Yunus Musah insight: Scouting report, stats, transfer rating and more

By Rohit Rajeev -

AC Milan completed their eighth signing of the summer last week as Yunus Musah joined on a five-year deal from LaLiga side Valencia.

On their official website, Milan stated that they are pleased to announce the signing of Musah on a permanent basis, with the 20-year-old having signed a contract with the club until 30 June 2028.

According to Fabrizio Romano, the transfer is worth €20m including bonuses which continues a theme seen with the signings of Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tijjani Reijnders, Noah Okafor and Samuel Chukwueze for a similar amount.

As is customary for a new signing, Musah spoke to Milan TV about the move in general and his preferred position. He also explained why he chose the number 80 and revealed that he used to joke about coming to Milan with Gennaro Gattuso.

What can Milan expect from Musah? We have analysed the 20-year-old in detail.

Back story

Musah was born in New York City while his Ghanaian mother was on vacation in the United States, with his father also being the same nationality, but he grew up in the Castelfranco Veneto region of Italy where he played for Giorgione Calcio 2000 as a child.

When he was nine, Musah and his family moved to London and he joined Arsenal’s Academy where he stood out in for his physical attributes and his determination, particularly excelling at U16 level.

Ex-Arsenal wonderkid Musah, 19, is the first American to play for Valencia and captained England's youth teams | The Sun

However, in the summer of 2019 the decision was made to leave the English capital and join Valencia where – at the age of 16 – he began with the reserve team in the Segunda División B making his debut in September of that year.

Javi Gracia became head coach in the summer of 2020 and he spent preseason with Valencia’s first team, making his LaLiga debut at 17 years and eight months in a win over Levante. In doing so, he became the first Englishman and American to debut for the club.

In November 2020 – aged 17 years and 338 days – Musah became the youngest non-Spanish player to score for Valencia with a goal in a draw against Getafe breaking the previous record held by Lee Kang-in.

He made 33, 29 and 32 league appearances respectively from the 2020-21 season onwards as a member of the first team at the Mestalla, before deciding to join the Rossoneri.

Growing up, Musah was eligible to play for the United States, Ghana, Italy, and England as an international because of his place of birth, the nationality of his parents and where he grew up.

While at Arsenal he chose England, making his debut with the U15s in 2016 and then going on to play for the Three Lions up to U18 level. He was also called up to the U19 squad in October 2020.

However, the next month he accepted a call-up from the USA to play against Wales and Panama as part of a young group that the United States Soccer Federation wanted to entrust.

Although Musah had made his senior debit for the United States, England senior manager Gareth Southgate attempted to persuade Musah to play for England.

“We’re monitoring him. He’s been with us in the last couple of months and we’d very much like his future to be with us,” he said.

Nonetheless, USMNT assistant manager Nico Estévez and manager Gregg Berhalter held frequent conversations with Musah and his family, then in March 2021 he officially declared for the USA.

Playing style

Musah’s key attributes can be summed up in a few bullet points based on the role he has played both for his club Valencia – who have struggled in recent seasons – and for his country.

1v1 and dribbling: Usually midfielders are not expected to be strong in their 1v1’s but Musah is really exceptional in terms of beating his man.

In the 2022-23 season he attempted 4.57 1v1 attempts per 90 and succeeded in 2.57 attempts, a better number than some of the wingers at Milan. He is a very strong dribbler and likes to carry the ball from defence to attack.

His dribbling skill gives him the ability to resist pressing from opponents.

High turnovers: One of Musah’s strengths is winning the ball back high up the field. Turnover refers to regaining possession near the opponents’ defensive third, which is a very effective defensive action when it comes to creating quick counters.

Given how Milan are leaning on Rafael Leao and Samuel Chukwueze down the flanks, having ball-winners can help pin the opponent back in their own half.

Even if they park the bus, a turnover near to the opponents’ goal can create an opening for a counter as players wont have time to get back in their defensive positions.


