackles 45 12
Interceptions 35 10
Fouls 18 1
     

Serero has superlative stamina which allows him to play a box-to-box role.

His perfectly timed runs are why he often surges into opposing penalty boxes unmarked as evident against Feyenoord (second), PSV Eindhoven (fourth) and Zwolle (ninth), all three teams are in the top half of the Eredivisie.

Source: Eredivisie.nl/Ajax TV
Source: Eredivisie.nl/Ajax TV
Source: Eredivisie.nl/PEC ZwolleTV

Serero is a high-football-IQ midfielder who passes and moves decisively. 

He has recorded a 90-pass-completion percentage in league play on 12 occasions, per Squawka.com

Source: Squawka.com

One of Serero's best assets is his playmaking. 

He registered two assists in Ajax's 4-0 win over ADO Den Haag.

During Ajax's two Champions League games against Celtic (a 2-1 defeat and a 1-0 win), Serero created goals in both games. 

In Ajax's 3-0 win over Utrecht, he played a diagonal pass to Ajax centre-forward Danny Hoesen.

Source: Eredivisie.nl

When Ajax beat Twente 3-0, Ajax left forward Ricardo Kishna and centre-forward Bojan were benefactors of through balls from Serero. 

Source: Eredivisie.nl/Ajax TV
Source: Eredivisie.nl/Ajax TV

Negatives

It remains to be seen if Serero is a one-season wonder in top-flight European football.

Serero's all-action, dynamic and explosive playing style puts a lot of pressure on his 5'8" and 150-pound frame (in Dutch). 

He tore his groin muscle in September 2012, per Ajax's official facebook page

Since then he has taken care of his body.

His anxiety of suffering another serious injury was why he quit on the South African national team last September. 

It forced national team manager Gordon Igesund to hold a frank media conference and he went on to lambaste Serero for not being patriotic and having attitude issues. 

Igesund and Serero have since resolved their differences which allowed the Ajax midfielder to play for South Africa in a 5-0 defeat to Brazil last month, per Kickoff.com.

 

Bottom Line

Serero has the upside to emulate Arsenal central midfielder Aaron Ramsey's performances in the first half of the season. 

Serero has displayed no weaknesses this season: He rarely makes mistakes, his positional sense is flawless, he works hard without the ball and he covers a lot of ground. 

In addition, he chips in with handy goals and assists. 

Who scored the opening goal in Ajax's 2-1 Champions League win over Barcelona? Serero. 

Serero is versatile enough to be a holding midfielder, a box-to-box midfielder or a central attacking midfielder. 

His game translates perfectly to the Premier League, so he is a footballer Arsenal should consider signing in the summer transfer window. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored

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