Janis Antiste – another pearl from Toulouse youth academy by Tomas Black
Antiste’s position/role on the pitch is dependent on the setup Patrice Garande chooses. He’s experimented with both a 5-3-2 and 4-3-3 formations, both of which have a large effect on where Antiste plays. If Toulouse utilise a 5-3-2, this means Antiste will play up front alongside another striker, whereas a 4-3-3 means Antiste will play on one of the wings. It doesn’t seem as if Antiste has a preferred side when playing as a winger, which of course is a positive.
The first strength I’ll be discussing is probably the most important, and it’s how clinical he is. As the scatter plot below shows, Janis Antiste overperformed his xG more than any other Ligue 2 attacker during the 2020/2021 season, scoring 8 goals from an xG of 3, therefore scoring 5 more goals than what he was expected to. When it comes to a player overperforming his xG, the usual argument is that it simply isn’t sustainable and that his luck will eventually die out. However, I don’t feel that’s the case with Antiste. When you consider his shorter range shooting technique mixed with his very impressive ability to get into very impressive positions, it makes me believe that he’ll be a player who consistently overperforms his xG season after season. Maybe he won’t be overperforming to the extent of last season, however I’m quite confident when I say I believe he’ll score more than he’s expected to throughout his career.
As briefly mentioned in the previous paragraph, Antiste’s movement is very impressive. The best examples of his movement come when he’s in a central area with the ball in a wide area. He has a real habit of getting in front of the nearest defender within the box, making him a very deadly option for low, front-post crosses. Antiste frequently initiates these patterns of play himself, with him picking the ball up, playing it wide to a winger/full-back (formation dependent) and then charging into the box, waiting to attack a potential cross. An emerging strength of his that will only improve as he grows is his aerial ability from set-pieces. He’s scored two goals from corner situations this season (equating to 25% of his goals this season). On both occasions, Antiste has attacked towards the front-post before flicking the ball on towards the far-post, showcasing not only the pure connection he can get on the ball using his head, but also the high level of power he generates in order to beat the goalkeeper from the other side of the goal. This is an area that’ll only improves as his power and overall experience grows/improves. He’ll learn more effective movements with general experience. Players usually hit the peak of their explosive power during their mid 20’s, where by then he’ll be more comfortable competing aerially against physically imposing defenders. It’s worth noting that both of his headed goals have come when he’s been relatively unmarked, however as I said, he’ll become more accustom and effective against defenders once he grows in experience and hits his physical prime, which is 6-7 years away!
As I mentioned when discussing his playing style, Antiste can either play as a wide midfielder or as a striker (where he’s given the license to roam into wide areas). This means that he’s very effective when taking defenders on in the final third. His last two goals have come from him cutting inside from both the left and right wing, weaving past defenders with (what looks like) ease. Antiste doesn’t showcase his skills very often, so in order to beat defenders he tends to draw them in before dropping his shoulder and taking quite a large touch past them before using a small burst of pace to catch up with the ball. This has proven to be a very effective method in recent weeks, with Ligue 2 defenders struggling to find an answer on how to stop it.
I mentioned that he’s done this successfully from both wings, which is a massive positive within his game as it prevents him from becoming predictable. Although he can cut inside from both wide areas, I’d still say he quite heavily favours his right foot, meaning when on the right wing he’s quite likely to hit the byline and cross on his right foot. This isn’t a problem, though, as he’s still very unpredictable.
Antiste’s movement off the ball (even in deeper areas) is very effective. He’s versatile in his movement. Due to his build and physical qualities, he’s able to both drop deep into play in order to receive the ball and run in behind the defensive line. I feel his decision making when deciding what type of movement to make is clever, as he always chooses the correct type of run/position dependent on a number of factors (opposition, space on the pitch, location of the ball and teammates position).
Aside from his clinical edge, Antiste’s unpredictability on and off the ball is a massive bonus to his game, as the opposition defence will struggle to design a way of preventing him from being effective. For example, if the opposition play a deeper line to prevent his runs in behind the defensive line, he’ll simply drop in between the midfield and defensive lines and act as a false nine, a position I feel he could become very effective in, but I’ll discuss more of that at the end of the report.
