Osame Sahraoui – Player Report

Osame Sahraoui is one of the next hot prospects coming from the Eliteserien. The 20-year old winger/midfielder played for Hauketo, in the outskirts of Oslo, as a kid before getting picked up by the biggest club in the capital of Norway, Vålerenga IF, in 2014. Sahraoui climbed his way up in the ranks of Valerenga’s youth academy and made his debut for the first team in June of 2020 against Stabaek. The youngster came on the pitch after 62 minutes as his team was down 1-2. Just 10 minutes later Sahraoui took a great touch in the box and had a chance to shoot, but he was shoved from behind which resulted in a penalty for his team.

Thirteen months later Osame Sahraoui is an important player in Dag-Eilev Fagermo’s Valerenga IF. The Norwegian with Moroccon roots played 40 matches in the Eliteserien in which he scored six times and managed to give 9 assists. Sahraoui trained with the Moroccon U18 and U20 teams, but told the press that he would be think about representing Norway if he got the chance.

After his breakthrough in the starting XI he signed a new deal keeping him to the club until the 31st of December 2023. Earlier this year some Belgian media reported that Club Brugge had Sahraoui on their radar. In Brugge he could be the replacement of Noa Lang on the left, who might leave the club after a fantastic season.

Osame Sahraoui celebrating

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Norwegian/Moroccan
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 11/06/2001
  • Current Club: Vålerenga IF
  • Career: Hauketo, Vålerenga IF
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Secondary Position: Left Wing / Attacking Midfield / Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Physical

Standing at just 5’7” Osame Sahraoui is quite a lightweight on the pitch. He lacks some muscle mass, but makes up a lot with his great balance, agility and smart usage of his body. When it comes to a fair shoulder to shoulder duel Sahraoui doesn’t have a lot of success, but he always tries to be one step ahead of his direct opponent. The 20-year old is very agile on the ball with a low centre of gravity and can easily change direction whilst not having to slow down a lot, making him very dangerous in 1v1 duels. He seems quite fast on the first few meters, also being able to accelerate very fast with the ball at his feet. Sahraoui doesn’t get himself in aerial duels often. Averaging just 1.63 aerial duels per game with a win rate of 16,4%, which isn’t a surprise for a player with his height.

Technical

Technically is where Osame Sahraoui absolutely stands out. He is a very entertaining player to watch and keeps surprising me every game. Sahraoui is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and stays very calm under pressure. He has a solid first touch and can easily turn either direction at high speed when he gets pressed by an opponent from behind. The young midfielder does excellent in very small spaces, because of his technique and great awareness of the opponents around him. He is right footed, but also looks very comfortable dribbling with his left foot.

Despite dribbling quite often and trying to take on his opponents, Sahraoui rarely loses the ball for his team. He shields the ball very well and is hard to get off the ball with his great agility and balance. He keeps the ball very close at his feet and creates a lot of danger with his progressive runs. Sahraoui averages 4,7 progressive runs per game this season, which ranks him 2nd in the league. As central midfielder he often roams out wide on the left to collect the ball and then cuts inside looking for a pass.

Besides being a very good dribbler, Osame Sahraoui is also a very good passer. This season he averages a passing completion of 81,4% with 11,45 progressive passes per game. Sahraoui has an excellent passing range and often plays elegant switches from the left to the right side of the pitch. His great passing combined with great awareness and vision creates a lot of danger for Valerenga. He often cuts inside from the left and plays lovely chipped passes over the opponents towards the attackers. In the video below of his assist against Lillestrom all of his qualities combine nicely together. A quick change of direction, some good acceleration followed by a lovely weak-foot pass towards striker Udahl who smartly let the ball go to Donnum.

Sahraoui’s lovely assist against Lillestrom

This assist against Lilletsrom was his only assist this season, but I have to say that he has been very unlucky to not get more. He plays a lot of dangerous passes in the box and his xA is already up to 3.13 for this season. Sahraoui’s short passing overall is great. He often tries one-touch passes, which sometimes are a little sloppy. In comparison to last season I feel like he chooses the simpler option more often instead of trying to do too much. Although his decision making is still an area in which he can improve. He likes to have the ball at his feet, but needs to be careful not to slow down the tempo too much when dribbling.

Osame Sahraoui's shot map in 2021
Osame Sahraoui’s shot map of the last calendar year

Osame Sahraoui isn’t a player that shoots very often, with only 1.3 shots on target per game this season. His can be really dangerous from just outside of the box, but lacks a bit of consistency in his shooting. Last season he was underperforming slightly if you compare his three goals to an xG of 3.57. This year he scored once with an xG of 1.7. He has quite a bit of shot power, but lacks some precision when he uses his laces instead of the inside of his foot.

Sahraoui against Bodo/Glimt this season

Tactical

Osame Sahraoui mainly played out on the left for Valerenga last season, but with midfielders Shala and Lekven leaving the club and left winger Amor Layouni joining, he has been playing more as the left central midfielder. On Twitter Sahraoui told me he likes both positions, but feels like he has more impact in the centre preferably as a pure number 10. Sadly Dag-Eilev Fagermo’s Valerenga doesn’t play with a 10, which would be his ideal position in my eyes also.

Valerenga's XI in 2021
Valerenga’s XI in 2021 with Aron Donnum who recently left for Standard Liege

Valerenga’s full backs Adekugbe and Borchgrevink often play very offensively. When Valerenga has the ball out on the wing Adekugbe, Sahraoui and Layouni often look to make a triangle, with Sahraoui as the widest player and Adekugbe underlapping. Sahraoui plays in a pretty offensive role playing very close to the front three in possession. Off the ball the 20-year old often goes out wide or tries to find space between the lines, however I feel like he could be a little more involved. Sahraoui covers a lot of ground without the ball and often pops up in his opponents box.

Defending is not Sahraoui’s strongest suit. The youngster puts a lot of aggression in his duels throwing his whole body in there, but he simply some strength making it easy for stronger opponents to keep him away from the ball. In the UEFA Europa Conference League matches against AA Gent he struggled quite a bit against Odjidja-Ofoe, who easily outmuscled Sahraoui a couple of times.

Off the ball he tries to position himself close to the defensive midfielder Jensen, trying to press forward whenever he says the opportunity to. Most games Valerenga play a very high defensive line and put a lot of pressure on their opponents, with Sahraoui and Bjordal both doing a lot of work. Because of this the spaces on their own half are often very big, which make them vulnerable counter attacks. Sahraoui works very hard defensively he tracks back well and keeps the pitch compact when the opponents have the ball on the other side of the pitch. He has some troubles with tracking midfielders who make a run in behind and needs to focus on his surroundings off the ball a bit more.

Psychological

Sahraoui always seems to be calm on the ball, no matter how small the spaces are. He looks very confident in the dribbles he makes which are sometimes quite risky, but he retains the ball very well for his team. Last season I found that he often could overcomplicated things, whereas this year he chooses the simpler option a bit more trying to be as effective as possible. Sahraoui works quite hard offensively and defensively, but I feel like he could be a little more involved when his team is in possession.

Conclusion

Osame Sahraoui is a very exciting and entertaining player to watch. With the ball at his feet he is very hard to stop and with his quick feet he dominates small spaces. He creates a lot of dangerous situations with his passes behind the opponents defence and has great overall awareness. Of course he lacks strength, but as a number 10 or on the left I could see him make a nice step up in the future. I feel like the Dutch Eredivisie could be a very nice league for him to further develop himself after this season.

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