In the competitive world of football, every club endeavors to establish its own unique identity and style of play. Manchester City boasts their possession-based tiki-taka philosophy under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool has become synonymous with Gegenpressing. Andoni Iraola, the new manager of Bournemouth, brings his own distinctive philosophy to the table – Hybrid Pressing. With an impressive track record at Real Vallecano, Iraola aims to shape his team according to his methods, and his first signing, Justin Kluivert, sets the tone for his ambitions.
Following Kluivert’s arrival, Bournemouth secured the services of Romain Faivre from Lyon, although he was immediately loaned back until 2024. Both players possess the youth and talent that suit Iraola’s desired playing style. The Cherries have not stopped there and are now on the verge of signing AZ Alkmaar left-back Milos Kerkez. As previously highlighted in our analysis of Andoni Iraola’s appointment at Bournemouth, the club lacked the specific player profile required to implement Iraola’s style of play, prompting them to explore the transfer market extensively.
The imminent transfer of Serbian-born Milos Kerkez is the latest illustration of Bournemouth’s commitment to Iraola’s vision. But who exactly is this promising young fullback and why has the Bournemouth manager placed his trust in him?
At just 19 years old, Kerkez has already amassed experience at four different clubs over the course of his senior professional career. Having played for Gyor, AC Milan, and AZ Alkmaar, Kerkez is no stranger to variety and adaptation. Born in Vrbas, Serbia in 2003, Kerkez represents the Hungarian national team due to his dual citizenship. Encouraged by his parents, he joined the youth academy of local club FK Vrbas, before moving on to Rapid Wien in Austria, where he spent a successful five years honing his skills.
Eager for new challenges, Kerkez later joined Hungarian club Hodmezovasarhely in 2019, quickly outgrowing the setup in just six months. He then made a move to FC Gyor, where impressive performances caught the attention of AC Milan. Joining the Italian giants allowed Kerkez to train with their first-team squad and be part of the historic season that saw Milan clinch their first Scudetto in a decade. However, limited game time and stiff competition prompted Kerkez to seek a fresh start elsewhere.
His subsequent move to AZ Alkmaar for a mere $2 million proved to be a fruitful one. Making 33 appearances for the Dutch club in all competitions, Kerkez showcased his attacking prowess, scoring four goals and providing seven assists. This impressive display garnered interest from numerous clubs and established him as one of the most sought-after young players in football.
Now, as his transfer to Bournemouth awaits final confirmation, Cherries fans have reason to be excited about the acquisition of a highly talented player. Kerkez’s fearless mentality sets him apart from his peers, and at such a young age, he has plenty of time to refine and enhance his skills in various aspects of the game.
A closer look at Kerkez’s playing style reveals similarities to many modern full-backs. Like his idol, Theo Hernandez, whom he learned from during his time at AC Milan, Kerkez enjoys expressing himself in the attacking half of the pitch. His inclusion in the CIES list of Top U20 Footballers in 2023 is a testament to his exceptional performances for AZ Alkmaar. Kerkez perfectly fits into Iraola’s system due to his proficiency within the mid-block approach.
Blessed with pace and a keen sense of timing, Kerkez frequently makes dangerous runs into the opponent’s defensive half, prioritizing offensive contributions over defensive responsibilities. Iraola’s hybrid pressing philosophy compensates for
Kerkez’s attacking tendencies by giving the fullbacks the freedom to join the attack. This allows Kerkez to utilize his speed and technical ability to make overlapping runs, provide crosses into the box, and even take shots on goal.
One particular aspect of Kerkez’s game that stands out is his arrival in the box and shooting technique, reminiscent of Marcos Alonso during his time at Chelsea. Kerkez has a knack for timing his runs into the box perfectly, often finding himself in goal-scoring positions at the end of deliveries. His ability to burn the ball into the opposition net with accurate and powerful strikes adds an extra dimension to Bournemouth’s attacking play.
While Kerkez’s attacking prowess is undoubtedly impressive, it’s important to note that he is still a young player with room for growth and development. At just 19 years old, he has already shown great potential and is building something special at the Vitality Stadium.
Under the guidance of Iraola, Kerkez will have the opportunity to further refine his skills and adapt to the demands of English football. The manager’s emphasis on hybrid pressing and attacking freedom for fullbacks perfectly aligns with Kerkez’s playing style, making him an ideal fit for Bournemouth’s new philosophy.
As Bournemouth continues to assemble a squad that embodies Iraola’s vision, the addition of Kerkez highlights the club’s ambition to build for the future. With his attacking prowess and ability to arrive in the box, Kerkez has the potential to become a key player for the Cherries in their pursuit of success.
While it remains to be seen how Kerkez will adapt to the challenges of the English game, his talent and potential make him an exciting prospect for Bournemouth fans. As he continues to develop and showcase his abilities, Milos Kerkez could be a name to remember in the coming seasons as he leaves his mark on the Vitality Stadium and the Premier League.