Brighton and Hove Albion are one of three promoted clubs in the Premier League this season. The Seagulls, having made an astonishing entry to the Premier League, are definitely looking to stay here for the longer term. Chris Hughton’s side has, so far, done some good business in the transfer market. Jose Izquierdo, Davy Propper, Matthew Ryan have all been headline transfers for the Seagulls. However, they have also made some smart signings as well, one of which is Pascal Gros of Ingolstadt.
Gros arrived at the Premier League for a fee of only 3,00 Mill. € this summer, but is definitely going to play a huge role for his team this season. But what makes him such a special acquisition for Brighton and Hove Albion?
For one, I, as a Bundesliga fan, will dearly miss Gros after he left Ingolstadt, as it had been a great pleasure to watch his industrialism driving Ingolstadt every week and to watch him blossom in the top flight, despite not having any substantial top flight exposure beforehand.
Pascal Gros was the architect behind Ingolstadt’s vicious gameplan sported by Ralph Hassenhuttl, currently the RB Leipzig boss. He arrived in the 2015-16 season, subsequently Ingolstadt’s debut season in the Bundesliga. He needed no introduction and started to kick off his laces from the word go. But before you start to think otherwise – word of disclaimer – Gros played only 60 minutes in the Bundesliga, before being promoted to the top flight with Ingolstadt. He made four appearances for Hoffenheim in the 2008-09 season but totalled only 49 minutes, 45 of which came in one of these four matches. Yet, Gros wasn’t having any of this non-exposure effect in the top flight.
Now let’s dig a little deeper into his usual characteristics as a footballer.
Key passes are the most valuable asset to Gros’ overall gameplay. He managed to finish in the top 3 most key passes attained tally in the league in both his seasons at the club. He has a stunning key pass ratio of three per game. In his first season, Gros created an impressive 94 chances followed by 99 chances last season. That being said, most of his chances come from long balls and set pieces, something he’s really really good at. Funny thing is, despite Gros’ super productive chance creation rate, his team never managed to make proper use of the chances created by the former Hoffenheim youngster but that’s only normal considering their series of bad finishers, like Lukas Hinterseer, Dario Lezcano or Moritz Hartmann.
Here’s a radar map for the 26-year-old midfielder last season. This Pikachu like structure perfectly describes his gameplay. The ear being the excessive number of key passes, there’s also a good number of long balls, which can also be seen on the radar. As mentioned earlier, his scoring contributions to Ingolstadt is pretty low. But if we look at the Fouls and Dispossessed tally, they seem to be very high. There are reasons, however, firstly Pascal Gros is no central attacking midfielder, as Chris Hughton seems to believe. He is a proper central midfielder and if you play for Ingolstadt with their excessively physical pressing or their inconsiderable possession phases, it’s almost given that you have to either foul or get dispossessed. In such high-risk areas, these stats are normal.
Speaking of long balls, Pascal Gros is one skilled long passer, probably the best Brighton will have this season. Utterly skilled, and very fluent, these long balls are the main equipment of the former Ingolstadt man going forward. It can thus, bypass the row of opposition defenders or find the target man at ease. Therefore, it’s fairly safe to assume that Pascal Gros is one hell of a talent, coach Chris Hughton has at his disposal. The 58-year-old needs to make use of his technical, tactical and physical abilities very wisely if he is to survive the top flight this season. And a word of advice: Don’t play him as a central attacking midfielder.
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