Borussia Dortmund has (allegedly) signed a 16 year old from Anderlecht, which probably means we should pay attention. They’ve got a pretty good track record with these things after all. Julien Duranville is an ’06 winger who plays both sides of the pitch, dominating opponents with devastating pace and dribbling.
Below are my personal ratings on each aspect of his game as it follows the four corners model.
There are two immediate standout attributes about Julien Duranville, and one of them lands here in the physical attributes. Overall, he is an incredible athlete, but both his acceleration and speed over distances make him one of the fastest players on the pitch at all times. Furthermore, he is quite short. This height makes him stronger than someone of his size would normally be, because of a lower center of gravity. He has a surprising amount of confidence ‘posting up’ with defenders on his back and using technical skill to turn them.
This height tends to make him a relatively weak threat aerially, but Duranville is nothing if not determined and he at least contests almost everything.
The next standout attribute about Duranville lands here, in the technical category. If you’ve seen even one clip of him play, you will have noticed how incredible his ability to carry the ball through defenders. He has the technical ability to take on 3–4 players at once and make chances just through this carrying. Once he gets to the final third he builds on this carrying by having quality with both feet, able to put in good crosses regardless of which wing he’s playing on.
He attempts to play slip passes through the lines also, but struggles a bit more here and can struggle to create through his passing game. This is overall representative of his passing game, where he can be a bit overzealous and attempt ambitious passes rather than simply taking a first touch and retaining possession.
Despite being a good dribbler, Doranville has a bit a poor first touch. Almost reminiscent of a baseball quip where a player attempts to make the transition from ball to hand before the ball even truly reaches their hand. Doranville is sometimes over-eager to make his next move, resulting in a first touch that is poor at times.
His ball-striking, finishing, and overall shooting is generally quite poor at the moment. He struggles to really make powerful, consistent contact with his shots leaving them mostly non-threatening. He also seems to take pretty few shots at both the youth and the professional level, with most of his quality coming in his ability to create chances rather than finish them.
The clip above illustrates an anomalous moment that could certainly mean improvement is ahead of him in this area though. Striking that ball from a standstill and having enough power to place it perfectly in the top corner goes against what most of his other shots look like, but could mean proper coaching leads to this being more consistent.
Duranville is a coaches dream in the tactical attributes. He is a hard-working defender who will rarely make a mistake due to a lack of effort. Pressing is a major strength of his when utilized in the system, as it uses his great closing speed. He does drop well into shape though and can read opposition attacks well, cutting off passing lanes effectively.
On the possession side, his runs and positioning isn’t very noteworthy but he makes good runs often and does a good job at dropping deep to receive but certainly room for improvement here in selecting correct moments. Similarly, his vision is still relatively immature and leaves room for improvement at selecting the correct moments and passes.
As mentioned before, Duranville is nothing if not his effort levels. He has the utter confidence in his ability to complete a take-on, regardless of the opposition, and this works massively in his favor. He is also an incredibly aggressive defender, although this at times leads to fouls being conceded rather than possession won.
His awareness will take more time to adapt to the professional game, but he is relatively aware of pressure on his back and his surroundings, and particularly good at being aware of his surroundings defensively.
His decision-making can be a bit rash and ambitious at times, but these things often take time to adapt to the professional game.
Very infrequently have I personally seen many players who are this obviously talented at taking on a defender, at a variety of levels including minutes against West Ham. His ability to create chances will be something that requires harnessing as his decision-making still does hold him back, but he has the immediate raw skills to make for a great player.
In terms of considering his potential, the athletic build that Duranville already possesses at his age means that he will almost immediately be able to collect minutes at the professional level, giving him the opportunity to adapt to the technical learning curve present in the pro game. This should bode well for a skillset which has already demonstrated scalability into the professional level.
Improving things like his decision-making and adapting to the intensity of a higher league will make up the majority of his necessary improvements, while filling out his frame further will also come naturally over time.