What do we look for in a winger? The qualities that will be mentioned the most as an answer to this question will be pace, dribbling, ability to take on defenders, strength, and goals. Combine all these qualities and put them into one player, and you get Moussa Diaby. Diaby is a swashbuckling winger with pace and dribbles that will leave any fan swooning. The 23-year-old is having a great season with Bayer Leverkusen and is helping them in their resurgence. He has six goals and three assists to his name midway through the season in the Bundesliga and is arguably Leverkusen’s best player this season. We look at some stats to understand why he will have a big role to play in Leverkusen’s resurgence this season.
Moussa Diaby has started all 15 matches for Bayer Leverkusen this season and has scored six goals in the Bundesliga. The France international also has three assists to his name in the league. In addition, he has scored twice in the Champions League as well. The above visual shows the percentile rank of Moussa Diaby compared to other right-wingers in the Bundesliga. As the pizza chart suggests, he has good attacking and passing stats. Diaby is ranked in the top 85.7 percentile for entry into the opposition penalty area and the top 71.4 percentile for shots and dribbles per game. The 23-year-old also has good passing stats and is ranked in the top 76.17 percentile for dangerous passes per game. Diaby’s defensive stats are not very impressive, which indicates that he doesn’t contribute much to the defence.
The above visual shows the penetrating carries made by Moussa Diaby this season. Dribbling is one of Diaby’s best qualities, as he whistles past defenders with ease. He is fast, strong, and has good control over the ball. These qualities make him a dangerous player and hard to defend against. He also has a box of skills that he uses often to get past challenges. Diaby has made an average of 4.93 dribbles per game this season with a 50.7% success rate. His dribbles are fast but at the same time controlled, which makes him a difficult player to deal with. In addition to this, the 23-year-old also makes around 3.11 progressive runs per game.
Moussa Diaby has scored six goals in the Bundesliga this season. The above visual shows his xG map. We can observe from the map that he has attempted a total of 26 shots this season, with 17 of them coming from inside the penalty box and 18 of them on target. He usually plays on the right wing and cuts inside to play a shot, which reduces his xG per shot to 0.13 per shot. He has an accumulated xG of 3.31 and has scored almost twice as many goals. This, in itself, is a measure of how good he is.
Diaby’s return to form:
The best news for Bayer Leverkusen fans and management is that he has returned to his best form. All six of his goals in the Bundesliga have come in the last seven matches. He struggled to find the back of the net at the beginning of the season, and the lack of efficiency from a crucial player hurt Leverkusen. In the last seven matches, he has attempted a total of 21 shots and scored seven times, with six in the Bundesliga and one in the DFB Pokal.
The above visual shows Moussa Diaby’s xG map from last season. He scored 13 goals and assisted another 13 in the Bundesliga. The beginning of this season saw a very slim shadow of Diaby from last season. But in the last few matches, the youngster has managed to pick up his form and has scored half as many goals in seven matches as he did in the entire season last year. He attempted a total of 52 shots last season and averaged 1.64 shots per game. This year, midway through the season, he has exactly half as many shots as he did last season, while his shots have gone up to 1.82 shots per game.
A player who has similar stats and profiles to Moussa Diaby is his Eintracht Frankfurt rival, Daichi Kamada. Although not a winger, Kamada’s attacking style is similar to Moussa Diaby’s. Since Moussa Diaby is a winger, his main strengths lie in dribbling and shooting, and he contributes more toward goals. Kamada, being an attacking midfielder, has a better passing record along with his dribbling and attacking skills.
Moussa Diaby has been a revelation for Bayer Leverkusen ever since they signed him. But he is showing signs of approaching his best form in the last two seasons. His return to form will be an encouragement for the newly appointed manager, Xabi Alonso, and the fans. The 23-year-old will be looking to continue his red-hot form once the league restarts in January.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine