Vision, IQ and the confidence to try: Why Stalmach is a potential future midfield maestro

By SempreMilan -

Milan Primavera’s run to the final four of the UEFA Youth League has brought a number of players to prominence, and one of them is midfielder Dariusz Stalmach.

Ignazio Abate said after the 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals that picking out individuals would be unfair because of how good the collective effort was, but Stalmach certainly deserves a mention.

He scored the goal that unlocked the game after a cross from Bakoune in the 13th minute and he has been excelling in a three-man midfield. Stalmach had actually already tasted senior football when he arrived at Milan at the end of last summer’s transfer market as he had made three appearances in the Ekstraklasa for Gornik Zabrze.

The Rossoneri beat competition from Juventus and Roma to sign him and paid €1m to do so, a significant amount for a player that will only turn 18 in December. But who exactly is the ‘Polish Tonali’?

He has a number of different strengths including vision, passing and vertical ball movement, high footballing IQ and understanding of movements/space, good dribbling and being calm under pressure. ScoutCalcio has taken a look at each attribute.

Vision and passing

Stalmach’s biggest strength without a doubt is his vision and passing. He has an incredible eye for finding space and spotting team-mates running into it, possessing the passing skills to make through balls/vertical passes to unlock defences, as well as the confidence to try them.

Thanks to that, Stalmach also attacks space that he sees to get himself in dangerous positions to score or register an assist. He has shown that he can play both as a deep-lying playmaker or as a box-to-box presence, both of which are vital in a 4-3-3.

In the clip below, Stalmach receives the ball and only scans the field once due to the pressure on him, but he uses his peripheral vision to know when he is near to make that quick pass to move past the opponent and then receives the ball back to launch a through ball attempt that does not quite come off.

Thanks to his vision and understanding through scanning the pitch, he also uses his abilities when he presses a player who receives the ball. In the clip below the Juventus player looks to see Stalmach’s movement, but the moment he turns the Pole starts his pressing at full pace.


Stalmach is a very calm player under pressure meaning he does not panic, and that is why he whenever any of his team-mates get pressured he moves to be the passing outlet. In the clip below he changes his movement twice to be the passing outlet for two players.

In the next video you can see how fast he is in decision making: he instantly sees Chaka Traore starting his run into space and releases a dangerous through ball for him to put him in a 1v1 situation.

Speed, work rate and heading

Stalmach is not the fastest player, though he uses his bursts of acceleration very wisely to shut down a player receiving the ball and to start counter-attacks. You can also see his vertical play in the first clip as he takes three Dinamo Zagreb players out of the game who are pressing.

In tight space or at full speed, Dariusz has very good ball control and dribbling ability. Below, you can see him dribbling against three/four players who are very physical and are bodychecking him from behind/the side and grabbing him, yet he still gets past them to take a shot.

In the next video you can see Stalmach’s work rate. He can perfectly link up with his team-mates for 1-2 passes and he shows really good finishing skills at times, but this is something which he still has to improve since its often inconsistent.

Stalmach is also relatively good at headers. He is not aerially dominant like midfield partner Kevin Zeroli, but he wins a lot of his duels and gets the ball consistently on target, something which is very useful when he plays as a box-to-box midfielder and gets into the opposition box more.

Stalmach still has some things to work on, such as the fact he can at times be too calm in situations where he needs more urgency and this can result in him losing the ball. This is a thing he will learn the more he plays and understands how to anticipate the intensity of a player attacking him.

As mentioned, he needs to be more consistent with his finishing too because he has a great shooting technique but often he misses the target.

The rest is already very advanced though, and the most important attribute is his vision combined with a high IQ. His passing game can be refined, but the good news is that he already seems brave enough and is encourages by Ignazio Abate to take on risky passes.

Those passes are exactly the ones that make him stand out against other midfielders at this level, and they could be ones that make Stalmach a future match-winner for the senior side.

Tags AC Milan Dariusz Stalmach
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