I am sure that all of us football enthusiasts remember the player Clarence Seedorf, the Dutch midfield maestro – who remains the only player to win three UEFA Champions League titles with three different clubs, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Ajax, to be specific. Seedorf is widely considered as one of the best midfielders of his generation. It may be a surprise to some of you that a distant relative of the great Dutchman is currently plying his trade in Scotland. Sherwin Seedorf, the 22-year-old Dutch winger currently plays for Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership and after being a player of interest in a recent data analysis piece I wrote, what better way to explore his strengths (and areas for improvement) than with a full scout report from yours truly.
In this tactical analysis, I hope to enhance your knowledge of Seedorf’s strengths and how they complement Motherwell’s tactics. As well as analysing areas of the Dutchman’s game that he needs to improve on if he wants to take the next step in his career.
Powerful and direct dribbling
When analysing the statistics of wingers in the Scottish Premiership. We can see in the graph below that Seedorf ranks highly for attempted dribbles per 90, with only Aberdeen’s Matty Kennedy attempting more. Seedorf also has a just above average success rate.
How does this correlate to his dribbles in the final third? ‘The danger area’. In the image below, we can see Seedorf’s dribbles in the final third and the result of those dribbles.
As we can see, 64 of his 94 dribbles (66.7%) result in Motherwell keeping possession, combine this with the statistic that 35 of his dribbles result in a shot, along with 11% of his 94 dribbles end up with a shot on target for Motherwell.
I bet you are wondering what it is that makes Seedorf so prolific in terms of his dribbling? You are in the right place to be educated! Seedorf is incredibly powerful and direct with his dribbling. Rather than dribbling through tight spaces and utilising deft clever touches to wriggle past an opponent, he prefers to face his defender up, slowing his dribble down drastically before exploding past his opponent and using his pace and power to full effect as he drives past.
We can see an example of this below from a recent match versus Ross County.
Seedorf feints to come inside before dragging the ball past his opponent with the right foot and continues to drive in behind as his teammate moves infield and the Ross County defender follows him. This action leaves space in behind that Seedorf is free to drive into and he is successful in winning a corner.
Here, we see another example but Seedorf is deployed on the right-hand side of Motherwell’s system.
Here we see Seedorf providing the width for Motherwell and as he receives the ball, the opposition left-back comes to press, Seedorf waits for the defender to commit before using his pace and power to drive past him down the touchline and into the space in behind (highlighted in yellow) before delivering a dangerous cross into the penalty area.
The image below shows the influence Seedorf has in Motherwell’s tactics. He frequently dribbles into the penalty area from his usual position on the left of a forward three, or as the left midfielder in a four-man midfield.
Seedorf’s ability to beat his man in a dribble is a key component of his attacking armoury and one that benefits Motherwell. He uses his pace and strength to drive past his opponent and into dangerous areas, as shown in the image above.
The tendency to cut inside and shoot from distance
Seedorf is most frequently deployed on the left-hand side of Motherwell’s attack, despite being right-footed. This leads to Seedorf frequently cutting inside either cross or shoot. We can see all of Seedorf’s shots in the 2019/20 season below.
The majority of Seedorf’s shots occur when he is cutting inside from the left onto his favoured right foot before firing away with his shot. If we analyse the image more closely, we can see that Seedorf is incredibly proficient at getting a shot on goal from the left-hand side, with very few being blocked or missing the target. Another statistic to take note of is that Seedorf’s two goals this campaign both came from shots outside of the area and towards the left. His two goals from outside from the area, have come from seven shots on target and an xG of 0.95. This would suggest that Seedorf not only takes up good shooting positions outside the area but is proficient at scoring from range.
We can see an example of this below.
As we have previously identified, Seedorf is again looking to cut inside onto his right foot. He slows his movements down as he approaches the area before exploding to his right and curling an effort towards the far corner. Unfortunately for Seedorf and Motherwell, the shot is too central and is an easy save for the Ross County goalkeeper.
If we look at the team statistics for Motherwell for shots per 90 and xG per 90. We can see that Seedorf is a key player when it comes to goal-scoring for Motherwell. Seedorf takes the highest amount of shots per 90 with 3.14. As for xG per 90, only striker Chris Long betters Seedorf.
Seedorf is one of Motherwell’s most dangerous attacking threats. We have already discovered his dribbling ability earlier in this analysis and we now know how influential he is when it comes to shooting and his goal-scoring threat. A threat which is of great benefit to Motherwell. He provides The Steelmen with a different approach and one that can trouble an opposition defence greatly.
Areas for improvement
In the 2019/20 season, Seedorf appeared in 22 matches, yet only started nine of those. He has amassed 945 minutes, with an average of 42 minutes per match. First and foremost, Seedorf should be looking to maximise his playing time, in order to reach his full potential.
One area the dutchman does need to address is his creativity. The graph below shows key passes per 90 and final third passes per 90 for all wingers and attacking midfielders in the Scottish Premiership in the 2019/20 season.
As we can see Seedorf scores below average in both areas, with only 1.52 final third passes and 0.29 key passes per 90.
This is clearly an area where the youngster needs to improve if he wants to reach his full potential.
Another aspect of Seedorf’s game that needs to improve is his over-reliance on his right foot. He has taken 38 shots in the league this season and 33% of them have been with his right foot. Whilst this is not a massive problem. What it does is make Seedorf predictable. He receives the ball wide, drives down the touchline before cutting back inside onto his right foot to shoot or cross. Opposition defenders will be aware of this and if Seedorf is able to incorporate a bit more variety in his attacking patterns, he will be much more successful and a more potent attacking weapon.
Here we see an example of Seedorf wanting to cut inside and the defender being wise to his intentions and stepping in to dispossess Seedorf.
Seedorf was being shown down the touchline and into the yellow shaded area, where he could have used his pace to get himself a yard of space to put a dangerous cross into the penalty area. Instead, his reliance on his right foot brought him inside into a congested area and resulted in a loss of possession.
Defenders are always anticipating the cut inside from Seedorf when he is in and around the area. Seedorf would benefit massively if he could use the Covid-19 break and the summer before next season adding an element of surprise to his game. It will surely pay off in the long run.
The ex-Wolves man Seedorf is still only 22-years-old and looks to have a bright future ahead of him. His pace and direct dribbling are similar in style to that of current Wolves man Adama Traoré. Seedorf’s ability to take his man on is commendable. As is his ability to get shots on target, particularly from range.
All footballers have areas that they need to improve on, perhaps except for Lionel Messi. Seedorf is no different. He needs to force his way into the first 11 on a regular basis. Just nine league starts from 22 appearances is not good enough if he wants to prove himself on a world stage. His instinct to use his right foot can be corrected with work on the training ground. Seedorf has the potential to be a great player in years to come, he may never get to the level of ‘the other Seedorf’ but Sherwin Seedorf could become famous world-wide in his own right, one day.