Over the past year, there have been rumors linking Wolfsburg's French center-back Maxence Lacroix to top clubs, including Premier League giants Arsenal and Liverpool. While the transfer speculation has been ongoing, Lacroix's future remains uncertain.
In 2022, Lacroix was already being linked with Arsenal in the French and English media. It was reported that Arsenal's manager, Mikel Arteta, and technical director, Edu, were admirers of Lacroix, but due to a surplus of center-backs, no move was made.
More recently, Lacroix has been linked with a move to Liverpool as a potential replacement for Matip. However, these rumors are still in the early stages, with no concrete plans in place for Lacroix to join either Arsenal or Liverpool as a first-team player.
In order to get a better understanding of Lacroix's abilities, let's take a look at his statistics from the current season. In the Bundesliga, Lacroix has made 13 appearances, all of them as a starter, and has scored one goal.
Lacroix has also showcased his passing abilities with a success rate of 87%, averaging 4.6 successful long passes per game with a success rate of 67%, and 2.4 successful crosses per game with a success rate of 53%. Defensively, he has averaged 1.8 successful tackles, 1.2 interceptions, 5.2 ball recoveries, and 4.8 clearances per game, while being dribbled past 0.5 times per game.
When it comes to his offensive contribution, Lacroix has averaged 0.3 successful dribbles per game with a success rate of 50%. In terms of duels, he has won an average of 5.2 challenges with a success rate of 55%, and 2.5 aerial duels with a success rate of 50%.
Looking at Lacroix's defensive abilities, it is important to note that his statistics can be somewhat deceiving. While he has consistently displayed a high success rate in tackles, his overall performances have been inconsistent in recent seasons, only improving significantly in the current campaign.
In the 2021-2022 season, Lacroix received three penalties and three red cards in the Bundesliga, highlighting some impulsive decision-making and reckless challenges in the penalty area. This led to him losing his starting position for a significant portion of the previous season, starting only 18 league games.
Lacroix's lateral movement is relatively slow, and his body positioning during defensive actions can sometimes appear inflexible. While his straight-line speed is excellent, he struggles at times to cope with opponents' change of direction. Additionally, his defensive instincts can lead to rash and less refined actions when defending.
However, it is important to recognize Lacroix's many defensive strengths. He possesses good leg speed, strength, and the ability to win many defensive battles, making crucial interceptions and blocking passing lanes. Despite some of his shortcomings, he still contributes significantly to his team's defensive efforts.
In terms of his aerial ability, Lacroix's success rate in aerial duels this season has been subpar at 50% (averaging 2.5 successful aerial duels per game). However, his ability to clear the ball with his head remains impressive.
When it comes to his technical skills, Lacroix has reduced his propensity to carry the ball forward this season, instead opting for longer passes to facilitate the team's attacking plays. His success rate for long passes this season stands at an impressive 67%, with nearly 5 successful long passes per game.
Lacroix's previous seasons showcased his abilities in dribbling, as he completed 12, 31, and 8 successful dribbles in the league in consecutive seasons. These stats indicate his prowess in advancing the ball from the defensive position, although his dribbling style may not be particularly elegant.
In terms of physical attributes, Lacroix's speed is a standout feature. He is known for his rapid sprinting and quick recovery runs, making him a formidable force in defensive transitions.
However, Lacroix's lateral movement can be slow, as mentioned earlier. His hips are not as flexible, which can make it difficult for him to defend against opponents' quick changes in direction. Also, while he possesses good physical strength, his aerial dominance and jumping abilities are not yet at an elite level.
In conclusion, at the age of 23, Maxence Lacroix is still a young center-back with both evident strengths and weaknesses. After bursting onto the scene at Wolfsburg last season, his development has had its ups and downs.
Lacroix's positive attributes include his defensive contributions, ability to win tackles, speed, and overall physicality. He can also make vital contributions to his team's attacking play with his passing abilities. However, his decision-making under pressure and some aspects of his defensive technique still need refinement.
While it may be premature for Lacroix to join a top-tier club, establishing himself at a mid-table team could offer him better personal development as a reliable central defender.