Max Aarons: The right choice for Right-back?

3 min read
Max Aarons

The Canaries right-back is the newest player linked to the Catalans. With the exit of Semedo, Barcelona is in the hunt for a better full-back after the Portuguese had an overall poor outing in the Blaugrana setting.

MAX AARONS AT NORWICH:

Max Aarons began his career at Luton Town before moving to Norwich City’s academy in 2016. Two seasons in, he won the EFL Championship in the 2018-19 season even being awarded the best young player of the year and also named in the team of the year. This earned him a spot in the U-21 national team.

Max Aarons
Max Aarons heatmap for Norwich in Premier League 2019/20 (Source: SofaScore)

If we do talk about stats, he was a regular starter for the Canary lineup with 36/38 starts to the season (out only due to injury) claiming the second-highest expected assists (xA=0.09/90), second highest blocks (of 2.78/90) while also playing the most number of minutes for Norwich in the season. 

Max Aarons

As the Norwich manager prefers to keep one full-back deep, Max Aarons plays much higher than his counterpart and enjoys bringing the ball out of defense and carrying the ball. This is helped even more with the right-sided wide player providing space on the flank by tucking inside, leaving Aarons more attacking responsibility (and also to maintain width). The Englishman is a right-footed player who naturally prefers overlapping runs (2.34 progressive runs/90)  being on the same side. His pace and dribbling abilities (1.43 successful take-ons/90) mask his slightly conservative passing higher up the field (with about 3.7 deep progressions/90). In the attacking third, he uses his agility and positional sense to provide diagonal passing angles and runs from deep. As Norwich doesn’t play many crosses into the box, Aarons prefers to play square balls or cut-ins to pick out the forward. He also has a habit of appearing at the back post, where the defenders expect the least.

Defensively, the full-back enjoys physical duels being strong on his feet without shying away from a challenge. His defensive side of the game leaves much to be desired. Aarons is dead last in tackles attempted for FBs in the premier league, though 12th in true-tackle win-rate. Being 5’10’’ and poor against crosses, he looses many aerial duels something that he intends to improve. This mustn’t be taken to heart, however, as most relegation teams are usually swarmed with attacks one after the other especially after leading the second division (having to defend very little). This is compounded with them playing a high defensive line and high full-backs leading to poor defensive transitions. 

It is also worth remembering that just three years ago Andrew Robertson was relegated with Hull before he was given the chance to thrive at an elite club. Playing as a full back.

Something he’s been praised by teammates and coaches alike is for his calm demeanour especially with the ball and good composure/decision making without being rushed into clearances or a mistake in crucial zones. Defensively, he has good scanning abilities and makes the quick movement to block crosses or gain an advantage (though the LB is more adept at 1v1 defending).

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This alone had many teams queuing up to sign the 20-year-old which hasn’t died down despite his team being relegated back to the second division. with big teams like Liverpool, Spurs, Man City, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, and now Barcelona scouting him. The latter reportedly agreed a 5 year deal with the player also getting two loan bids rejected by his parent club before preparing to look at Sergino Dest, now that they received a sizeable lump sum from transfers.

CONCLUSION

Barcelona is in a four-way duel that involves Sergino Dest, Max Aarons, and Bayern Munich, with the reports saying that the two teams are battling it out for Dest. The looser would take Aarons. Though the two FBs are not to be underestimated, they can’t be directly compared as both of them hardly had a single season at the top (even more so as Eredivisie was closed early) although both of them come highly recommended with great potentials.

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