SOCCER

Di Marzio: Olympiacos’ Camara emerges as favorite to fill midfield void

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Less than a week ago, Roma’s midfield, arguably their biggest needed position last season, was complete with star signing Gini Wijnladum joining Lorenzo Pellegrini, Bryan Cristante, Nemanja Matic and Edoardo Bove. Building on the quality and experience of Wijnaldum and Matic, José Mourinho now had five players for two places in Roma’s current 3-4-2-1 setup.

That was until Saturday, when the devastating news of Wijnaldum’s broken tibia changed everything. With the Dutchman out for the foreseeable future and Nico Zaniolo’s shoulder injury likely forcing Pellegrini to play higher up the pitch, midfield depth has suddenly become very thin, forcing Tiago Pinto to explore the market again. transfers.

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Since the fall of Wijnaldum, Roma has been linked to countless names. From free agents like Florian Grillitsch to old flames like Denis Zakaria and even former Roma players (and fan favourites) like Radja Nainggolan, the Giallorossi have been linked with almost every midfielder with the slightest possibility of arriving in the capital. Italian.

However, the player more likely to happen, according to transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio, is one many of us have probably never heard of.

Classic Tiago Pinto. Let the media go wild with Nainggolan reunion fantasies while quietly working to find a player no one saw coming.

Mohamed “Mady” Camara is a 25-year-old Guinean central midfielder for Greek side Olympiacos. Camara has been playing for Olympiacos since the 2018-2019 season when he joined French side Ajaccio. Although he hasn’t played in one of Europe’s top five leagues for the past four seasons, he has extensive European experience, having played more than 60 matches between the UEFA Champions League and Europa League in during his career with the Greek club.

I can’t claim to be an Olympiacos pundit or a player dubbed a few seasons ago as the next N’Golo Kante, but Breaking the Lines did an in-depth scouting report on him in the spring of 2021.

He is in a way the facilitator of Olympiacos, the gel that allows a midfielder of Mathieu Valbuena and Yann M’Vila to function. From a tactical perspective, Camara is a key motivator and benefactor. Pedro Martins’ Olympiacos focus on attacking width and creating wide overloads that force untimely defensive rotation. Camara’s role is twofold: the first phase of his involvement is to provide accurate progressive passes to the wide.

If they can navigate the opposition full-backs, Camara often finds himself loading in late as an outside option for those same wide men. Simply put, the Guinean is the linchpin that enables tactical continuity and quality at Olympiacos. Off the ball, Camara’s momentum is just as crucial. The Greek side use high pressing reminiscent of a 4-2-4; Camara is often left to patrol central areas of the pitch as one of two ‘defensive’ midfielders.

Camara’s defensive liability is compounded when you consider the aforementioned tendency for Olympiacos full-backs to go high and wide. Basically, Camara is a top trader who knows many football trades; his forte is not plumbing or plastering, but rather tackling and passing.

…he operates around the halfway line with a tendency to stray but not to the point of blocking a lane of traffic for a teammate. He can start the game on paper in the middle of the 3 in Olympiacos’ 4-3-3, but there is plenty of room for the Guinean as he has been used on occasion from the left of a 5-4-1. or 4-4-2.

Based on the drafting, he appears to fit the bill for the box-to-box midfielder Mourinho would have asked to complete his midfield. And with the likes of Leonardo Spinazzola and Rick Karsdorp pushing down the flanks, his game seems to be translating well into how Roma operate today.

Now there is the small detail of reaching an agreement with Olympiacos. We’ll see if Roma are ready to splash the cash or if Pinto negotiates some sort of loan with an option. Transfermarkt valued Camara at €11m.

Stick with us for any updates on Camara’s situation and let us know your thoughts on his potential arrival below.

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