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Sensible Arsenal Transfers: Franck Kessie tactical analysis

Franck Kessie - a possible transfer to Arsenal.
Player and tactical analysis.
Franck Kessie, 24, at AC Milan, plays as a central midfielder. He has spent his career playing in a double-pivot role, including in the 4-2-3-1 system he currently plays at Milan. He is also capable of playing in a deeper role and has thrived in that role this season.
In 2015, he joined Atalanta. However, the Ivorian spent 2017-2019 on loan at San Siro, before joining on a permanent deal worth £21.6 million to Milan. He started slowly for the Rossoneri, but since the arrival of manager Stefano Pioli in the 2020/21 season, Kessie has excelled.
At 6ft tall, with his incredible upper body strength, Kessie dominates the midfield and is impossible to shrug off the ball. He is strong going into challenges and is very calm and composed on the ball - as demonstrated by his success from the spot.
In the 2020/21 season, Kessie was Milan’s 2nd highest goalscorer, scoring 13 goals, 11 of which were from penalties. But as a defensive midfielder, 13 goals in a season remains a remarkable achievement. This season, in 9 starts, Kessie has scored 2 goals - both from the spot.
His passing is one of his most eye-catching stats. In the 20/21 season, Kessie had an 89% pass success rate. This has improved - Kessie has enjoyed a 92% pass success rate this season. He is secure with the ball - having an average of 83.5% successful dribbles over 2 seasons.
This is Kessie’s touch map from last season. It is evident he played more of a box-to-box role - which explains his excellent attacking output (having a goal conversion rate of 27%). From this role, he produced 0.8 key passes per 90. He also averaged 1.2 interceptions per 90.This is Kessie’s touch map from this season, where he has taken a more defensive role. This not only shows his adaptability on the pitch but also his versatility - he is everywhere. His creativity has improved - now averaging 1.1 key passes p90. He also averages 1.4 tackles p90.Advert InsertedThis scouting report is from the 20/21 season. His passing accuracy is top quality - at any distance. His xA (expected assists) and passes into the penalty area should be higher, totalling at only 0.08 and 0.75 p90. His creativity improving would be a key addition to his game. This scouting report is from the 21/22 season. His creativity has partially improved - despite playing in a deeper role. His progressive passing has gone from 3.43 p90 to 4.15 p90. His shot-creating actions stand at 2.36 p90 - a quality statistic for a defensive midfielder. Comparing Kessie to Arsenal’s Thomas Partey and various rumoured targets of Arsenals, Partey is the most successful tackler (per 90) - closely followed by Kessie. Having these two players alongside each other in a midfield pivot would be a strong duo and very difficult to beat.
Their physical presence plays to their advantage - enjoying a good successful pressures (p90) percentage rate. Their defensive quality is further highlighted by their successful interception rate. However, comparing BG and RS is unfair as they play in more attacking roles.
From this diagram 20/21 season, it is evident Kessie is a well-rounded player, constantly involved in the build-up of goals to finishing them himself. He boasts 0.89 key passes p90, whilst also 0.36 Gp90 generating from only 1.35 Shots p90. He takes advantage of limited opportunities.
This diagram is from the current 21/22 season. Due to playing in a deeper role, his Gp90 and xGp90 has decreased, yet his creative involvement in goals this season has improved. His KPp90 has gone from 0.89 to 1.23, as has the xG from every possession Kessie has been involved in.
In short, Kessie, out of a contract in the summer, would be a good transfer for Arsenal. Defensively, he would thrive next to Partey and their physical attributes would prove to be an advantage against any side. Attacking-wise, he provides goalscoring skills when necessary. With Aubameyang misfiring and Lacazette out of a contract in the summer, Arsenal require a cool penalty taker - and Kessie has scored in 13/16 attempts over the last two seasons. Arsenal needs a definitive midfielder to partner with Partey - Kessie could bring out the best in TP5.It’s no surprise that several premier league teams, along with PSG, are interested in signing the Ivorian midfielder. Only 24, and already performing at a UCL level, Kessie has the potential to become a top midfielder in Europe.
Credits: The Heptagonal diagrams from UnderStat. Touch maps and general stats from Sofa Score. Defending Stats Comparisons and Passing percentile from StatsBomb and FBRef.