Interceptions: Musah is not a tough-tackling midfielder but his defensive side relies more on interceptions. He has the tactical understanding to position himself in the right places and intercept passes.

Playing out from the back: Whenever the opponent presses his team, Musah acts as a passing option to relieve his team-mates from the pressing of the opponent. His spacial awareness is really good as he can find space between the lines.

Victim of instability: Given the issues at Valencia, Musah has been used all over the pitch by coaches since his promotion to the first team from the U18s.

You can see that a wide variety of positions that he has played in making him sort of a utility man for the six different head coaches he has played under, which becomes eight if you include the USA.

Aerial ability: Standing at 179cm Musah is not aerially dominant and does not participate much in aerial duels.

Statistical comparison

It is quite hard to nail down a player that Musah is similar to because of all the aforementioned factors when it comes to the different roles he has been used in and the different contexts too.

However, the Renato Sanches seen at Lille looks very similar to the American in the sense that he is not a player who does a lot of tackling, but he racks up plenty interceptions and likes to dribble the ball from midfield to attack.

Musah still has a lot to improve to get to Renato’s level, particularly when it comes to using the ball once it has been recovered. When comparing the passing stats of the two, it becomes obvious where the latter excels and where the former must be refined.

What is interesting is that Milan were heavily linked with a move for the Portuguese midfielder firstly when he was at Benfica and then before he went to Paris Saint-Germain.

It could be that the mould of midfielder Sanches is and the areas he excels have long been identified as being the right complimentary piece for the midfield double pivot or trio that Pioli intended to build all along.

Looking at the FBRef per 90 percentiles which compares Musah with other central midfielders in the ‘top five’ European Leagues including the Champions League and the Europa League, there is some interesting data.

He ranks high in tackles won, % of dribblers tackled and challenges lost (lower number the better) but is among the worst when it comes top blocks, interceptions, clearances and errors.

This paints the picture of a player who is incredibly busy and attempts to do everything through individual duels rather than through patience, positioning and anticipation, making him particularly suited to being part of an organised press.

In possession, the former Arsenal academy man is proficient in take-ons attempted, the success rate of them, progressive carries of the ball (into the final third and penalty area of the opponent) and progressive passes received.

With these numbers we are starting to form the picture of a player who tries to do everything with the ball near him or at his feet, more of a busy and bustling runner in possession than someone who will release a perfect through ball.


It is extremely difficult to predict what sort of role fits Musah the best given how he has played a variety of positions. He seems good to be a box-to-box player but also could adapt himself to do well in front of the defence in a midfield trio that likes to press.

Musah needs to inculcate a bit more pressing and work rate into his style of play but the hope has to be that it will come with time and adaptability to a team with more ambition and quality.

Ultimately he has over 100 senior appearances at the age of 20 which not many players can say, and by the end of his five-year contract at Milan he still would be on the cusp of his prime years.

Transfer rating: 6.5/10



Tags AC Milan Yunus Musah


  1. Of course he can improve, but to have 100 appearances at just the age of 20 and to have stats like those is impressive.

  2. 20 million euros spent on this american talent just for that dreadful rade krunic to start over him, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up for him like it did for adli and cdk because we we have a moron as a coach who doesn’t know how to integrate young players into the squad.

  3. In other crazy stupid news, Man City have just had their £88m offer for Lucas Paqueta rejected by West Ham. Are the higher ups at Man City sniffing glue?

    1. Offering 88 million for papueta is stupid, but what’s even stupider is west ham refusing to sell him for that ridiculous price.

      1. Well, players do get overpriced in the EPL, but if that’s the value Pep sees in him; I’m not sure you can claim to know how to spot a good player better than Pep.

        When Paqueta first came, he played well under Gattuso. Then Giampaolo came and asked him to be ‘less Brazilian’ – whatever that means. At the end of the day, Pioli came and couldn’t get Paqueta playing good football.

