Zeki Celik was scouted from the Turkish second league, following the trend of great scouting from Lille. He helped Lille get to second place last year in Ligue 1 and this season made his debut in the UEFA Champions League. He has risen in value since he arrived at Lille according to Transfermarkt, proving his good performances in the French club. In this scout report, we will see his qualities and abilities that have made him increase in value.
Lille plays in a system that enables the full-backs to constantly go high up the pitch. This is beneficial for Celik who likes to attack and get forward. Even with important players leaving last season, they have managed to form a competitive squad and came fourth in Ligue 1. In this tactical analysis, we will see how Celik’s attributes are suited to Lille’s system.
In Lille, apart from having attacking full-backs, they also want them to press high to stop play nearer to the opponent’s goal. For this, they employ a counter-pressing system where once the team loses the ball, they quickly go to recover.
Celik excels at this. He makes 3.71 counter-pressing recoveries per game which for a full-back is a good number. More importantly, he makes 1.55 recoveries in the final third per game. This is one of the best statistics in Ligue 1 and surprising seeing as he is a right-back.
In some Champions League games, Lille played with 3 centre backs, changing from their usual 4-4-2 systems. They did this to have more security in the back against higher quality teams, and because Celik and Lille’s left-backs have the qualities to play as wing-backs.
For example, in Figure one we use Lille’s game against Valencia in the Champions League. In this game, they played with three centre backs, making Celik a wing-back.
We can see Celik is pressing the opponent’s left-back and is deep inside the opponent’s half. He is joining the attackers in their pressure. With the full-backs participating in pressing high, this makes the build-up play more difficult for the opponents.
With that formation with three centre backs, Celik was encouraged to press high because he would always have support to cover the space left behind. This is seen in the same game in Figure two, where Celik is coming back from pressing high, and the right centre back is covering for him on the right.
Even in the usual 4-4-2 formation, Celik presses high but not as much because, in that formation, there is less support behind to cover for him. Additionally, with there being two centre backs now, there is one more player in the midfield/attacking position. This means that there are now more advanced players to press high and so the full-backs are not needed as much.
Another reason why Celik doesn’t press high as often with a 4-4-2 is that covering for him is harder. The whole defence has to be concentrated and shuffle to the right at the same time he presses to be coordinated and not leave a player unmarked.
The example in Figure three comes from the game against Chelsea. Here, Celik is coming back from pressing high and we can see that the whole defence has moved to the right. One centre-back is marking the left-winger that was left by Celik and the other centre-back has swiftly come to mark the striker.
However, the left-back was not as concentrated and is far from the right-winger who is making a dangerous run. This proves that for Celik to press high in a 4-4-2, the whole defence has to be attentive.
An interesting statistic to know is that Celik makes the fourth most recoveries in the final third. As shown in Figure four, he has more than the starting striker Victor Osimhen and the talented attacker Jonathan Ikoné.
Even when Celik is not necessarily pressing high, he likes to defend high to not give the opponent winger space and time to think. He likes being near the winger so he cannot turn and face the goal to create danger.
In Figure five, he is very close to Chelsea’s left-winger to make the opponent left-back doubt about whether passing it to him. Also, if the left-winger does receive the ball, Celik is immediately on him which nullifies his goal threat.
However, in the same image, we see the potential weakness of this tactic. Celik leaves a lot of space behind him that could be taken advantage of by another Chelsea player. In this case, Lille’s defence has to be aware that Celik likes to defend high and so be ready if a pass is played in the area behind Celik.
Defending 1 vs 1
Full-backs are perhaps the most vulnerable to 1 vs 1 situations. Players look for these situations on the wing because if successful, they can get into a dangerous area quickly. Celik deals with these situations well as he is solid defensively.
This is important so that an attacker does not easily get through Lille’s defence and create danger from the wing. In Figure six, we see one of Celik’s ways of dealing with these situations. Since the Chelsea left-back is left-footed, Celik shows him onto his right foot.
This makes it more difficult for the opponent to dribble past as the player is now uncomfortable and has to go to his less preferred side. Also, if he does get past through that side, the probability of him creating danger is less because he is using his weak foot.
However, in this case, Celik cleared the ball away just as the left-back moved to his right side.
Also, Celik makes 9.13 defensive duels with 58.48% success rate. The number of defensive duels is one of the highest and the success rate is decent considering how many duels he makes. This is a solid statistic for a full-back and shows why he is the starting Lille right-back.
Celik has won the most defensive duels in Lille’s third, as shown by Figure seven taken from Wyscout.
Weaknesses in defence
Celik is good defensively but he also has facets to improve on. One of them is his defensive clearances. There were a couple of times where he cleared the ball badly and went straight to an opponent.
The most dangerous example is in Figure eight, where he cleared the ball straight to a Chelsea player. The Chelsea player received the ball in a very dangerous position and shot. Even though he did not score, it was a dangerous situation that could have been avoided with a good clearance.
Connected to this is another trait that he has to improve on. As a defender, you must be strong in the air to clear balls away from your half or dangerous positions. This is where Celik struggles as he has a 36.07% success rate in his aerial duels.
This number is below average and if Celik wants to reach the next level in his performance, he has to improve this.
Lille’s tactics include having attacking full-backs which make Celik want to stay as wide as possible. This spreads the opponent team out which makes the passes through the middle easier to make. This positioning is shown in Figure nine.
Also, it allows for Celik to be easily found by his teammates as they know he will be wide in the wing. In terms of time on the ball, he would have more of it and also space to run into because he will not usually be marked being that wide on the wing.
Celik is an attacking full-back. One of the ways he shows this is by constantly looking for opportunities to overlap. The good thing about this is that he creates another effective attacking option.
But even if he does not receive the ball, he draws the attention from the defenders and thus allows more time on the ball for the winger. As you can see in Figure 10, Celik is going for the overlap and the defender is backing away to be able to defend Celik if he gets the ball.
Thanks to this, the winger has the time to raise his head and look for the cross.
This analysis observes that Celik provides more attacking options to Lille. One of them is him constantly looking to pass forwards. This encourages an attacking and direct system. As we see in Figure 11 taken from Wyscout, in the build-up all of his passes are forwards.
This proves that Celik likes to constantly look forwards to pass the ball and that these passes are usually made into the right side.
Celik makes 9.87 progressive passes per game which is one of the best in Ligue 1. This makes sure that the ball is played into the talented attacking players as quickly as possible. This also shows that he can make dangerous passes into attacking areas.
An example is in Figure 12, where he sees Ikoné making a run and makes a great pass in behind the defence.
Another statistic proving that Celik likes to go forward is his 3.02 crosses per game. This is one of the highest in Ligue 1 and benefits Lille’s system as they have Rémy and Osimhen as strikers. Both are good in the air and can attack the ball well.
Celik is the player who crosses the ball the most in Lille and he has a 30.8% success rate which is good but could be improved.
Lille makes 14.14 crosses per game with a 26% accuracy. This means that he makes over a fifth of the team’s crosses per game and has higher accuracy on average. Consequently, this shows that the team heavily rely on him for accurate crosses during the game.
Overall, Celik is a good fit to be the Lille right back as the team needs a defensively solid right-back who presses high as well as being attacking. He suits both these needs but can improve in some defensive aspects such as clearing the ball or in aerial duels. Offensively, he offers different options which benefit Lille and it is clear that he is an attack-minded, direct full-back. Next season, it would be no surprise if he is still the starting right-back.