Leeds United’s hunt around Europe for a midfielder has come to an end with the club today expected to confirm the signing of Bayern Munich’s Michaël Cuisance. The French midfielder who joined the Bundesliga giants in 2019 from Borussia Mönchengladbach has left the club after just one year in search for more senior minutes. Leeds have been searching for midfield reinforcements all summer with a deal for Rodrigo de Paul dead in the water, Orta has turned his attention to the young Bayern midfielder. Despite only just turning 21, Michaël has already played over 40 games in the German top flight as well as being a regular for his country France at youth level. His form in the under 19 European championships for France in 2018 lead to him being named in the team of the tournament after scoring 2 goals and gaining 1 assist in 4 games. Although Bayern are short of midfield options after selling Thiago to Liverpool this summer, it’s seems that they are happy to sell Cuisance as they couldn’t promise first team minutes. So, what sort of player will Leeds being getting? I took a look.
Since making his Bundesliga debut for Borussia Mönchengladbach, he has gone on to play a total of 1927 minutes for both Gladbach and Bayern Munich, scoring 1 goal and providing 2 assists. On average he’s made 44.42 passes per 90 at a respectful 83.9% success rate, with 12.47 of them being forward passes. His pass accuracy is lower due to him attempting more difficult passes, with his pass accuracy in the final third only being 78.5%. One of his best attributes is his ability to dribble with the ball, making 5.74 dribbles per 90 at a 51.2% success rate. Although the success rate seems low, when attempting that many dribbles a game, even the elite players struggle. When he does get into shooting positions, he making 2.06 shots per 90 with low 15.9% on target success rate. His defensive numbers are average, winning 50.9% of the 7.43 defensive duels per 90. Having not played many minutes, the sample size of these stats are pretty low but they still give you an idea of the sort of player he is but we will explore this in more detail in the eye test.
*Stats via Wyscout and are league only.
He has played a number of positions for both clubs since breaking into the first team, primarily a right centre midfielder, playing as a number 8 but has also played a number of games in a more defensive midfield position. Given his attacking abilities, he’s much more suited playing as one of two number 8 where he can be involved in play more. You can see from his heat map he plays mainly on the right side of the pitch despite being left footed. This allows him to cut back on his left foot and look to play passes or get a shot away. It would be expected that he would come into Leeds’ midfield as one of the number 8 alongside Klich, something that suits him.
The Eye Test
Michaël Cuisance is a player with great technical quality and a cultured left foot. He plays with freedom on the pitch but also with great intelligence. He possesses the ability to dribble past players through quick movements and quick feet. This allows him to keep the ball well when pressed by the opposition and in central areas. The example below shows this, producing a ball roll with his favoured left foot past the on rushing opponent.
In the same game he received the ball under pressure from a number of opposition players, turned and accelerated into the space. He dropped a shoulder and shifted the ball onto his left foot beating the player that came to engage.
He plays with his head up which means that he knows where the space is for both him and for his teammates. Whether he plays in a deeper role or a more advance role, he likes to show for ball and always wants to be involved in play. When he is on the ball, his first thought is looking forward and how he can hurt the opposition. He does favour passing on his left foot and has a tendency to use the outside of his foot instead of his right foot. Cuisance has a good passing range, more than capable of playing a variety of passes. The two passages of play below show this, the first being a well weighted through ball to his teammate which allowed him to run onto the ball without breaking his stride. This lead to an assist for Cuisance.
The second example shows him picking up the ball in a deeper position and producing floated pass to find his team mate making a run of the back of the opposition. This pass also showed his vision and ability to execute more difficult passes.
There are areas of his game that he will want to improve on. Cuisance has good energy in midfield but does struggle when it comes to winning duels. There are occasions where is looks like he can win the ball back but is a bit weak in the challenge, as seen below.
The ball is there to be won but Cuisance struggles to get his body in between the ball and man, he ends up fouling the opposition player. He will also want to produce more attacking output in terms of goals and assists. Despite playing nearly 2000 minutes in the league, he has only scored once and only gotten two assists. With the quality he has on his left foot and the vision he has, you would expect his numbers to be slightly higher. In terms of assists, this is of course down to his team mates finishing the chances he creates, but producing a higher volume of chances will result in more assists. His only goal came for Bayern against Wolfsburg, coming inside on his left before firing a beautiful curling shot past the keeper.
He definitely has the quality to be scoring more goals and with more consistent game time and playing in a system that allows him to get into better goal scoring situations, you would expect him to do so. After that it’s just about fine tuning his game and continuing to improve the areas that he’s strong in as well as becoming more of a consistent performer. This is something that will take time, as with any young player but after breaking onto the scene at a young age, many would have expected him to be further along with his development.
Cuisance is far from the finished article but will give Leeds a different option in midfield. He represents good value at a reported 20 million at just 21 years of age and despite Bayern letting him go, there is a buy back clause in the deal which shows that they still rate him. Bielsa likes a project, especially players with raw ability that need polishing up and Cuisance is certainly that. Since Victor Orta has come to Leeds he and his team have scouted youth tournaments heavily. Given how well Michaël has done in these tournaments, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he’s a player that Leeds have been monitoring for a number of years.
Written by Thomas Wilson
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