While they were unable to repeat their Champions League antics of the 2018/19 campaign, the 2019/20 campaign should be considered a success for Ajax. They retained their Eredivisie crown even though the season was concluded prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The departure of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt has been felt visibly but some of the players from that memorable campaign.
Promes was signed from La Liga side Sevilla and was the club’s first summer signings last year. And while his career never reached the dizzying heights it promised when he was a hot prospect at FC Twente, it does feel like that Promes might be getting closer to becoming the player he always promised to be.
In 28 games in all competitions, Promes scored 16 goals and provided five assists.
His performances in Amsterdam have led to rumors of a move to Arsenal and this tactical analysis seeks to find out if Promes can actually help the Gunners in their offensive travails next season.
So in this data analysis, we’re going to assess whether the Dutchman has the tools necessary to cut it in England or not.
A flair player
The 27-year-old is definitely a unique talent. Promes has a very eye-catching way of going about his business on the football pitch. He has great control on the ball and also makes really good runs off the ball.
While having flair is a great asset, this data analysis on Promes suggests that the player has an uncanny ability to not only dribble past his opponents with minimum fuss, but also the intelligence to whip in delightful crosses and creating goalscoring opportunities for his teammates.
His best position
When we run a tactical analysis of a player like Promes who has the tendency to run along the flanks, we often see a few hot spots. However, the story of Promes’ evolution is quite unique in a sense that the Dutchman had to alter his game quite a lot during his time at Seville.
With the Spanish outfit, Promes was primarily used as a left/right wing-back. Playing in a role where his best qualities were not put to good use, limited the winger’s ability to impact games like he normally can.
At Ajax however, things turned out differently!
Promes was used primarily as a left-sided winger and excelled in the role. In 20 appearances in the Eredivisie, Promes played 13 times down the left flanks and scored nine goals and provided three assists.
Due to his pace, excellent dribbling skills and ability to hold on to the ball for just a little while longer, Promes is able to go deep inside the enemy territory which gives his teammates enough time to get into the right positions. As the example above shows, Promes is able to take the ball deep inside the opposition territory and holds on to it before a teammate gets himself in the right position to receive the pass.
If we take a look at the player’s heat map, it becomes clear that Promes is one of those wingers who love to cut inside and offer teammates something different in the final third. The Dutchman has the ability to cut inside and either go for a shot or provide a pass which makes him a great option to have in the squad.
A trigger friendly winger
Based on our tactical analysis, Promes is a player who is always eager to test the goalkeeper. This season, Promes took a total of 87 shots, out of which 45 found the target. With a goal conversion rate of 19.5(%), the winger is clearly a player who offers something extra.
Throughout his career, Promes has established a reputation of a winger who likes to remain in the thick of things – an attribute that is backed up well by his ability to get inside the box and give himself more options in front of him.
In this image, Promes has the option to pass the ball to a teammate. But the winger is very confident about going all the way and decides to go on his own.
Since he has a good shot on him, Promes likes to test the goalkeepers as well. Promes decides to test the goalkeeper and the decision pays off with the ball ending up in the back of the net. This particular attribute comes in very handy when he doesn’t have many options to go for.
As the image below shows, Promes is a potentially deadly forward when inside the penalty area where his goal conversion stands at 28.3%.
As this particular statistic showcases, Promes has a tendency to get inside the penalty area and test out the goalkeeper. The winger’s shot map seems to suggest that while he might not be a uniquely high scoring player, the fact that he comes to life inside the penalty area makes him a valuable asset to the team.
Last season, Promes boasted a 41.7% goal conversion rate after crosses which is a clear sign of a player who is good at reading situations during an attacking move. Promes’s involvement directly or indirectly resulted in five goals after crosses.
As a winger, Promes’ main asset is his ability to dribble past his opponents and then create a scoring opportunity. In the Eredivisie last season, the Dutchman averaged 10.95 passes per 90 minutes which is above average in the league.
The tactical analysis further concludes that Promes is an attack-minded winger and thrives when given the freedom to play his natural game. That helped his team a lot this season as Promes ended up boasting a league high forward passing accuracy of 86.46%.
That all sounds good but how does it help the team?
Well, Promes’ second assists per 90 minutes score of 0.29 is also a league high. In fact, it is better than that of Steven Bergwijn who left halfway through the season to sign for Tottenham.
In a similar vein, Promes has been largely successful when it comes to providing accurate progressive passes. This season, the Dutchman boasted an accurate progressive passes percentage of 87.50 which is the third best in the league.
A habitual dribbler
Throughout his career, Promes has made a name for himself for being a habitual dribbler. The 2019/20 Eredivisie campaign was no different. The 28-year-old attempted 99 dribbles and kept possession 68 times during many of these flair moments.