Although Antiste is very effective with the ball at his feet in the final third, I don’t believe that’s the case in the deeper areas of the pitch (during build-up play or on potential counter attacks). When carrying the ball within the deeper areas of the pitch I believe he’s indecisive which can lead to him losing possession within dangerous areas. This makes him a weakness on the counter attack. To solve this, I’d leave him higher up the field and allow him to help the counter attack through his off-ball movement, instead of attempting to carry the ball and likely losing it. Yes, this indecision is a weakness of his, and can be harmful to the team, however it’s something that can easily be fixed.
To add to the previous point, Antiste isn’t very press resistant and doesn’t get the most success in tighter areas (especially within the deeper areas of the pitch, as I said). I feel when dribbling, he’s much more effective when there’s a little more space between him and the defender. This type of situation usually occurs in the final third, where he can take on a defender 1v1. In conclusion, I feel he’s a more effective dribbler higher up the pitch, however he can struggle in tighter areas (which are usually in deeper areas of the pitch), which can be potentially dangerous.
The next weakness I want to discuss is his final ball, more specifically, his crossing. As we know, Antiste is much more likely to cut inside when carrying the ball in a wide area, however when he does decide to hit the byline and cross, it’s very likely that his crosses are either inaccurate or have too much height/not enough speed on them. This type of cross almost initiates a simply aerial duel between the defender and attacker, and statistically, the defender is likely to win that duel. I feel one of the reasons why Antiste cuts inside (off both wings) so much is to not have to cross or hide his crossing ability, which showcases perhaps a lack of confidence towards the byline. In the future, I’d like to see Antiste cross as if he was taking a shot, with more speed and perhaps less height on the cross. This would make his crosses much harder to defend against as the defenders have less time to react/set themselves for a clearance. It would also increase the chances of own goals. The majority of own goals are scored when a defender attempts to clear low, zipped crosses across the six yard area, and I feel if Antiste can implement this type of cross into his game, he not only becomes even more unpredictable with the ball at his feet, but his assist numbers would likely vastly increase.
The final weakness I want to discuss corelates with my previous point, however this time I’ll be discussing his final ball from outside of the box when shooting. To be honest, I don’t see this as a technical issue, perhaps more a psychological one. I found that Antiste sometimes has a habit of snatching at long range shots, resulting in the ball not ending up anywhere near the goal. It’s obvious Antiste is very deadly when shooting (as shown by his xG overperformance), however as I said, he can often hit some uncomposed shots from range. Like 90% of other young players within a senior setup, the answer to this issue may be that he’s simply too eager to impress which results in him being rash and too excited (on occasions) when the ball drops to him (from distance). Sometimes, when in those type of situations, he may need to pick his head up and find a simple pass before thinking of shooting. Or, if he’s adamant on shooting, then it’s important he composes himself and reminds himself of the basics of shooting (for example, keeping your body over the ball and using the most suitable part of your foot depending on location on the pitch). I’m aware this is easier said than done, though! This weakness will naturally fix itself with age and experience, so it’s not something I’m too worried about.
So, what does the future hold for Janis Antiste? I’m quite confident when I say he’s going to continue to score goals at a decent rate either in Ligue 2 or possibly even in Ligue 1. However, with that being said I do believe a slight change of position would benefit his game massively.
I believe the way of getting the most out of Antiste is by either playing him as a central striker by himself or as a false nine (in a 4-3-3, for example). Antiste isn’t a traditional striker, he has enough technical ability meaning he should be getting on the ball as much as possible, and I believe perhaps a false nine role would not only enhance his strengths (by putting him into more effective goalscoring positions) but it’d also paper over his weaknesses, as by playing as a false nine in a 4-3-3 he wouldn’t be forced to drift wide and cross the ball, instead he’d be central, in and around the penalty spot, utilising his elite level movement to attack the front-post and score some high quality xG chances.
Personally, Antiste could play a number of positions across the attack (possibly even as an attacking midfielder), however I feel in order to get the best out of his game, he needs to be as central and in the most dangerous areas of the pitch for as much of the game as possible, which means (in my opinion), he needs to be avoiding the wide areas more from next season. However, this is dependent on a change of system from Patrice Garande, and it’s highly unlikely that he’s going to sacrifice what’s proven to be a very successful system in order to get the best out of an 18 year old.
One thing’s for certain, the future is going to be very interesting for Janis Antiste.