Around this time last year, Brighton & Hove Albion made a stunning swoop for Ecuadorian midfielder Moisés Caicedo, who at the time, was playing for Independiente del Valle in the Ecuadorian Serie A. They swiftly sent him on loan to Belgian First Division side Beerschot for the beginning half of the 2021-22 season, where his success in Belgium prompted the Seagulls to immediately install him in the heart of their midfield for the remainder of the campaign. Now an Albion regular, Moisés Caicedo has been one of the Premier League’s standout midfielders since his re-arrival in the Prem, as an up-and-down ‘Shuttler’ capable of covering ground all over the pitch. Here is our analysis of Ecuador’s supreme midfielder Moisés Caicedo.
POSITIONING & ROLEEmbed from Getty Images
Playing on the left-side of a double pivot alongside a ‘Deep-Lying Playmaker’ in the form of Alexis Mac Allister, we classify Caicedo as a ‘Shuttler’. This is a player with incredible box-to-box mobility to get up and down the pitch, who airs on the defensive side of the game over any attacking brilliance he exudes going the other way. To bring context to the role, other famous ‘Shuttlers’ include N’Golo Kanté, Idrissa Gueye, Kouadio Koné, and one of my personal favourites – Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. What all of these players have in common is a tireless energy to cover ground, and a frequent desire to drive forward with the ball and contribute to attacks, even if their role will always be more of a defensive one.
Caicedo is no different. He’s magnificent in covering ground across the pitch, particularly up and down the left-half-spaces, and in shifting wide to break up the play in transition and protect the high position of a wing-back. He’s an extraordinary tackler and fierce competitor, possessing a monstrous mentality in both attacking and defensive phases. This serves as the perfect partner for the on-the-ball quality of Alexis Mac Allister, who possesses less mobility to get across the pitch, but spikes higher on his on-the-ball magnificence.Embed from Getty Images
But even despite his defensive dominance, Caicedo remains a smooth and smart operator on the ball, constantly scanning the field and urging his teammates on with their decision making. His own decision making reaches that top tier, with an 87% passing success and 75% tackling success this season.Embed from Getty Images
Given his expert positioning and timing of challenges, Caicedo could easily play the role of the ‘6’ in a midfield three as more of a ‘Midfield Destroyer’, or as a more adventurous and attacking ‘8’ as he ventures box-to-box. This versatility will be integral to his future as he evolves into new roles for new teams, and helps his national team to success at the upcoming World Cup. We may even see that box-to-box role manifest in more attacking ways for Ecuador to end the year, as the LAFC midfielder Jhegson Méndez sits and screens, whilst dropping into the ‘6’ position out from the back.
ATTACKING STYLE OF PLAYEmbed from Getty Images
Despite being the more defensively-minded midfielder in the Brighton eleven, Caicedo always features at the attacking end of the pitch. His driving mobility on and off the ball provides Brighton with a constant sense of energy down the left wing, where he can often link up with his compatriot Pervis Estupiñán, and the effervescent Leandro Trossard. With a magnificent engine always ready to ride any storm, the Ecuadorian loves to get on the ball and drive forward, and never shies away from breaking lines through his strong carrying ability. When it comes to line-splitting passes, Caicedo continues to hold his own, benefiting the strong running in behind of his left-sided mates.
In fact, what makes Caicedo unique among the players we listed off is his exceptional long-passing within Brighton’s system. Under Graham Potter, the Seagulls often utilized long-passes across the field to switch play, break lines or set one of their ‘Channel Runners’ away, and Caicedo never looked in any doubt when completing these moves. His long passing across the past 365 days reaches a height of 81.6%, which is higher than Mac Allister’s by more than 15% (66.4%).
Mac Allister’s a riskier pass and engaging progressor, but Caicedo’s ability to time the correct pass remains impressive nevertheless. Being capable of finding tiny gaps that others simply wouldn’t dare to find, the 21-year-old has the foundations for great vision and awareness, that will take him to the top echelon of Europe’s elite soon enough.
Showcasing that precision, among our ‘Shuttler’ cohort, Caicedo’s completed the highest percentage of passes into the penalty area (79%) this season. Even if those contributions remain lower than other players in the Brighton squad, you know that 8/10 times the Ecuadorian makes a line-breaking. incisive, dangerous pass, it’s going to come off.
Caicedo also stands out when compared to his peers when it comes to timing his shots. 38.1% of his shots have landed on target this season, with a goal conversion of 10%. This beats the vast majority of midfielders, who typically strike the ball from distance even when better options may be available. Combine that with a robust and aggressive mentality to win his attacking duels and combine with his teammates, and you get an incredibly efficient player in attacking phases. Again, Caicedo’s not just a defensive warrior, but someone that more than holds their own in contributing to De Zerbi’s attack.
DEFENSIVE STYLE OF PLAYEmbed from Getty Images
Out of possession is where Caicedo truly shines, as a tough-tackling defensive disrupter. He’s excellent in quickly recovering position in defensive transitions, and often responsible for holding rank and breaking up the play in response to advanced teammates. Crucial to the process of helping to screen opposition strikers, the 21-year-old excellently ensures he holds compactness in front of the defensive line and limits the amount of depth to play through the lines.Embed from Getty Images
A precision tackler, Caicedo’s stepped up to win 64% of his tackles across the calendar year (75% this season), which ranks in the top 3% of midfielders from Europe’s top five leagues. As an excellent and proactive presser, he even remains key to the process of winning back the ball all the way up the pitch, where he and Mac Allister will often step up together to impose their force closer to goal. In his own third, often as the man breaking up the play or remaining right next to the situation, Caicedo’s often one of the keys to starting the attacking transition going the other way, where his precision long passing can again take center stage.
Dominant in the air, Caicedo’s even won 66% of his aerial duels in the last 365 days, making himself an imposing force at the heart of Brighton’s midfield, and ensuring the beasts at the back have less defending to do.Embed from Getty Images
As far as an all-around defensive presence goes, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many destructors operating at the same level of Caicedo. He certainly can refine his tackling to ensure he’s not just bulldozing his way through but also timing his challenges to perfection, but this is often something that comes with age, and not every player can be N’Golo Kante at an 80% defensive dueling success rate.
But when it comes to the art of positioning and angling himself to stop attacking thrusts, Caicedo stands out in ways that you might not see on first glance. He’s precise in his positioning when cutting off potentially dangerous passing lanes, understanding how and when to force the opposition away from goal and away from advanced options.
In this example, even with an out of position fullback, Caicedo nicely shuts down both passing options with one outstretched leg in his body stance, before winning the ball from Sterling as he delays the decision. This is nothing abnormal for Caicedo within his game, continuously scanning the field to stop the opposition from reaching full fluidity. His intense and aggressive mobility persistently forces the opposition away from his team’s goal, ensuring they can spend less time at the defensive end, and go on the hunt for goals instead.
CONCLUSIONEmbed from Getty Images
At 21 years of age, Moisés Caicedo is already within the echelon of Europe’s elite midfielders. Possessing a magnificent engine to get up and down the pitch at will, Caicedo never stops roaming and running. He wonderfully covers the half-spaces for out of position teammates, whilst providing that necessary screen in front of the back-line. Exceptional in both his ability to break lines and break up the play, Caicedo is turning into an all-around midfielder capable of holding his own with the best in the business. All of Europe’s elite clubs should have the Ecuadorian on their radar, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn up at a club like Liverpool or Bayern in the next year.
So there it is! Our tactical analysis of the wonderful Moisés Caicedo in 2022. Be sure to check out more of our Player Analyses, Premier League articles, and follow on social media @mastermindsite and @desmondrhys to never miss an update. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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