Projections: Maxi Oyedele

Projections: Maxi Oyedele

Salford-born Maxi Oyedele is one of the recent beneficiaries of Manchester United’s innovative loan scheme for academy players. Under the setup, the 18-year-old joined National League club Altrincham FC on loan – gaining match-day experience while still training with United’s development and first team.

United’s website reads, “This group of players will gain an even truer taste of senior football with first-hand experience of the training standards and playing in competitive match situations when beneficial. Players will learn directly from experienced pros and learn what is required to perform in senior football.”

Oyedele has racked up over 800 minutes across 12 appearances for “the Robins”, giving us a sizeable sample to assess his skillset outside academy football.

Games seen:

  • Oldham Athletic vs Altrincham
  • York City vs Altrincham
  • Altrincham vs Woking
  • Dorking Wanderers vs Altrincham
  • Altrincham vs Dagenham & Redbridge
  • Altrincham vs Solihull Moors
  • Altrincham vs Gateshead

Where has he played?

Playing Style & Temperament

Maxi is a rangy, versatile ball-winning midfielder with defensive aptitude. He’s been deployed in a box-to-box role but had his strongest performances as a midfield shuttler (Carillero) – occupying lateral spaces to consolidate his teammates’ attacking endeavours.

Oyedele assumes a calm, unperturbed disposition on the pitch. While he relishes a crunching tackle, most of his other actions indicate mellowness. He effortlessly glides across the pitch, makes direct interventions within his territory, and blocks off passing lanes once the opposition enters another zone. 

This disposition is noticeable when his side transitions from the offence to the defence phase (block). Here, he often chooses the appropriate zone/marker to intervene – trusting his teammates to hold their fort and bailing them out when necessary.

Maxi might appear slow to react during counters. When appropriate, he’d unabashedly prioritize central compactness or serve as the secondary cover rather than hunt down a specific ball carrier. This risk-averse steadiness is uncommon in youth football – and might benefit a team that employs a conservative defensive axis.

Simultaneously, Oyedele possesses an uncommon second gear when chasing down specific markers or consolidating his team’s shape. He can spontaneously raise his intensity, and catch opponents off guard. ‘Paces like he is unbothered then charges & challenges with a bite.’

Overall, he appears to be an efficient runner – seamlessly alternating gears between game-phases to maximise his physical output.

Here are some broader thoughts on the importance of temperament in scouting.

Now, let’s explore how this mental disposition manifests in other facets of his game.

Out of possession (ball actions)

  • Tackling

Oyedele’s long limbs and agility allow him to make tackles from a wide range of angles to the ball carrier. He is one of the few players I’ve noticed who employ the knee-to-ground lunge when facing an opponent one-vs-one.

When recovering or behind an opposition player through on goal, he can wrap his legs around the opponent and force a turnover.

One instance of Maxi Defending Wide

Oyedele also employs an unconventional approach to defending wider isolations. In those moments, especially when the opponent is against the touchline, the United youngster crunches in a goal-keeper-like block to prevent the out pass in-field. This technique suggests a player with some background playing cage football or (some) semi-structured form. In terms of efficacy, the move limits passing opportunities for the opponent but might concede a throw-in.

These tendencies could benefit an out-of-possession game model that sets pressing traps & aims to contain opposition.

  • Counter-pressing / back-pressing

Maxi has a knack for nipping the ball off the back of unassuming opponents – especially in settled defense or during counter-pressures. His lax stance entices opposing ball handlers to fire passes to his marker. In these moments, Maxi shows excellent timing and a straight-line burst to step up and intervene.

  • Aerials

Despite possessing a strong leap, Oyedele struggles in contested aerial duels. The common theme around this flaw is a failure to go up without feeling and exerting significant pressure on his marker. Maxi tends to make poor contact in uncontested situations: mistiming jumps entirely or attempting them when he need not. As a result, he might appear elusive against teams that play long and direct – costing his side recovery opportunities.

Nevertheless, the young midfielder keeps contesting in this situation – which speaks well of his application and room for improvement.

While this issue persists, it’s best if he is deployed as a supplementary defender – battling for 2nd balls – for opposition goal kicks rather than the first man.

In possession

  • Touches / Receptions

When he is static and under pressure, Maxi displays strong close coordination and decisive use of arms when receiving the ball. He is skilled in pinning his marker with his hands, shifting the ball out of his feet, and poking it to a nearby teammate. Occasionally, he might show naivety and transfer pressure rather than curbing it or situating his mate in a better position. Regardless, his ability to retain possession in those pressurized moments might render him valuable ‘as a pressure bait’ for sides that utilize regimented buildup sequences.

Otherwise, Maxi attempts many give-and-goes, so they might appear detached in a less structured environment.

He does not show similar fluidity when on the receiving on the move with immediate pressure from behind. He can be ‘bumped’ out of a clean first touch or scuffle the ball under his feet. This primarily manifests when he has to receive back-to-goal against the opposition’s last line. 

I am yet to decipher the reasons/mechanics behind this issue.

Overall, he remains confident in inserting his frame between man and ball to buy moments, win fouls, or escape pressure.

  • Passing / Setting up Releases

Oyedele is a significantly better passer in one or two-touch situations than when he has to hold the ball for longer. In the brief possession spells, he is adept at using the incoming ball momentum and angle to create other angles (directional touches) and find nearby, vertical teammates or plays longer passes. It uses the stud-roll-outside-foot combination often & to good effect. But with the ball at his feet for longer, Maxi struggles to set up his releases and might end up forecasting his intention to the opponents.

While confident on either foot, he tends to allow the ball to roll across from his left side to his right side, so his grounding touch would be on the latter. This especially happens in wider zones.

His passing tendencies suit a side that intends to maintain a higher tempo in the opposition’s half: direct, vertical moves.

  • Ball striking 

Oyedele has a strong form when striking the ball – especially volleys, half-volleys, and first-time shots. He reads the ball’s flight and can make small adjustment steps on his toes as it enters its downward path. He demonstrates whole-body coordination to generate power, maintain balance, and efficiently transfer momentum across his entire body.

However, when the ball is flat or static, the young midfielder shows less conviction. Unlike first-time shots, where the ball is set up for one to adapt and strike, this scenario requires a player to do the shot preparation – where Maxi’s aforementioned pre-release issues are again visible.

Summary: What next?

Maxi’s development has gone under the radar of the larger public. However, in opting him out of U-23 football for the higher-staked environment of the national league, the coaches clearly have faith in his abilities.

This player can be impactful as a midfield shuttler in a high-tempo, counter-pressing side. While he has yet to demonstrate it comprehensively, Maxi can be decisive in attack-to-defence transitional moments. His natural positioning without the ball is one of a consolidator – identifying & covering gaps and insuring his teammates. Maxi is disciplined enough to protect central zones in a defensive block but might require a more physical presence to be the sole pivot in a more competitive league.

I’d tab him to have a breakthrough in the 2023/2024 season – garnering more experience in the English league ladder or as a mentee to Casemiro.