Brahim Diaz insight: Scouting report, player comparison, transfer rating and more

By Rohit Rajeev -

As was announced on the club’s official website on Saturday, Milan have completed the signing of Brahim Diaz on loan from Real Madrid.

Milan will become Diaz’s third club as a senior player after Manchester City and Real Madrid, but not much is known about the 21-year-old and the potential that he possesses.

Nonetheless, he is a versatile addition to the attacking department and could be an ideal replacement for someone like Giacomo Bonaventura.

Here is an analysis of what Milan fans can expect from their latest recruit…

Profile

Name: Brahim Diaz
Parent club: Real Madrid
Height: 1.71 metres
Foot: Both

Back story

Brahim Abdelkadir Diaz was born in Malaga in 1999 to a Moroccan father and a Spanish mother. An academy product of Malaga, he played there until 16 until the allure of playing for a big club and a convincing talk with Pep Guardiola took him to Manchester City for €230,000. He made his first appearance against Leicester in the EFL Cup and got his first start in the Champions League against Feyenoord.

However, he exploded for Spain in U17 European Championships back in 2016 and made the world take notice. Lack of first team minutes and a yearning to go back to his home country saw Brahim return to Spain, joining Real Madrid who paid €18million despite the objection of Guardiola who wanted to keep the player.

He is dubbed as the ‘Messi of Malaga’ by those who saw his game back in his hometown.

Playing style

With an extremely short stature, Brahim Diaz is a nightmare for defenders. His low centre of gravity makes him extremely quick and difficult to catch, and he is able to make quick changes of direction and beat opponents in 1-on-1 battles.

Diaz has the ability to accelerate very quickly, but his top speed may not be as explosive as some wingers. Nonetheless, he is a whizz with the ball at his feet, demonstrating excellent close control while dribbling and possessing a very good first touch. This facet helps him break lines of the opposition defenders helping to advance the attack.

Diaz, unlike traditional wingers, does not stay wide and drifts infield to help with the build-up. He has an uncanny ability to use his dribbling as a potent weapon to break out of tight spaces. Add this to the fact that he is very ambitious and aggressive as a player, often taking shots from distance and sliding smart through balls. Simply put, Brahim’s role is to unlock games.

Despite this, he is often very cautious and patient in possession and waits for the right opening to advance the attack. Often he tends to be the centre of attack and this draws defenders out of position to try and dispossess him. This helps his team-mates to run into the space vacated.

Diaz (player marked red) with his close control and dribbling pulls defender (shirt #12) from point 1 to point 2, creating space for Benzema (player marked yellow).

Another very modern-but-rare feature of Diaz is his ability to use both feet. He is seen dribbling predominantly with his left foot but takes shots using both.

Playing at Manchester City, Diaz was often encouraged to press in the youth setup as well as in the senior team as Guardiola often likes to push his opponents high up the pitch and pen them in, something we have seen Pioli try to deploy too.

With his agility, Diaz presses the player closest to him as a way of blocking off a passing lane. He tries to hound the player in possession, forcing a mistake and therefore giving the ball away. Many times Diaz is the player who initiates the press.

The only thing to be concerned about Diaz is his lack of experience in the top flight. Playing for two giant clubs, he has found playtime to be very scarce, but being around such quality groups will surely have helped his development.

Player comparison

Unfortunately, due to a lack of senior football there is no real opportunity to do the usual statistical comparison between Brahim and a current Milan player.

Instead though it would perhaps be useful to take a look at some more familiar profiles that Rossoneri supporters may know and that they can look for shades of in the Spaniard’s arrival.

After deliberation among the editorial team, we agreed that the most comparable big-name player in Serie A at the moment is Papu Gomez. Now, Brahim will have to go some way to match the ridiculous levels of offensive production from the Argentine, but there are similarities in playing style.

Both function as wingers or second strikers, tending to prefer the latter due to the fact their game is so centred around being decisive in actions. Like Papu, Diaz has a very low centre of gravity, and ability to turn on a sixpence and has an explosive initial burst of speed.

That means that he will pose the same kind of threats as Gomez and defenders will approach marking him in the same kind of way, and like Gomez he will play in a side that aims to press and play free-flowing, expansive attacking football.

Deal or no deal

Milan have secured the services of the player from Real Madrid on a dry loan with a gentleman’s agreement that they would meet later to discuss it becoming permanent.

As a back-up for Hakan Calhanoglu, Milan have found a low-risk option considering they will be playing in three competitions this season and will play over 50 games with a run in the Europa League. Given his ambidexterity and his versatile game he can play in any area of the pitch.

Brahim Diaz, in theory, seems an extremely combustible as well as technical midfielder that can add an extra dimension to Milan’s game. With teams in Serie A approaching a more defensive approach it would be handy to have a player like Diaz who knows to work his way out of corners and tight situations.

Also given how Milan have evolved under Pioli into a more pressing side, the Rossoneri head coach could use the talent of Diaz to close down players and win the ball back quickly, which suggests he could have pushed for the deal.

Milan have certainly got a talent on their hands, and possibly a future star for years to come if things go very well.

Transfer Rating: 7/10

Tags AC Milan Brahim Diaz