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- Stats Explained:
He is slow, and definitely not as fast as Donadel. He uses his BB, Res & DS to compensate for his lack of pace. He does have a decent 1st two steps, and then usually gets beaten for pace. He needs to have a high BB to make him play realistic. He is great at shielding the ball from defenders, and can occasional make a crunching tackle. He is not as strong as Bentivoglio or Kolarov, but given the size difference they should still be stronger. Ledesma will still be able to get out muscled by the Totti's or even Cassano's of the Serie A. But he will also be able to body out the likes of Stankevicious. I have been a bit harsh on his agility and he does look much more agile WITH the ball, but much of his deficiencies in defense come from his inability to change direction quickly.
Attk/Def & Res:
He is a streaky player in this aspect. It basically determines if he had a good game or not...how sharp he is on the day. I would say 4 out of 5 games, he has a very sharp response. On his bad days he has good response. Where are defense I'd say 2 out of 5 he is bad in his positioning anticipation, and general reading defensively, 2 out of 5 he is solid, and 1 out of 5 he is good. He is definitely is an offensive threat, but rarely gets into the attack except following set pieces. His most common defensive strategy is to put put pressure on the ball and commit, and try to poke ball away or react quickly to deflect a pass. He is so reliant on his sharp reflexes that when takes a poor angle or doesn't have his sharp response he looks very bad defensively. He is often the 1st to react to loose balls, and despite his below average physical tools he intelligently places himself in the field to be there defensively in a counter attack, and start up the counter attack himself in transition. IMO one of the 5 most responsive CMF in the Serie A, and I'd put him on par with De Rossi. He has more defensive responsibilities as he is responsible for at time covering the back line, but also starting the counter attacks. So he come across as a more defensive minded player....but that is just the role of the Deep-Lying Playmaker. Like Liverani, he is better at getting open of passes, and getting the attack going even though it is from a deeper position. He is better in his defensive responsibilities than both Liverani & Bentivoglio, and with his good response, I don't feel anything higher than 72 would be fair for Def.
Abilities On the Ball:
He can go on good runs, but it is usually because he is out muscling people, not using fancy dribbling or pace to beat them. But he isn't bad at dribbling, and shows quick feet with the ball. He actually doesn't loose much of his limited pace when on the ball. Better close control than Cavani, Donadel & Bentivoglio....but not Montolivo or Liverani.He doesn't have a world class 1st touch, but he is very cool with it. Same control if he is wide open, or two players charging on him. Doesn't get flustered. Really nice chest control, and great at making a 1st touch that will allow a successful 2nd...which is usually a quick pass.
Passing & Set Pieces:
He can make every pass possible, the problem is the lack of consistency of completing the pass. Often the passes look fantastic, but no one is there. This is the main reason I decided to not give him the *playmaker, and a relatively average TW for a "playmaker". So I don't want to punish his Passing accuracy stats too much, because he is a brilliant passer. Similar to Montolivo, that he has no problem with the simple passes, but isn't able to hook up on the killer balls for the amount that he does them. Another issue in his passing game is that especially his Spasses...he puts too much on them at times which makes them hard to control. So I definitely wanted to display that his Passing Speeds were better than his Passing Accuracies. He also is very good at Long passes off of set-pieces, as well as the occasional direct FK goal. But I think he uses power or placement on his FK's than an exceptional amount of Curl. I don't think he has more curl than Montolivo or Liverani especially considering the use of it in the passing game. His long passes tend to resemble De Rossi's or Palombo's rather than the finesse of Liverani & Montolivo.
Fitness and Work rate:
He seems to puts a lot of pressure on early in matches, and late...and seems to just lay back, and conserve energy a bit during the middle. Just using bursts of energy, but storing enough to be able to run in the last 10 min, and doesn't look to tired after the match. Again, that is tricky to put into stats. So I am thinking that since he doesn't ever get subbed due to fatigue, and plays very often that a higher value for Stamina is necessary. And to contrast that, I will go with maybe a bit of a harsh Mentality & Agg...so that he doesn't play more hardworking than he consistently plays. I would rate Kuzmanovic similarly in Mentality. After trying out the stats with aggression 72 and *CMF as the registered position, he was getting into the box way too often, and ignoring defensive responsibilities. So I had to make him a *DMF to represent his "deep-lying playmaker" tendencies, and lowered his aggression to 69 from 72. He rarely is used as a sub, and started this season playing 90 minutes in 22 of Lazio's 1st 23 matches. Recently he has been given more rest with their run to win the Copa Italia, where he played the full 120+ min.
He definitely needs *Passing, because like Montolivo he goes for a lot of killer balls. But I can't give him the *Playmaker star, even though he would be categorized as a playmaker. He can play that role well...but with the lack of a high rate of success, I feel a good TW value would be more appropriate. Because he is very unselfish, and tries to distribute to his teammates a lot. I also considered *outside, and decided against *center as he does tend to track to the left to help out Kolarov usually.