Adam Hložek – Player Report

Adam Hložek is an 18 year old striker who is already a senior international for the Czech Republic. Despite being slightly disrupted by a foot injury, he’s had a great season and is catching the attention of many clubs from top divisions. He currently had 8 goals and 7 assists in the league and contributes 0.66 expected goals and assists per 90 minutes. Hložek been closely linked with a move to West Ham as they continue their Czech Republic recruitment and Bayern Munich and Liverpool are also apparently close admirers.

Player profile

  • Nationality: Czech
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 25/07/2002
  • Current Club: Sparta Prague
  • Position: Centre Forward
  • Preferred foot: Right

Physical

Hložek has a strong physical profile. He’s got a good build and frame, standing at 6’1″. He looks athletic and is slightly lightweight, but at just 18 there is a lot of time to build muscle. At the moment, he shows okay strength but isn’t very dominant physically but has the tools to really develop in this area and would benefit from strengthening his core a lot. His jumping isn’t great is something to work on, but I think developing his overall strength will help with this as he can struggle to assert himself in physical duels and therefore can’t get up to compete very well.

He’s light on his feet and is a powerful runner with good changes of speed. He’s an elegant runner with big strides, able to keep this up over distances, making him good on the counter. He was also able to maintain good speed with the ball at his feet. Also, the young forward works hard to press high up the pitch out of possession.

Technical

Hložek is right footed and comfortable technically. He received the ball well when not under physical pressure, able to control high balls and receive on the back foot effectively. He doesn’t take dead touches and uses his touch to set up his next action effectively or to evade pressure. He has quick decision making and knows what he’s going to do before he receives. However, with his back to goal and with a defender into his back, he can struggle with the physicality and took a few heavier touches.

The young forward doesn’t tend to receive with his back to goal much though, completing 11.9 passes per 90 this season at 75% accuracy. So while his passing is good and is very effective on the counter, he didn’t show much holdup or link up play and isn’t involved in tight combinations and passing between the lines. A few times he did drop deep to receive the ball once the defence won possession and then spread it wide, very similar to how Harry Kane does for Spurs. His passing technique was good and he made good decisions consistently. He’s very calm on the ball and in the final third. On the counter, he was able to create chances, often finding players on the edge of the box. He’s an unselfish player also, getting assists when he could have taken lower value shots himself in the box. If he received in wide areas, he also showed he was capable of good low crosses.

When 1v1 he was calm and assertive, he was in control of this situation and protected the ball effectively. He didn’t look to go directly past his man, but he was able to create space well and find inside passes into dangerous areas. He had good control, was comfortable carrying at the defence and was able to carry at speed. He was very right footed though and avoided using his left, this wasn’t a problem though and didn’t hinder his game, but is something to develop as it will give him even more options.

Source: WyScout

Above you can see his shot map showing his last 75 shots in the league. While I think he has great composure with the ball at his feet in the final third and 1v1, his shooting can be a bit rash. He can rush his shots at times and not challenge the goalkeeper enough from good positions. He can lean back too much and send shots over the bar and snatch at shots. He tends to use the inside of his foot a lot instead of laces and at times having to open up to hit with the inside of his boot looked uncomfortable and awkward. This season he’s scored 8 goals in the league from 5.7 expected goals so I can’t be very critical of his shooting, but I think that there are some small tweaks to make to make him even better and a lethal finisher with better decision making over his type of finish. When he does use his laces though he can be an excellent ball-striker and generate a lot of power but there are areas of his finishing which could be improved.

At times he did well to create a yard for a shot but this could be more effective and could feint more to really sell it. Also, while I criticise his left foot, which he avoids using when dribbling and passing, he is comfortable shooting with it. Of his last 20 goals, 4 came with his left, 10 with his right and 6 with his head.

