Of course, because I am always looking for perfection, for what I can do best.”

Lucas Gourna-Douath.

RB Salzburg have held host to some of the now-best players on the planet during their time as a club. Erling Haaland and Dominick Szoboszlai made proper names for themselves while playing for the Austrian club, and Liverpool’s former wing maestro Sadio Mane also enjoyed a period playing for the Red Bull Group Football Club. Lucas Gourna-Douath may be spoken about in the same breath as those footballers in the coming years.

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Gourna-Douath is a French defensive midfielder. His first club was US Torcy, a club that has a rich history of developing French players. The likes of Paul Pogba and Jeff Reine-Adelaide have previously played for Torcy, who currently play their football in the sixth tier in France. Douath signed for Saint-Etiene after Torcy and spent 4-years at the club, making 65 appearances in total. He broke into the first team at just 16 years old, while he was the captain of the French u-17 team, and made his debut at 17 years old.

In July of 2022, RB Salzburg signed Lucas Gourna-Douath for €13million. Since then he has played 53 games for the club, delivering 3 assists in that time.

Player Profile:

“I had a fairly complicated childhood. I grew up with my mother and brother, as my father left the home quite early. It was a difficult but happy childhood, as I always loved football and played constantly with my friends.

Lucas Gourna-Douath.

Lucas Gourna-Douath is nearly everything you would want in a defensive midfielder. He is as strong as they come but has the perfect blend of agility to match that strength. The RB Salzburg midfielder reads the game to the level of a player 10 years his senior and is extremely talented at intercepting the play for his team, averaging (1.47) interceptions per 90 minutes so far in his career.

The Frenchman likes to drop into the space between the midfield and defense and deliver inch-perfect switches of play. In regards to his success rate and ability on the ball, Gourna-Douath has a 78.1% pass completion rate on long balls, and averages 3.28 long passes completed per 90 minutes so far in his career.

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A big thing in modern football now, especially for a position like defensive midfield is how progressive you can be with your passing. Top clubs like their players to be progressive with the ball at their feet, and it’s one massive thing the likes of Pep Guardiola and Roberto De Zerbi look for when they’re scouting a player. Gourna-Douath fits the bill of a modern DM when it comes to progressive passing, averaging 3.42 progressive passes per 90.

“I love playing in full stadiums where there are a lot of fans against us. That only motivates me even more. That’s part of my personality. I am not shy, and I don’t hide away, whether on the ball or in life. I think that’s a quality you need to make it to the top. We all need to help one another in the team.”

Lucas Gourna-Douath.

Progressive carries are becoming equally as important as progressive passes, and Gourna-Douath averages 1.32 progressive carries per game. For context, Moises Caicedo averages 1.08 per 90, and Rodri averages 1.44.

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How Does He Fair Against Top Opposition?

Due to Salzburg’s excursions in the Champions League, Gourna-Douath has already been exposed to some top-level opposition during his time at the club. Against Chelsea last season in the second game in Austria, he was a standout performer as his side gained a point against the Premer League club. Douath won almost all his duels in the match (8/10) and also drew the most fouls due to his powerful running forward with the ball. It prompted interest from Chelsea immediately after the game, and that interest remains until this day.

In the Champions League this season, Salzburg are struggling. Douath however has been one of the shining lights, alongside other wonderkids Oscar Gloukh and Karim Konate. The French midfielder averages 2.7 interceptions per 90 in the competition, making him the 5th highest in the entire competition. Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka leads the way. Douath and Cheikh Niasse of Young Boys are the only midfielders in the top five.

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The Eye Test:

Stats are one thing, but how does Lucas Gourna-Douath look to the eye? To say he’s graceful like Phil Foden or David Silva would be a lie, but to suggest that inhibits his effectiveness in any way would be silly. The biomechanics of a player often lead people to believe they are not good on the ball when in reality they are. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the biggest example of this. His stance on the ball is awkward and rangy, but he is well and truly one of the most press-resistant full-backs on the planet. Gourna-Douath is equally as press-resistant in the midfield.

Gourna-Douath is of that ilk, albeit not as awkward as Bissaka is. He has long legs that cover the ground with consummate ease. Douath has been compared to Chelsea midfielder Moises Caicedo in the past, and Liverpool even looked towards Douath after they missed out on the Ecuadorian midfielder to Chelsea last summer.

“I like N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba, as they are also French and play in my kind of position. I try to have various idols, no matter if they play in my position or not. I like players who can be depended on to lead a team, like Vincent Kompany, Patrick Vieira or Claude Makelele, for instance.”

Lucas Gourna-Douath.

The ability to find space between the lines in such a high-paced modern game is something that only the best midfielders can do. It’s one of Gourna-Douath’s best traits. He’s also a pure engine. A midfield without an engine is like a car without an engine. Manchester United’s midfield springs to mind as one that could do with a pure athlete like the RB Salzburg midfielder in their ranks. It allows you to control games due to the ability to cover ground, stop counterattacks, and limit breaks away when an opposition team is pinned back.

“I am currently reading a book on Marcelo Bielsa which explains how he perceives football. I like it. Afterwards, I also read that of Jurgen Klopp which, for it’s part, left an impression on me. He taught me how a coach came to make this or that decision.”

Lucas Gourna-Douath.

His ability to screen the back four has been described as his best attribute and he does so like an Avenger protecting his city. Picture how Manchester United continues to concede cut-back goals to onrushing runners in open play this season. That doesn’t happen with Gourna-Douath. He wouldn’t allow it. You do not run from midfield as the opposition without meeting Lucas Gourna-Douath first. It’s one of the main reasons Manchester United should be looking the way of the Frenchman. They need a commanding protector in the middle. Douath is that and so much more.

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He’s similar to Nemanja Matic due to his ability to use his body as a shield in possession. If you search on FBRef which player in modern football Gouath resembles the most, Nemanja Matic’s name comes up second. Different feet, but similar principles between the two players.

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Interested Clubs:

Liverpool, Brighton, and Chelsea are all clubs who have looked into signing Lucas Gourna-Douath in the last number of months. The feeling at this particular moment in time is that Chelsea lead the race. The midfielder was at Stamford Bridge for a game last month and sparked rumors that a deal was close to being done that would see him join the club.

That deal however is yet to be done, at least publicly, and his future remains up in the air. RB Salzburg will be hoping to keep him until at least the summer, but rarely stand in a player’s way once another club comes knocking willing to pay good money. It’s not a question of whether

Lucas Gourna-Douath joins a big club, it’s a matter of when.

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