Player Analysis: Joakim Maehle, The New Atalanta Talent

The drama involving Papu Gomez and Atalanta’s coach Gian Piero Gasperini didn’t affect the team’s dominant performance in Serie A as they keep pushing for a top spot by winning four of their last five games.

It should be clear by now that Atalanta are here to compete with the big boys. And what better way to prove it in a time of recession than spending money on a talented player like Joakim Maehle? The 23 year old Danish right back joined from KRC Genk for a fee of €11m on a five-year contract. Here’s a brief review of the Bergamaschi’s new joiner, in collaboration with The Scouting App.

Interestingly, Maehle is supposed to be a replacement for Timothy Castagne who also came from Genk three years ago and was recently sold on a €3.5m profit to Premiere League’s Leicester City.

Joakim Maehle is very suitable for Atalanta, who just like Genk, play a high pressing game. In fact, Genk were always more efficient in counter attacks originating from the right side were Maehle plays. His superior pace and runs forward make him very dangerous on the wing attracting defenders and therefore creating more space for Josip Iličić. He loves dribbling and going forward. Many times, he would act as an inverted winger, creating chances all by himself.

Nevertheless, Joakim should attempt more crosses in order to feed Duván Zapata and Luis Muriel. His crosses success rate is abysmal (20%). As a wing-back who has an attacking mindset, he must provide more assists than his average of approximately four per season.

A big advantage of Maehle’s game is his movement off the ball. He starts by playing wide near the sideline then makes sure he is free to receive the ball. He is regularly moving which makes him a great team player. Another strong aspect of his game is his accurate passing  – especially long passes – with which he can switch from defense to the offensive phase in a quick and dangerous way.

With success rates of 41% for aerial duels and 48% for ground duel, Joakim Maehle isn’t the best of individual defenders. However, he makes up for that with his incredible ability to read the game and anticipate opposition passes. He records an astonishing average of 6.2 recoveries and 2.1 clearances per game.

And while he loses possession very frequently, he always tracks back and often makes a clean tackle. His attacking mindset can put a lot of pressure on Atalanta’s center backs who will be constantly on their toes to save the day. Good thing there are three of them in the 3-5-2 formation used by Gasperini.

Joakim’s athletic body not only helps him complete the whole 90 minutes without looking tired, even though he runs up and down the pitch non-stop, but his height of 185 cm allows him to take a central position in the box for both defensive and offensive headers.

Joakim Maehle’s heatmap

Joakim is already proving to be valuable in terms of versatility. In just two games so far for Atalanta, he played in two different positions, right wing-back and left wing-back. With the team qualifying from the Champions League Group Stage and competing in both Serie A and the Italian Cup, Maehle is expected to play an important role in resting Robin Gosens and Hans Hateboer.

Joakim Maehle certainly has a long way to become a perfect player but he is exactly what Atalanta is looking for, a wing back who can be a substitute for the rest of this season and a probably a first team starter for the next campaign.