Tactical

This is where Hložek really stands out and is a huge indication of his high potential. He is very active and intentional with his positioning and movement. In the box, he is very active and never static with good instincts. He positions himself in the defender’s blindspot and looks to make sharp runs across him and showed good timing with his runs and I only saw one example where I thought he made the wrong run. He tries to find and create space for himself and doesn’t allow himself to be marked easily and constantly looks to adjust his position. Hložek is able to drift effectively and find space in tough situations, in a similar way to Thomas Müller. When attacking the box he will often hang off the defence, so if they’re on the 6 yard line, he might sit off on the penalty area, looking to receive in space and get quick shots off, or make sharp unmarked runs ahead of defenders.

He also did well to recognise space in the defensive line in midfield and made effective runs in behind and showed good timing to hold his run and stay onside. He ran the channels effectively and always wanted to make runs ahead of the ball. He didn’t tend to look to receive between the lines much but did drop off of the defensive line at times to create confusion, find space and then make forward runs so that it was hard for the defence to pick him up. He didn’t just allow himself to be marked easily and at just 18 showed very good instincts and intelligence.

Here are two examples of good positioning in the box. In this left image you can see him hanging back in space while the other attacker makes a run from the back post across the two defenders, causing chaos and allowing Hložek to remain unmarked. In the second imagine, he’s just past the penalty spot and floats to the back post unmarked to score a header. Both of these examples are hard to show in still images but hopefully it shows what I mean somewhat.

As stated above, he worked hard to press high and won the ball high up several times. He was intelligent with his pressing though, able to force the opposition backwards. He used smart runs and good timing to disrupt the opposition and looked to hold his runs slightly to tempt the pass across so that he could intercept rather than just cutting off the pass completely.

Psychological

Following on from above, Hložek looks like a very intelligent player. He showed great movement in the box and is able to drift and find space really well to create shooting opportunities for himself and also to get into good positions to create. He is very aware and shows great concentration to be constantly adjusting to play and not being static. His decision making with his movement and on the ball was very good, and was particularly effective on the counter. He showed some aggression with his pressing but wasn’t assertive enough in loose and physical duels, but I think this will come with time as he becomes more physical and he is able to battle more. He shows great composure in the final third as well as awareness and vision to make good decisions and was very calm 1v1 and in control of the situation.

Data

Above you can see his profile from Analytics FC’s TransferLab platform. As you can see, he’s already an excellent player for the Czech league and is more than ready for the next step. There’s not too much to say about this as you can see his quality. TransferLab thinks that the Premier League players he’s the most similar to are Ollie Watkins, Richarlison and Harry Kane.

Above you can see some scatters showing U21 strikers from the Top 5 Leagues and Hložek. You’ll notice his proximity to Haaland in each one which is always a good sign. Hložek gets a lot of touches in the box, which is a result of his excellent positioning and movement, as is his high number of shots. You can also see that he completes a below average amount of passes, he isn’t that involved in their overall play, but he is able to create a lot of high quality chances and he’s very efficient with the ball.

Conclusion

Overall, I was extremely impressed by Hložek and he’s definitely got a big future ahead of him. He’s only 18 but has adapted to senior football really well. He’s a centre forward who can score and create, which is a rare skillset and is very intelligent so I think that his skillset is going to transfer up the leagues effectively. Hložek is calm and mature so I would say that he’s definitely ready for a step up. He just needs to work on his core strength and physicality, as well as his weak foot. He could look to develop his holdup game and become a more effective target man and play with his back to goal more but this isn’t a necessity. He is also quite versatile and has spent a decent amount of time on either wing and could even be used as a 10. But I think that his future is that of a striker and that’s where he’ll be most effective, but could be a direct winger in the right system.

His contract with Sparta Prague is out next summer, meaning that someone is going to get a bargain and a very high calibre of player. It also means that where he goes will be completely his choice but I’d imagine he’ll be on the move this summer. While I think that he will likely end up playing for one of Europe’s top clubs, it would be best for him to carry on getting minutes and don’t move to an elite club like Bayern straight away. With their Czech connection, I think that West Ham could be a very good option. Spending another season in the Czech Republic to develop his physicality could be a good option but I do think he’s ready for a bigger challenge.

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