        Perhaps if he had, Hakan would have left earlier instead for a fee. Anyway, Paqueta rediscovered his form after leaving Milan and he’s even in the Brazilian national team.

        Maybe you think he’s not that good or not worth the price, because you expect him to be Messi – I don’t know.

  4. so the litmus test is a spotty half-flopped player who could maybe be excellent if the stars align in renato sanches? …ok. i think this goes 1 of 2 ways. he’s either a diamond in the rough, or he’s pointless, let’s see what happens this season.

  5. Looks like Juventus is willing to sell Rovella. They are close to agreeing a loan with option to buy for 15-18 mil with Lazio, but Lazio wants to pay less.
    Milan needs to hijack that deal and get Rovella for the regista role

  6. Nice article Rohit as it appeals to my stats side albeit being a little rusty. There are some really interesting things that we can glean from the stats.
    However I was left wondering about the comparator being Sanches. I use Fbref alot and there’s a section below the profile that indicates players that are most similar. Seems Luca de la Torre from Celta who is also American is his closest match. I guess if you wanted a more “known” name Matheus Nunes is his 3rfld closest match and Wolves paid twice as much for him lol. I would have liked to have seen either Musah compared to the other mids we got or the ones that were already here. Or even what we lost in Tonali. That would at least brought some familiarity with the squad.

    Anyways, based on these stats it seems as a mezzala type player or a non defense dedicated mid he has amazing stats..but there’s alot of uncertainty around if he can play that holding role. If you notice in the percentile bar chart on defence, most of his tackles won percentage is in the final 3rd of the pitch as you alluded to. The tackles in the defensive third isn’t great but it’s not an area he tended to occupy at Valencia so I wouldn’t judge his ability in the defensive third on that stat. It seems he likes to tackles anyone that tries to dribble past him (% of dribblers tackled) and he doesn’t lose challenges often and wins most of them( % of dribblers tackled lost) . That’s a really good attribute if aggressive is what you’re looking for. However, quite contrarily he doesn’t challenges dribbles often though is very successful at doing so. Also however, if you notice the interception is quite poor which call into question his reading of the game (it’s why this stat reduced his int & tkl stat by a huge margin). In front of the defence this attribute is very very important. The other concern is his error rate which is one of the worst but while that could be attributed to the part of the field he operates in, it is still something to watch out for esp given that he tackles often. While his shot block is poor and is probably due to field placement, his other block types aren’t great and this would include passing blocks which is not position dependent.

    His possession stat is mixed. So while the number of times he takes on his man is high, and he’s successful in many take ons, relative to other mids his proportion.of successful take ons is quite poor (14th percentile, ouch). Not concerned with him being tackled during take ons.
    He carries the ball exceptionally well though. This is going to be his biggest attribute for the team and his ability to receive the ball in a progressive manner is good (remember I’ve been saying this was Adli’s weakness since last year). I said Deers had passing.and long shots, well carrying the ball is hopefully Musah’s best attribute but it’s going to be interesting if he plays a more defensive role – it might get stymied. It’s interesting also that he doesn’t carry often but when he does he’s quite successful and he can carry successfully for large distances. I’d say this is good judgement on his part. All in all he has attributes but there’s still uncertainty given where we expect him to play. I can see why the rating was 6.5/10.

    Anyways good stuff. Loved the analysis

    1. Im not sure if the long post i just put up got scrapped so I will make a shorter one.

      Musah played half the season under Gattuso as a high pressing 8.

      You can see his stats from that time if you go to ACMilan on reddit and type in ‘A very base level analysis of Musah under Gattuso.’

      The other half of the year he played a Winger or CM/RM who played down the line.

      This makes his defensive stats very bad. No interceptions, high tackle % but few tackles in the final third, no blocks, very little in the final third in general.

      Its not worth comparing him to a player yet until he gets to play a full season at one or at least two similar positions.

      If you watch any videos of him, you can see why his carries are so long. He gets from box to box in a matter of seconds. Just needs to work on his finishing or final ball.

