Scouting Report: Is Afriyie Acquah Arsenal Quality?

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Scouting Report: Is Afriyie Acquah Arsenal Quality?
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Could Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger target Hoffenheim central midfielder Afriyie Acquah?

To cover that scenario, here is a scouting report on the 22-year-old Ghanaian international. 

 

Positives

Acquah is a 5'11", 154-pound footballer, who featured predominantly as a central midfielder in a 4-3-3 or as an emergency right wing-back on loan at Parma last season. 

Source: UEFA.com.

Acquah has noticeable first-step speed, which was evident when he burst past several Torino players and drew a penalty from Torino centre-back Kamil Glik.

Source: LegaSerieA.it.

Against AC Milan, Acquah explosively raced down the right wing, cut to the byline and hit a low cross to Parma deep-lying forward Antonio Cassano.

Source: LegaSerieA.it.

Acquah's speed was on show again when he charged down Sampdoria's right flank and crossed the ball to Parma left-back Cristian Molinaro. 

Source: LegaSerieA.it.

Against Roma, Acquah displayed strength, nimbleness and technique when he controlled the ball with his chest, swivelled and placed it past Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis.  

Source: LegaSerieA.it.

Blessed with tremendous athleticism, Acquah would transition smoothly to the Premier League. 

On the ball, Acquah is decisive, and he briskly recycles the ball with accuracy. 

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

Acquah is still developing his passing game, so he is limited to passing the ball backwards and sideways. He generally only passes forward if it is clear cut, like against Napoli to a wide-open Cassano. 

Source: LegaSerieA.it.

Acquah's efficient approach to retaining possession last season resulted in a career-best 87.1 pass completion percentage, which is 9.7 percent higher than his 2011-12 output for Palermo (77.4). 

Acquah was given his first taste of European football by the Glentoran Community Trust in Northern Ireland.

"We brought [Acquah] back to Belfast to train with the Glentoran senior team in 2007," Glentoran Community Trust board member Sam Robinson said, per Graham Luney at the Belfast Telegraph. "He once told [us] how he cried himself to sleep one night [as] he was so grateful for all the help we have given him."

 

Negatives

Acquah is raw, his defensive positional sense is sub-par and his marking is inattentive. 

His defending is unrestrained, hence why his tackles resulted in free kicks (56) more times than he won the ball (45) last season.

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

Acquah's tackling efficiency is at an unacceptable 36 percent, per Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

What's more, Acquah has accumulated more fouls per game than tackles per game in three of his four seasons in Serie A.

League Only Tackles Per Game Fouls Per Game
     
2013-14 1.7 2.1
2012-13 1.3 0.8
2011-12 1.5 1.8
2010-11 0.9 1.6
     

Acquah needs to expand his passing range, given he only averaged one long pass per game last season. 

There is a vast gap when you compare and contrast his short-medium passes to his long passes. 

Long Passes Short-Medium Passes
   
28/49 672/755
57.1% 89%
   

 

Bottom Line

Hoffenheim completed the signing of Swiss international midfielder Pirmin Schwegler toward the end of the season, per Bundesliga.com

Schwegler has played in Germany for Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt since 2006, so Acquah could be offloaded in the summer transfer window. 

This suggests Hoffenheim management are projecting Acquah's career path to be more like Franco Zuculini than Luiz Gustavo.

Zuculini was a highly rated Argentine youth international who showed upside but never dominated in midfield.  

He is now back in Argentina. 

Gustavo was the second highest rated Hoffenheim player with 15 league starts or more during the first-half of the 2010-11 season, per Kicker, which paved a €15 million transfer to Bayern Munich in the 2011 January transfer window. 

Bayern sold Gustavo to Wolfsburg for €20 million in 2013.

Acquah has outstanding physical tangibles, is a tidy passer and is only 22 years of age. And, despite several red flags, Acquah could be a good developmental project for Wenger.

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com

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