During most of these actions, the main victims have primarily been right-backs. Out of 37 attempted dribbles, Promes managed to successfully complete 27 dribbles when facing a right-back. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t good at running rings around centre-backs.
On the contrary, Promes was able to successfully complete 68% of his dribbles against central defenders which is a very good number for a winger. This particular statistic also indicates that Promes can more than hold his own if placed in a central role.
Similarly, Promes’ overall passing range allows him to seek out teammates in tight paces. This can be seen in Erdeivisie’s deep completions per 90 minutes statistics from last season. Promes averaged 3.71 deep completions per 90 minutes which is the third best in the league.
If we look at the aforementioned statistic at a deeper level, it becomes quite evident that Promes comes to life as soon as he gets near the edge of the penalty area. Similarly, the Dutchman proved himself to be quite an accomplished dribbler every time he found space in the central area of the final third.
However, only two of his dribbles resulted in a goal which means that the experienced winger would need to work on his composure a little.
Can Promes cut it in England?
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the main themes in Promes’ overall gameplay in the Eredivisie, let’s move on to the next part of this tactical analysis.
At present, Arsenal are reportedly linked with a move for the Dutch international. The Gunners would definitely love to have more firepower in the attacking third and on the surface, it does make a lot of sense to have a player like Promes in the squad.
In order to get a better understanding of how left wingers performed in the EPL last season, we’re going to do a comparative tactical analysis of players playing in a similar position. We will limit the data to only those players who have played at least 900 minutes in the English Premier League last season (excluding players from relegated teams but including players from newly-promoted sides).
The average dribble success rate (%) in the Premier League is 53.17 while that of the Eredivise from last season is 50.43. Promes however, boasts an average dribble success rate of 46.27 which means that he might struggle to make a nuisance of himself when up against tougher right backs and central defenders in the Premier League.
However, due to his forward-thinking approach, Promes more than makes up for his low dribble success rate.
The average final third pass success rate in England last season was 66.95% while that of the Eredivisie was 64.38%.
Promes boasted a final third pass success rate of 84.62% which is great in any league. While he may not be able to really take the game to full-backs or central defenders as consistently, he might be able to provide those killer passes that Mikel Arteta may find very useful.
The above statistics clearly show that Promes can more than hold in the Premier League due to his attacking approach to the game and the ability to read situations well.
Another ability that Promes has is when it comes to making the right calls when inside the penalty area. The Dutchman was the fourth-best player in the league last season when it comes to putting in passes in the penalty area per 90 minutes, averaging 4.56.
In this example, Promes steals the ball from an opponent, quickly turns and moves the ball further up the pitch before passing it to a teammate in front of him. Rather than trying to release the ball quickly, the experienced winger prefers to cover a bit of the ground first in order to give himself a chance of creating a better opening.
Another very interesting statistic about Promes from last season was that he averaged only 1.2 long passes per 90 minutes which is a great indicator of how he wants to play the game and what particular teams he would thrive in.
Arsenal and the left flank
The current top contenders for a place in the left wing at Arsenal are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka with the latter primarily used as a left back. The youngster played seven games as a left winger for the Gunners this season and though showed a lot of intent going forward, it is clear that he will eventually settle in as a full back.
As the heat map shows, Aubameyang prefers playing as a left winger where he is at his productive best, cutting inside and creating scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
With Promes in the team, the Gabon international could potentially be moved as a center forward. In this role, the former Borussia Dortmund man has done equally well, scoring seven goals and providing one assists.
With Nicolas Pepe struggling to get used to a new league last season after moving from Lille, both Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were devoid of service from the right flank. However, with rumors linking Lacazette with a move to Spain, we might see Aubameyang being permanently shifted as a center forward – provided if he signs an extension and stays this summer.
With Promes around, the Gabon striker would get a lot of opportunities to carry on with his free-scoring ways.
However, the tactical analysis needs to include the performance of left wingers from the previous season in order to assess if Promes has what it takes to do well in England.
At the age of 28, Promes is more than ready for the next chapter in his playing career. After showing a lot of promise in Russia, Spain and then in the Netherlands, the time is right for the Dutch winger to test himself in the Premier League.
The analysis sought to highlight Promes’ strengths and weaknesses but also hints at tactics that may help him thrive in the Premier League.
Arsenal have been linked with a move for the mercurial winger and it does make sense given the fact that the Gunners need players who are able to create certain situations that can put the team on the front foot in crucial moments of the game.
Moreover, the Gunners do need a good option down the flanks and the fact that Promes is an intelligent reader of the game, he might be exactly what Arteta needs to make his team deadlier in the final third.
And at a reasonable price of 25 million Euros, the Gunners won’t have to dig deep for this transfer either.