After selling Jonathan David to Ligue 1 side Lille last summer for €30 million, Gent proceeded to dip into the transfer market to try and fill the goals that David left behind. Osman Bukari and Tim Kleindienst came in, as well as Laurent Depoitre still being at the club along with Roman Yaremchuk. The latter of these two has always been a valuable asset for Gent, and has become the number one source of goals for the Belgian’s this season. With already 9 goals and 3 assists to his name in the league this season, he looks likely to crush his previous season high of 10. These performances this season have attracted the interest of a few clubs, with it becoming increasingly difficult for Gent to hold onto their number one striker. This following scout report and tactical analysis will analyse Yaremchuk’s abilities as a centre-forward, and what makes him excel.
As the heat map above shows, Yaremchuk likes to operate anywhere across the attacking third, and as this analysis will describe later, how he operates in these spaces. While he will get involved inside the 18-yard box, Yaremchuk is much more of a striker who likes to drop into the pockets of space in the midfield and hold up play. He also will roam across the front line, but normally lines up as the second striker in Gent’s 3-5-2 formation alongside either Osman Bukari or Laurent Depoitre. He also operated in this position when David was still at Gent, and he would also play as a sole striker with David in behind in a #10 position. So, while the tactics that Gent used have not changed with the departure of David to France, Yaremchuk’s style of play has altered slightly this season.
Dropping deep to link-up play
One of the most common things that Yaremchuk will do when possession turns over is drop into the pockets of space in midfield. He is very much a physical striker, and excels at holding the ball up and allowing his teammates to run beyond him. These positions that he finds himself in, between the opponent’s defensive lines, also allows him to link-up the play to his teammates, almost like a creative midfielder. The following few examples will show this quality that Yaremchuk possess in more detail.
Above is a prime example of Yaremchuk dropping deep to get more involved in the build-up play. Wassland-Beveren are sitting in two deep defensive blocks, and the Gent player in possession has no forward passing option to pass to. Yaremchuk notices this and retreats from his striker position into the space between the two opposition lines. This allows a passing option for the Gent player to pass to, and frees up space for the other players to move into in behind. This phase of play is able to create a scoring opportunity for Gent, and it comes about from the smart movement of Yaremchuk.
Here is another example of what happens when Yaremchuk drops deeper to receive possession of the ball. In this phase of play, Yaremchuk drops into midfield, and is able to drag two defenders out of position to come and close him down. This allows the space to open up in behind the defence. The other Gent player notices this space opening up and is able to make a dangerous run into the space. Yaremchuk’s stellar hold-up play is also put into effect here, as when he receives possession he is able to hold off both opposition players while his teammates are able to make runs past him. He is then able to find the space to turn and pick a pass to a teammate and continue the play going forward.
Ability to make good runs in behind
While Yaremchuk does excel at dropping into the pockets of space in the midfield, he also is very good at making dangerous runs in behind the defence when space opens up. He makes a variety of runs as well, which is one reason why his heat map is covered all across the attacking third. Yaremchuk will make basic runs in behind, inside to outside runs, and outside to inside runs. He also will make runs from deeper positions in the midfield as well if he notices the space open up.
Above is an example of these smart runs that Yaremchuk is able to make in behind the defence. Gent are on the counter attack, and the ball is in a dangerous position on the edge of the 18-yard box. Both defenders in this scenario are caught ball watching, and this allows the space to open up for Yaremchuk to run into. He started this run from a deeper position, and this allowed more time for the situation to develop. This phase of play also results in a goal for Gent, (scored by Yaremchuk), which came about due to his smart movements in and around the 18-yard box.
