Scouting Bilal El Khannouss: The future of the Atlas Lions

There has been plenty of hype surrounding the emergence of Genk’s Moroccan teenager Bilal El Khannous. U23 scout António Mango provides us an in depth scouting report on the young attacking midfielder.

Bilal El Khannouss was born 10th May 2004 in Strombeek-Bever, Belgium. El Khannous is of Moroccan descent. A former youth international for Belgium, El Khannous switched to represent the Morocco U20s. In 2009 El Khannouss joined the academy of Belgium giants Anderlecht, a club renown for producing some of the best players in Belgian fotoball. After 10 years with Anderlecht, El Khannouss decided to move to Genk in 2019.

El Khannouss senior debut came on 21st May 2022 against Mechelen. The 19-year-old is just one of many young stars emerging out of Morocco right now, Azzedine Ounahi, Abdessamad Ezzalzouli, Zakaria Aboukhlal, Ayoub Amraoui, Chadi Riad, Yassine Kechta, Benjamin Bouchouari, Ibrahim Salah, Anass Zaroury and Imrân Louza. Morocco fantastic World Cup campaign seems like the start of something great for the Atlas Lions.

Style of Play

Bilal El Khannouss plays as a midfielder, usually as an advanced playmaker but can also be deployed as a No.8 due to his exceptional tactical knowledge. The midfielder is blessed with excellent technical ability, athleticism and agility to be able to shift from one direction to another in the blink of an eye all combined with creativity, intelligence and confidence. El Khannouss has the capability to see the game different to most, his illustrious intelligence with and without the ball allows him to effect the game in many different ways.

Furthermore, he has the eagle-eyed vision and passing range to be a game changer. Combining all these attributes, he’s dangerous. El Khannouss is technically accomplished, able of doing almost anything with the ball at his feet which enables him to be one of the most effective players on the pitch. The teenager likes to be on the ball as much as possible and never shrinks away from adversity. El Khannouss is the cog in midfield, orchestrating attacks with penetrating runs and passes.

He consistently finds space to receive in between the lines and help his team evade pressure. He’s superb at scanning space and capturing a perfect picture of both his teammates and oppositions positioning which enables him to know his next move before the phase begins. Once in possession, El Khannouss excels and you see his true qualities come to the fold, his exquisite first-touch allows him to caress the ball with a deft delicate touch into his stride.

His ambidextrous feet allow him to manipulate opponents into think he is going into a certain direction before a quick drop off the shoulder and exploding the opposite way. Not very often you come across players that are just as proficient with their ‘weaker’ foot but El Khannouss is. The Moroccans excellent self-confidence and technical ability allows him to glide past players, rather then using power to bulldoze his way through. His runs are compromised with short-touches, using his frame to protect and shield the ball, but once he has committed defenders as is afforded space he has the guile to explode away. In El Khannouss first season (2022) he’s averaging 1.5 successful dribbles per 90. El Khannouss is a cultured passer with the ability to break the lines with intricate vertical balls. He averages 30 passes per 90, an exceptional 22.2 inside the oppositions half with a 80% success rate which indicates his ability to execute under defensive pressure.

Defensively, El Khannouss takes on his responsibilities, working tirelessly in tracking back and putting his foot in. He’ll press in attempt to force opportunity into mistakes. The teenager likes to press from the front, in-fact 2.7 of his 3.4 tackles occur in the final third, complimented of a success rate of 55%.

El Khannouss is an absolute pleasure and dream to watch and if you don’t know much about him, you will soon.

António Mango

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