      1. Kool. I’ll check out the Reddit page then

        I agree with you here and it’s what I was alluding to as well ie his position upfield would make certain stats like blocks seem very low especially when compared to those mids camped out in their own defence. This is why I think it’s going to be uncertain. And like u said until he plays there we wouldn’t know. But his current stats suits a box to box while as a DM it’s unknown 😁

        1. its imperfect but it better matches the eye test because ive seen him make some great defensive plays when he is central but i do also think hes best at timing pressure higher up the field (which should come with a 433). He is a box to box. And its alright taking it slow and playing him where he can make the biggest difference. He might be a killer as the holding. Ive seen him ping balls around very accurately and he uses his strength/speed well to beat people to the ball. but it just hasn’t been his role clearly. So I don’t think it’s worth forcing it without a fair amount of work with the coaches.

          1. Yes, up the field he’s quite the worker. Also, I’ve seen the Mexico game..that was impressive. I know he can do it, just if he can maintain discipline. I think he could try the double pivot to work his way towards a holding mid.

          2. Lol in the Reddit page they compared with Krunic. Quite funny seeing what’s happen here. They also compare to Anguissa and then himself vs Mexico and Canada. He needs to win more duels it seems but that’s something I think can easily be worked on. The reading aspect is more difficult. It’s also.hard to proxy those from stats so I’ll have to watch a few games of him lol . There goes my weekend nights

        2. I remember when Mexico used to be a rivalry….its been pretty one sided lately. Don’t watch national team games if you want to keep your sanity. There are still some positions we can’t fill with any quality yet. In offensive duels, it seems like he always beats his man in the backfield (no risky plays), but its when he gets further upfield, he is error prone. Highlights are so much more fun and shorter than full games and will give you very high expectations. I recommend.

          As I said, the data is imperfect haha. I see the comparison to Napoli’s 8 who I suppose is a strong two way player that can fill in both roles but Napoli plays such a high line and that weird box formation that really requires similar things from all of them. I hope that the plan here is to do something similar as the formation kinda sets you up for it.

  7. Looking at the stastical analysis, he’s more suited to be a box to box mid. Yes, the 3rd box to box mids we’ve signed so far. From all the new mids we signed, if (with assumption) we play ’em all at once, I think the most suitable player to get the regista role is Tijjani.

    He can sit deeper, he has the most prominent passing ability compared to the others, he can control the rhythm. Not like a Kessie’s role, but more towards Pirlo-esque role. Where he accompanied by a more aggressive and physical pairs (Ruben and Yunus). Just like Pirlo, who was covered by the likes of Gattuso and Ambrosini.

    1. Yea he’s definitely box to box right now. It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes if Pioli puts him front of defence. You brought back memories of that Milan with Pirlo. Man I miss those days.

      It’s crazy the numbers he’s putting up at his age.

  8. His defensive stats from last season and compared with Kessie from Scudetto season are same – 2.52 defensive actions per game. Musah had slightly more offensive action (7.05) than Kessie (6.49) per game. Musah also has more dribbles than passes which is another difference between them.

    I don’t really see him as our holding mid in 433 due to his lack of patience, positioning and anticipation. But if Pioli should return to 4231 and considering his stats and positioning are similar to Kessie, he could occupy one of two pivot positions.

  9. If you take a look at his heatmap on sofascore for laliga last year. He spent most of the time down the sideline high up the field. Thus his defense was not used.

    The more stats I look at, the more I see they have far more to do with the role of the player, the system of the team (possession=passes, pressing=defensive actions, etc).

    His national team played him at the 8 in a system more consistent with Milan and unfortunately the only captured stats for that are the world cup which is a small sample. Although he was top 10 in the group stage in distance covered.

  10. Awesome buy by Milan. They completely turned things around when Maldini left. Cardinale seems to really know what he is doing.

    For the first time in a long time I am truly excited for what Milan will accomplish!!

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