Tyrell Malacia by Jack Dixon

July 4th, 2022 | Football

Manchester United have completed the signing of Dutch international Tyrell Malacia. The 22-year-old left-back has only ever previously featured for Dutch giants Feyenoord and his national team.

Malacia has impressed over the last couple of years at Feyenoord, getting into the Netherlands set-up under former Manchester United manager Louie van Gaal. Malacia has five senior caps to his name, with his debut coming in September of last year. In youth football Malacia has consistently impressed the Dutch set-up with 34 youth caps at various levels to his name. I’m not going to pretend I’ve known about this player for a long time, but I’ve now watched many clips of him and watched his entire 88-minute contribution in Feyenoord’s recent 1-0 loss to Roma in the UEFA Conference League final. So, in this article I’m going to try and explain what kind of player he is, his strengths and what Erik Ten Hag is likely to want from his player.

Tyrell Malacia is what I’d describe as the modern fullback. He’s got great energy, stamina and is extremely comfortable on the ball. The two big things I noticed from watching him is his composure and decision making and I was extremely impressed.

Defensively Malacia is solid. He defends with patience, not often diving in or committing himself until he truly believes the ball is there to be won. He remains calm when defending and is what I’d describe, both in and out of possession, as a Rolls Royce. He makes his job look easy, which is always a sign of a good player. He’s always looking around for where the danger is. I’ve noticed Malacia looks to read and intercept the danger, rather than going to challenge it and potentially leaving space. Malacia is always looking around, so often knows where opponent players are, meaning he’s less likely to get caught out both with and without the ball.

Offensively, Malacia has great variety. His positioning in the final-third will often be down to the position of his teammates. If he has teammates in the wide positions, he will pick up a very central inverted position. If he has teammates occupying the central areas, he’ll hold the width. Malacia always seems to find space and is always ready to receive the ball, and without the ball is both continuously searching for space and is seen pointing to teammates where to pass it, which perhaps shows early signs of leadership and football intelligence. He barely gives the ball away, which Erik Ten Hag will like.

When Malacia has the ball in the final-third he’s a threat. He’s shown he’s got great technique when shooting from outside the box, however he may not get many opportunities in these areas. His crossing is what impresses me – he always has his head up when looking to cross the ball, never just blindly putting into an area hoping for someone to be there. He’s always looking for the best option in the box and often will find them. He can put in a good left-footed cross, with either the inside or outside of his foot. I was impressed with his whipped, high crosses and the accuracy of his cutbacks, which always seemed to be weighted perfectly for his teammate to receive the ball.

Having watched Malacia I can see the areas of his game that Erik Ten Hag is attracted to. He suits the possession football ten Hag will be looking to implement at Manchester United. He can receive the ball in difficult situations and keeps his head both in and out of possession. His great pace, stamina and strength mean he’ll be able to track back and help prevent counterattacking situations, which Erik Ten Hag’s attacking, high-line football can potentially be exposed to. I also believe the fact Malacia has proven he can play as an inverted left-back well, as well as holding the width, is something that Erik ten Hag will be attracted to, as at Ajax we often saw his fullbacks tuck in and play like central midfielders. In the final against Roma, a lot of Malacia’s runs and possession were more central, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play as more inverted left-back. Malacia is composed, has great decision making and is only going to get better at 22 years old. I think at only fourteen million pounds it’s a deal with minimal risk and I can see the dutchman developing further under his fellow countryman Ten Hag. I’m excited by this deal and can’t wait to see what Tyrell Malacia can deliver in a red shirt.

Please note: The football articles that feature on this site are being written by Jack Dixon as part of his work experience. He is a teenager and looking for work experience within the football industry. He is currently taking his A-levels exams