Ousmane Diomande: Sporting CP’s Ivorian Jewel by Saul Morris
This report is going to be analysing Sporting CP’s Ousmane Diomande. This will be focusing on his strengths and weaknesses as well as assessing both his current ability and potential ability.
Name: Ousmane Diomande
Date of Birth: December 4th, 2003
Height: 1.90m (6”3)
Strong Foot: Right
Current Club: Sporting CP
Position: Centre Back
At just 19 years of age, Diomande is quickly establishing himself as one of the most promising centre backs in Europe. A €7.50m move in the January window of 2023 to Sporting CP, from Danish club FC Midtjylland, was Diomande’s first big step into elite European football. Sporting CP is a club famous for bringing through young players via transfers and their own academy so this move can only be beneficial for Diomande’s development.
Diomande impressed in the U19 League in Denmark when playing for FC Midtjylland when he was just 17 which led to Portuguese second tier club CD Mafra signing him on loan for the start of the 22/23 season. He made 17 appearances in all competitions which earned him a move to the Liga Portugal, to Sporting CP. This move not only gave him the chance to play top division football but also European football in the Europa League. He made 13 Liga Portugal appearances, 11 starts, and 4 Europa league appearances, 2 starts.
Style of Play:
Diomande has aspects associated with a modern centre back, this is seen by his comfortability on the ball. Sporting CP are a possession heavy side and this starts with their back line so Diomande has had to become able to play out and receive from the goalkeeper. Diomande looks to find his full back, usually right sided as he is more often the right sided centre back, or break the pressing lines to find the defensive midfielder who has dropped deep to collect. When defending, Diomande has a good physical presence but does tend to rush into challenges when not needed, this over eagerness to get involved can be expected of someone so young especially someone new to a team but he needs to show more composure and stand his ground as opposed to diving in. In terms of similar players, Tottenham Hotspurs’ Cristian Romero shares a lot of similarities with Diomande. This is due to them both being comfortable when receiving the ball, being quick enough to cover ground when needed, however they can both be a bit rash and commit fouls that are not necessary which can lead to mistakes and dangerous situations.
As shown by the heat map below, Diomande is played as a right centre back and occasionally drifts over to the right side to cover the very attacking right back.
Diomande’s main strengths are his physicality, his vision and his speed. His physicality helps him win the vast majority of his ground and aerial duels. He is able to hold off opponents well in 50/50 challenges and is able to win a lot of headers, both offensive and defensive due to his height and strength. His vision helps when playing out from the back, something Sporting CP adopts as a key to their playing style. When receiving the ball from the goalkeeper, Diomande is good at scanning what’s in front of him and finds the open and progressive pass often, whether that be out wide to his fullback, back inside to his centre back partner, or breaking through the pressing line to the midfielders that have dropped deep to collect. Diomande’s speed is also very impressive, if ever caught out in the wrong position he is able to use his speed to get back to cover which saves his centre back partner from having to come across.
Diomande’s main weaknesses are his over eagerness to get involved and his weak foot. Diomande can be known to step up to challenge a striker when not necessary, this leaves a gap in behind where if they were able to get around him then the opposition team could easily exploit. This also leads to Diomande fouling when not needed; this is shown by him receiving 9 yellow cards in just 26 games this season. Diomande does not seem comfortable using his weaker left foot at all. At a possession dominant side where the back line receive the ball a lot the defenders should be capable of using both feet for when necessary. Diomande however, does not want to use his left foot and this could present problems should he be forced into using it by a good directional press.
Ousmane Diomande is one of the most exciting young talents in Europe, a good pre-season and a full season playing at a top level and in European competitions should see Diomande flourish into a more complete player as his confidence grows. A first international call up for the Ivory Coast team should be arriving very soon and a move to one of the top 5 leagues could very well be on the cards for the summer after the 23/24 season. Diomande has the potential to reach the very top of the game and would work well in a variety of sides, possession based or otherwise.