Many of England’s starlets have been achieving much deserved acclaim after their impressive tournament win, but an underappreciated star of the competition comes in the form of Martin Adeline, France’s exceptional midfield destroyer. The 18-year-old left PSG just two years ago to grow his career elsewhere, and after playing 8 games this season in Ligue 1, he looks to have boosted his reputation a step further at the Euros this summer in Slovakia. The dynamic midfielder showed much promise for France at the competition, helping lead his team toward the semi-final stage of the tournament. Here is our analysis of Martin Adeline, and his performances at the Euros.
Style of PlayEmbed from Getty Images
A ball-winning midfielder who you can guarantee will fight for the badge every time he sets foot on the pitch, Adeline always does everything in his powers to improve the likelihood of a win. Midfielders are often the most energetic breed, but the young Frenchman takes this ideal to a new level. His dynamism and efficiency on the defensive end make him a hazard disruptor for any opposing forwards breaking their way through the centre of the pitch. Having played in France’s midfield three all summer, the youngster has proven worthy playing in the defensive-midfield position or one of the ‘number 8’ roles.
Technically, Adeline more than holds his own, even if he isn’t the most gifted around. This is perhaps the cause of ignorance toward his powerful displays. Instead of being a technical guru, he dictates periods of the game with his expert tackling and unrivalled anticipation. For the Frenchman, his work rate remains his most influential characteristic, playing an immaculately important role in defensive transitions. He’s always the first to react in energetically stepping out to press and counter-press, wonderfully illustrated by his 26.2 total pressures per 90 last season (7.18 successful). His heatmap also shows signs of a player who can energetically disrupt and distract all over the pitch, whether that be in possession – such as floating up to the half-spaces; or out of possession, where he expertly covers wide for out of position mates.Embed from Getty Images
Given his exceptional defensive output at 3.59 tackles and 3.59 interceptions per 90 for Reims last season, it’s almost a surprise that he didn’t feature more for his club team. Even when deployed in higher roles, Adeline still maintained his excellent defensive work rate – such as the four tackles he put up against Clermont Foot when deployed on the left of a front-three. So as they slowly ease the disruptive midfielder into their ranks, Adeline could easily now spark to life next season, gaining confidence from his excellent campaign this summer.
In possessionEmbed from Getty Images
On the ball, Adeline provides a marching presence, wonderfully dictating the tempo for his team. With top dollar close control, his ball-carrying abilities can be considered more than resolute, even if they do require some growth to claim world class status. He won over 60% of his dribbles in Ligue 1 last season, again showcasing his potential promise in possession.
Equally, his passing range and decision-making allowed him to dominate the centre of the park against Italy, Romania and Slovakia in the group stage of the competition, before being unjustly beaten in France’s commanding performance versus Israel. Together with Warren Bondo and Florent da Silva, France’s midfield tore Israel apart, playing the ball around with ease. Bondo would act in more of a regista ‘Deep-Lying-Playmaker’ role, dictating the tempo from deeper, whilst da Silva operated more like a ‘Mezzala’, operating in the half-spaces and small pockets of space to pick apart the opposition. The subject of our case study was then free to move between the lines and buzz around the pitch, similar to the ‘number 10’ role he often plays for Reims. This role gives Adeline the chance to build attacks from deep and triangulate with the pair of midfielders next to him, but also make late runs into the box, illustrating his hardworking box-to-box mentality.
Adeline’s 1 goal and 1 assist in his 4 games at the Euros cannot be understated for a more defensively-minded midfielder. Both events involved successful components of his game that we have already outlined – late runs into the box and excellent driving in transition. A direct driver always looking to go forward, Adeline backs himself to win 1v1 situations and beat opposition players for space. If he can refine the passing and possession sides of his game, Adeline will continue to grow into his advanced midfield role at Reims. But he could also make for an excellent ‘Midfield Destroyer’ at the heart of Reims’ midfield down the road, opening the door for potential versatility already witnessed for France this summer.
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On the defensive end, the Frenchman justifiably earns his buck. His previously defined energetic style of play suits the ball-winning role incredibly well, even if often pushed higher than we might think of when conjuring up ‘ball-winning-midfielders’. He’s almost Kante-esque in his ability to tackle + intercept, whilst driving the team on in possession through intelligent ball carrying and dribbling going the other way.Embed from Getty Images
Almost operating at times like a ‘Pressing Ten’, the 18 year-old is extremely effective pressing the opposition high up the pitch. He’s exceptionally quick to close down the man on the ball, even at the expense of his own positioning. This approach can also lead to a few more fouls than the average player – such as his 4.18 per 90 in Ligue 1 last season. However, with a little fine-tuning, La Rouge should manage to phase that out of his game, without mitigating his high number of possession regains. It’s also very possible that as he matures, the tough tackling side of his game will become more refined, composed and wisely-selected. He’s already shown an ability to patiently screen the opposition striker and anchor the midfield at the Euros this summer, interchanging position with Bondo as he advances up the field. But for now, his eccentric, tough-tackling behaviours are essential characteristics for both club and country, and one that puts him in good stead to perform a number of different roles for Reims next season.
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If not another year at Reims, another Ligue 1 side could easily bat their eyes and turn up the dial in offering Adeline a new contract. A midfield three suits his versatility and dynamism, particularly the freedom of expression he can go on and provide with strength in numbers. Bruno Genesio’s Stade Rennes could then be an option, where he’d link up with two of his current U19 teammates, Loum Tchaouna and Andy Diouf.
Another option in Ligue 1 could be Olympique Lyon. Having struggled in the league last season, they often relied on the likes of Paquetá, Dembele and Toko-Ekambi, often with a weak underbelly in the centre of the park. Although only 18, Adeline could help gain some control in the middle of the field and raise their defensive appetite. Last season, they sat in the bottom half for interceptions, tackles and goals conceded per 90, suggesting that major restructuring may be needed. The French aggressor has the versatility to fill those gaps in any one of Lyon’s chosen midfield roles, making him an attractive option for the famous French club.Embed from Getty Images
Finally, staying with Stade de Reims is also an excellent option. More minutes in a top five league is the must-have, and Adeline’s minutes are bound to increase off the back of his performances. It’s then all about finding the right role for the Frenchman given his potential versatility and unique skillset, and giving him the chance to fully express his tough tackling magnificence.
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With English internationals achieving much of the acclaim, Martin Adeline was one the unsung hero of the U19 European Championships. An unfortunate exit in the semi-final dimmed the glow shining down on the French team up until that point, but it was nevertheless an excellent tournament for Adeline and his friends. Moving forward, Reims must strategize around the best methods for utilising his dynamism and versatility to success. The quick and intuitive movement he provides in transition will become especially valuable to any club looking to secure his signature, but he’s capable of being so much more than just a tough-tackling, ball-winning-midfielder. At risk of getting ahead of ourselves, just a few years down the line, we could be admiring France’s next top-tier ball-winner, in a similar mold to N’Golo Kante.
So there it is! An analysis of Martin Adeline after his impressive performances with France at the UEFA U19 European Championships. Be sure to check out more of this series, and follow on social media @mastermindsite to never miss an update. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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