Kaustubh Pandey provides a detailed scout report about Juan Foyth, Estudiantes’ ball-playing defender.
Argentina has, since time immemorial, been a breeding ground of talents that teams love to pick up at a young age and develop them into world-class players. It’s one of the reasons why the nation has seen players like Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona grace it and represent it throughout their famed careers.
Many Argentine superstars have gone on to touch greatness, but another factor that makes it hard to separate them from others is their grace and flair on the ball. A lot of them are technically adept and are blessed with a good pair of feet. Exceptions, on the basis of which positions the players play in, do exist. But a majority of Argentine footballers are always good with the ball on their feet.
With the national side entering a phase where there isn’t too much recognizable talent coming through the ranks, young Juan Foyth is one of those who can make his nation proud someday in the future.
Who is Juan Foyth?
Born in La Plata, the capital city of the Province of Buenos Aires in Argentina, Foyth happens to be a product of the famed Estudiantes youth academy. While the club is based in La Plata itself, it has seen the likes of Carlos Bilardo and Juan Sebastian Veron don the famed red and white stripes in the past.
Foyth broke into the first-team setup as recently as March 2017, when his club faced Patronato in a Primera Division clash. He made five appearances for the first team that season and all five were starts at his favored centre-back position. Foyth also made it to the bench in three Copa Libertadores games, but couldn’t start any of them.
The 19-year-old hasn’t represented the Argentine national side yet, but has already made 12 appearances for the Under-20s outfit, becoming a regular this year itself. His impressive showings in the heart of the defense for the national side saw him play all three games in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, as Argentina were ousted from the competition in the group stages.
Despite not having too much of a background playing for senior teams, Foyth is allegedly a subject of interest from Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur, with the 2017-18 Premier League season on the horizon.
What is his Style of Play?
Someone who fits the tag of being a cultured defender, Foyth is tall and rather lanky and has the tendency to dribble the ball out of the defense. His style of play has been compared to that of John Stones, earning him the tag of being an ‘Argentine John Stones’ as well. And much like a lot of Argentine players, Foyth is good on the ball and oozes grace too.
What are his Strengths?
The fact that Foyth is blessed with a pair of wonderful feet makes him the defender that he is. That feature of his play defines the player he is.
His suitability to a possession oriented system that relies on defenders building from the back is obvious from the way he plays. He has the confidence to dribble out of crowded areas and the know-how to go past players in areas close to his own goal. He completed 1.9 dribbles per game last season, which is more than a lot of the world’s top wingers and strikers as well. It’s certain that there is a difference when it comes to areas of performing dribbles, but the stat is impressive enough for a player as young as Foyth.
Below, watch how he receives the ball in a deep position. Despite being hounded by a host of players, he shows immense courage in playing his way out of trouble. The surging run doesn’t make him look like a central defender and if not for the bad pass at the end of the run, he could have created a wonderful opening too.
Another important aspect of Foyth’s play is his tackling and the ability to recover balls with a minimum of fuss. His composure on and off the ball makes the youngster a reliable figure while defending. He won 2.7 tackles per game, making just as many interceptions throughout the previous campaign.
Have a look at how the Argentine uses his body and slides in to perfection to win the ball from the attacker in the final third. He gets dribbled past by someone only 0.6 times per game, which is certainly impressive.
The fact that he uses his body well makes him a tough man to go past not just on the ground, but in the air as well. Last season, he won 1.7 aerial duels per game, which is good for any central defender.
What are his Weaknesses?
Foyth may aspire to be a proper ball playing defender, but there’s a lack of perfection in that. And just because he is good on the ball doesn’t mean he is a good passer as well. His passing accuracy stood at 79 percent and it isn’t a statistic that upholds his identity of being a ball-playing defender. In fact, it undermines that to some extent.
The stat about his heading ability isn’t really enough to justify his aerial strength. He may have won 1.7 aerial duels per game, but that comes from an overall attempted headers of 2.9 per game. It implies that Foyth actually loses 1.2 headers per game. That isn’t too bad, but is a factor he would need to work upon. And while it isn’t too concerning, his height will only allow him to better his heading ability as the years go by.
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