Scouting Time: Robin Tihi
In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the football world. Next up is AIK’ centre-back Robin Tihi.
The mighty AIK are in the midst of a transition period at the moment. After winning the title in 2018 last season was a bit of a disappointment – particularly as they had to look on as their fierce city rivals Djurgardens IF took their crown as kings of Sweden. This year their manager Rickard Norling is looking to rebuild a younger, more fluid side from the functional, experienced team he had in years past, and young centre-back Robin Tihi looks like being a key part of this new Project 2020 at AIK.
Tihi is a player scouts will be flocking to watch just as soon as people are allowed to attend games again in Sweden, I guarantee you that.
A tall centre-back with an athlete’s frame, Tihi is reminiscent of Raphael Varane in his early years at RC Lens in terms of build and style of play. Thrown in at the deep end unexpectedly at the start of this season after a handful of appearances in cup competitions, the 18-year-old showed no signs of nerves in his league debut at Orebro in a 2-0 opening day win for AIK. He even scored the opening goal with a classic defender’s goal – a dominant header from a corner.
What impresses me about Tihi is how calm he appears already in pressure situations. Granted, we are playing with no crowds in Allsvenskan but there is still scrutiny when you are a starting centre-back at one of the biggest clubs in the league. Against IFK Norrkoping, though AIK lost 4-1 Tihi was one of the best players on the pitch. In 1 v 1 defensive situations, he had the better of Christoffer Nyman, an established Allsvenskan player, for the majority of the game. He hustled him out of possession, made three very good tackles, made brave headed clearances from corners, taking responsibility to defend set-pieces and was aerially dominant from long balls up the field.
What impressed most, however, was one exceptional 40-yard first time pass out to the right-hand channel late in the first half, demonstrating promising technique and glimpses of his ability to distribute the ball effectively from the back. It was superbly executed, and though he did follow it up with one or two nervy moments on the ball, it’s clear he is calm enough in possession to want to bring the ball out from the back and build play. All the qualities a modern-day centre-back needs.
To date, his long pass completion rate per Wyscout data is 85.71% (91.4% total pass accuracy). Early days, but Tihi is sure to be talked about often this season.
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