Mehdi Taremi is a 27-year-old Iranian striker with the dream of making his mark in European football. In order to follow his dream, Taremi asked for the advice of his national team coach, at the time, Carlos Queirós. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid coach advised the Iranian to launch his European career in Portugal. Trusting the manager’s words, Taremi flew from Asia to Europe to sign for the Portuguese club Rio Ave FC.
Since his first match, Taremi has been making his mark in the Portuguese Liga NOS. Under the orders of the former EPL coach, Carlos Carvalhal, Rio Ave and Taremi are competing for a place in Europe. Taremi’s goals and good season so far have also drawn the attention of two big clubs in Portugal. According to the media, SL Benfica and Sporting CP are closely following the Iranian striker.
This scout report will provide a tactical analysis of Taremi and describe his role in Rio Ave’s tactics. Additionally, in this analysis, Taremi will be compared to other goalscoring strikers in Liga NOS.
So far, this season, Taremi has been playing as one of the strikers in a 4-4-2 formation. The Iranian’s characteristics allow him to play and shift between striker and second striker throughout the game. In fact, Taremi is reasonably capable of doing almost all the roles of a complete forward. Additionally, even though he is right-footed he is reasonably good with his left foot.
His 6’ 2’’ height and strong body figure allow him to be a target man. The Iranian can hold the ball, be a target in the area and play one-twos close to the penalty box.
In contrast, his speed, mobility, and capacity to play with back to goal helps the team’s last third build-up process.
The Iranian seems to be a humble, hardworking team player. However, Taremi lacks aggressiveness and a bit of “dirtiness” that would also help to improve his game.
As we mentioned earlier, Taremi is a player that has a different variety of qualities. Above all, when watching the Iranian plays there is a characteristic that is easily identified, which is in the way he connects with midfield.
Taremi is always connected to the game, following the ball from side to side. The Iranian does this to find the best moment to participate in the team’s second phase build-up. One of his preferred moves is to drop between the opponents defensive and midfield lines. This allows him to be an extra link between his team’s midfield and attack helping his teammates to create opportunities. The image below shows Taremi in this kind of positioning.
It should be noted that the Iranian moves are not only in the centre of the pitch. Taremi is positionally flexible and he is also capable to drop to one of the channels and also creates opportunities. Below we can see a different movement from the Iranian.
Taremi smartly uses these kinds of movements to attract the opponent’s centre-back to him. The centre-backs who fall for his trap leave space for his teammates to take advantage of. In the image below we can clearly see this movement.
However, that is just one of the ways Taremi takes advantage of the space left behind. Many of the times he does one-two’s with his teammates and takes advantage of this space himself. In the image above he does this and explores the space behind the defender.
It should be noted that Taremi plays well with his back to the goal and has a good passing ability. However, sometimes he tries a difficult first touch passes and he misses them. Equally, sometimes when Taremi engages in duels with his opponent’s and needs to shield the ball, but here he can be a bit soft. Adding a bit more aggressiveness to his game would make him win more offensive duels, especially aerially.
Getting into scoring positions
As we mentioned earlier, Taremi also has the speed to explore the back of the opponent’s defensive line. Playing as part of the front two in a 4-4-2 formation helps him to explore different kinds of movements to deceive his markers.
In addition, he is also able to use his dropping move against the opponents who have studied him. Taremi also is able to this “fake” this movement and quickly change direction and explore the back of the defenders. The images below are an example of this movement.
When his partner in the attacking duo drops deep Taremi is also capable of exploring the space left by him. Additionally, when the ball is being played on the other side of the pitch Taremi makes smart diagonal moves to the back of the defenders. He also does this when playing as a lone striker. The image below is an example of this type of movement without the ball.
This movement and change of direction when closer to the area often creates dangerous scoring opportunities. Taremi’s speed and intelligence make him hard to stop and sometimes his opponents can only do it with a foul. On five occasions this season a move like this resulted in a penalty for Rio Ave. Many other of this moves ended with fouls in dangerous spots.
Inside the area, Taremi is also able to identify the best move to be in the best position to score. The Iranian is capable of taking advantage of his speed and anticipates his opponents before the crosses arrive. Alternatively, he is also able to mislead the opponents and stay behind on the edge of the box for a cut back.
Comparison between goalscoring strikers
Even though Taremi’s mobility is one of his main characteristics he has many others that complement his playing style. In this section, we will compare the Iranian to other strikers in Liga NOS. Since Taremi is in the top five goalscoring strikers in the league the comparison will be made with those players.
Firstly, as we mentioned earlier, Taremi is sometimes is not aggressive enough when fighting for the ball. However, this does not mean that he is weak in offensive duels. In fact, as we can see in the graphic below Taremi wins 42% of his offensive duels. This percentage means that Taremi is the leader in this category compared to his fellow strikers.
Secondly, let’s take a look at Liga NOS strikers dribbling ability. As can be seen in the graphic below Taremi is fighting for the first place once again. With 54% of dribbling success rate, the Iranian is almost tied with Fábio Abreu. Even though Abreu has almost equal dribbling success of the Iranian, he tries more dribbles per 90 minutes. Taremi’s dribbles are not magical but efficient. The Iranian striker is able to slalom between opponents in tight areas.
Thirdly, Taremi’s dialog with the midfield depends on his passing ability. The graphic below once gain compares the final third passing success of the top five goalscoring strikers in Liga NOS. This time the Iranian is placed second but with a reasonably good success rate of almost 67%. Overall Taremi completes 75% of all the passes he tries which is also good. This success rate makes him the leader in the overall passing ability. These statistics help to explain Taremi’s quality in relation to his links with midfield.
Last but not least, let’s compare the strikers in their main role: scoring goals. Taremi throughout all Portuguese competitions has a total of 13 scored goals in his first European football season. However, only 10 of those were scored while competing in the Liga NOS.
Nonetheless, Taremi is scored in many different ways and situations this season. The Iranian scored through headers, volleys, tap-ins, penalties and shots inside the box either with left-foot or right-foot. Below we can see two different types goals Taremi scored so far.
As can be seen below, Taremi is tied up with three of his fellow strikers who also scored 10 goals. It should be noted that Taremi finishing ability is acceptable but his goal conversion could improve. In fact, Taremi scores only 20% of the chances he is presented with which way below Vinicius’ 33%.
To sum up, Taremi is a reasonably complete striker and he made a positive impression in his first season in Europe. Scoring goals and being amongst the top strikers in the league is helping Rio Ave to succeed. Importantly, he is also helping them to fight for the last European spot in the Portuguese league. Additionally, with these performances, Taremi is drawing the attention of two big sharks in Portugal. Playing in the UEFA Europa League with Rio Ave could help him pop up on other European club radars.
The Iranian left his popularity and better contract in Asia in order to follow his European dream. For now, Taremi is on the right path to fulfilling his dream.