As mentioned earlier, Yaremchuk will make different types of runs in behind depending on the situation he finds himself in. This is one of those scenarios. Gent’s fullback is in possession ball looking for an outlet pass. The Cercle Brugge full back steps up to try and press the Gent player, which opens up space down the left flank. Yaremchuk knows that the centre of the pitch is tightly compacted, and that a run in behind is impossible. Noticing that the space opens up down the left, Yaremchuk make an inside to outside bending run in behind the opposition defence. This gives the Gent player in possession a player to pass through, and also helps to start a dangerous attacking phase for Gent. This smart movement by Yaremchuk allows him to make the space for his teammates to pass into.
Another thing that Yaremchuk will do is make runs from deeper positions. In this phase of play, Gent are on the counter, and Yaremchuk is bombing forward after being in the midfield linking up play. Yaremchuk is afforded space to run into, and is able to continue his run in behind the defence into the 18-yard box. Both opposition defenders (circled in yellow), are caught ball-watching, which allows the space for Yaremchuk to run into. He is able to use a burst of acceleration to get past the opposition midfielder that is closing him down, and run onto the ball that is played by the Gent player. This is able to result in another very good chance for Gent, and it is a direct result of Yaremchuk’s smart movements. While he excels at dropping deep into pockets to link-up play and get involved, he also excels at making smart runs in behind to create dangerous moments for Gent as well. Along with his finishing ability, (discussed next), his ability to drop into pockets of space to link-up play, and make runs in behind, show why Yaremchuk is such a complete striker.
Consistency in front of goal
Finally, all big clubs in world football want strikers who are consistent in front of net. While Yaremchuk does not score 15+ goals every season, he is consistent with how many he has scored each season for Gent so far. 2017/18 he finished the season with 9 goals, 2018/19 with 8 goals, 2019/20 with 10 goals, and so far, this season he has 9 goals. While he is very consistent with how many goals he scores per season, Yaremchuk also has consistency in his finishing ability in front of net. Following are some examples of his finishing, and the composure that he shows in and around the 18-yard box.
In this phase of play above, Yaremchuk is on the edge of the opposition’s 18-yard box. He is getting closed down by two opposition defenders, but is still able to stay cool and collected in front of goal. Even with the two defenders pressing him, Yaremchuk is able to place his ensuing shot into the far corner past the goalkeeper. This composure that he shows in front of net is one reason why his goal tallies every season hover around the same mark. He is not afraid to shoot through a tight window, and has the composure when getting closed down by opposition defenders.
Above shows another example of his composure that he shows in front of goal. In this phase of play, Gent started a counter attack after regaining possession in the midfield. Yaremchuk is able to find space right on the edge of the 18-yard box. the defender (circled in yellow), is attempting to close down Yaremchuk as he attempts to take a shot. Yaremchuk notices that the goalkeeper is leaving space at his near post and decides to take on a shot. He is able to perfectly place his shot at the near post, and the goalkeeper is not able to get down fast enough to attempt a save. Along with his composure in front of goal, Roman Yaremchuk is also able to place his shots, which bodes well for his future as a clinical centre-forward.
This phase of play above is also able to show the close control that Yaremchuk has inside the box. He is able to drive into the box with the ball at his feet, and send the defender packing as well. This opens up the space which allows him to shoot into a tight window. He is able to fire his shot past the goalkeeper and the far post and score his second goal of this particular match. For someone who is a pretty tall striker (6’3”), he is good at navigating through tight spaces and still able to take the shot on. Roman Yaremchuk has the ability to be a clinical striker, and this may be the season where he is able to score 15+ goals for the Belgian side. Whether inside the 18-yard box or just outside of it, he is able to find space consistently and consistently be a threat in front of goal.
At only 25-years of age, Roman Yaremchuk still has room to be able to grow into a more complete striker. While his name did not come up much in transfer rumours with Jonathan David being the prized asset at the time, he is now starting to thrive as the main striker in this Gent side, and is starting to attract interest from clubs around Europe. While no clubs the size of Bayern Munich, PSG, or Barcelona are interested in his services at this time, if his form continues throughout the season like it has, it would be no surprise if clubs of this stature would be chasing his signature.