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Analysis: Diatta shines brightly in unfamiliar right-back slot

With AS Monaco without many key defensive players for their Ligue 1 clash with Metz, Adi Hutter opted to go for a four at the back shape, which contained Wilfried Singo, Chrislain Matsima, Ismail Jakobs and Krepin Diatta.

While three of those men are familiar with operating in true defensive roles, the latter man on that list in Diatta, who was deployed at right-back, certainly isn’t used to forming part of the last line.


While he’s played in wing-back style roles previously, operating in this position was definitely not the Senegalese international’s preferred or most comfortable post. But to his credit, Diatta rose to the occasion and emphatically vindicated his manager’s selection by putting in an excellent shift.

Flexing his muscles especially on the offensive end, which was to be expected, there was much to like about his output here within Hutter’s framework that actually catered tidily to his characteristics due to Metz being content sitting so deep.

Due to ASM enjoying the vast majority of possession, this ensured Diatta could ostensibly act as a right-winger, which ensured he could smoothly adapt his skill set in order to stamp his mark with aplomb.

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Diatta’s Heat Map

Typically operating high and wide on the right to stretch Metz horizontally and vertically, this meant he was always on hand to receive switches to be isolated against his direct opponent. Relishing every chance to drive at his opponent 1v1 with time and space, where he could use his blistering speed and silky skills to wreak havoc, the way nominal right-winger, Takumi Minamino, edged infield duly amplified the room he had to work in.

The slick timing of his upfield bursts was notable as well, for he’d pounce when his marker was caught slightly out of position or ball watching, wait for Minamino to drag his man centrally and exploit the blindside of his trackers when the ball was on the opposite flank, where he could use his dynamic advantage over his ball-facing adversary.

Sublimely timed run in behind
Superb depth run while forming a 3v2

It was also impressive how he’d vary things by rotating with Minamino to embark on some dangerous underlapping runs into the final third to take advantage of any space that arose due to the confusion associated with the interchange.

How he’d pin his marker wide also generated a disconnect within the Metz backline, thus manufacturing space for channel runs to be made into the final third.

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Causing a serious nuisance with the ball at his feet too, Diatta’s fleet feet, superb agility and wicked acceleration and top speed elevated his threat. Playing with confidence and flair, it was impressive to see him outfox and gain separation from his foes using his crafty changes of pace and direction, whirring feints and neat control to evade trouble.

Proving an elusive proposition to combat, his ball carrying had the added bonus of allowing him to draw multiple markers to free up others and rapidly gain territory vs. retreating defenders, who were wary of diving in, knowing he could punish any missteps.

The talented 24-year-old’s passing qualities were also on show, with his precision and vision ensuring he injected life into attacks with measured through balls in behind and down the channels, tidy crosses and cutbacks, incisive passes into the feet of the attackers and crisp combination play.

Crisp through ball after a slick dribble
Clever through ball
Measured through ball in behind

Very handy at creating promising openings and progressing the ball into ideal zones, his aptitude here further compounded issues for the away team.

Diatta’s Pass Map

Meanwhile, much upside could be extracted from his determined defensive contribution, for he tracked back diligently, was strong in the air, applied his interventions wisely, worked hard to support his colleagues and fulfilled his responsibilities soundly.

By the the numbers, his 60 completed passes at 90%, six progressive runs, four dribbles at 100%, four accurate passes into the box, two touches inside the box, one shot, 14 won duels, 13 ball recoveries, four interceptions, two won aerial duels and two clearances illustrated his multifaceted body of work that deservedly earned him a place in the famed L’Equipe team of the week.

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Ligue 1 Team of the Week – @ASM’s website

“I try, but everyone knows it’s not my preferred position. When it’s for the team, you have to sacrifice, you have to do it. The most important thing is not me, it’s the team. As long as I could help, in any position, I will try to do so. Even if it is not my preferred position, I will try to give the best of myself,” he explained afterwards.

Producing a terrific display and grasping his opportunity in the absence of Vanderson with both hands, Diatta will be hoping this is the catalyst for him to obtain some vital additional minutes.

With competition fierce for places all over the pitch, such a polished performance bodes well for his immediate situation, with him illustrating what an asset his versatility is.

After one of his best efforts yet in an ASM shirt and having started and played the full 90 in the last two matches, keeping an eye on how he fares will be fascinating for table-topping Monaco especially given his struggles to truly breakthrough since arriving in January of 2021.

Whatever happens, Diatta will be doing everything in his power to establish himself within this Les Monegasques side, who are riding the crest of a wave and looking formidable in their search to return to the Champions League and maybe even challenge for Ligue 1 title honours.

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