At 25 years old, Guus Til has plied his trade in Germany, Russia and the Netherlands and made a name for himself with his phenomenal goalscoring prowess. With more than 30 goals over the past two seasons, the attacking midfielder may not be the most aesthetically pleasing footballer, but he sure knows how to find the back of the net.
Born in Zambia, Til moved to the Netherlands at a young age and developed at AZ’s academy, spending a decade in Alkmaar before heading to Spartak Moscow in 2019 for a club-record €18 million. He struggled to consolidate a starting spot before heading to Freiburg on a short-term loan, making just seven Bundesliga appearances.
Another loan spell would follow, with Til playing a vital role in Feyenoord’s run to the inaugural Europa Conference League Final, where they would lose 1-0 to Roma. He registered 21 goals and 5 assists in all competitions for Arne Slot’s side, finishing as their top scorer in the league as Feyenoord finished third, 10 points behind PSV Eindhoven and 12 behind Ajax.
This prompted the attention of PSV, who signed him for €3 million with a potential add-on of €1 million. Having missed out on the Eredivisie title by a slim margin, PSV revamped their squad following the departure of manager Roger Schmidt to Benfica, with the likes of Luuk de Jong, Anwar El Ghazi, Walter Benítez, Xavi Simons and Jarrad Branthwaite joining Til as new signings.
At the start of the 2022/23 season, it was still unsure what new manager Ruud van Nistelrooij’s ideal starting eleven would look like, with Simons and Joey Veerman challenging Til for the number 10 role. With Van Nistelrooij changing his team a lot throughout the entire season, Til has mostly been a player to come off the bench, but has also been in the starting eleven quite a lot.
Til has racked up 11 goals and 4 assists in 38 appearances in all competitions this season, but despite having an eye for goal, his technical ability leaves a lot to be desired. His endless work rate has always helped him to be a favourable option for managers, with his goal contributions being another key factor. However, when Til is in possession for more than a few seconds, he can look like a deer in the headlights.
A lacklustre first touch, awkward-looking dribbling attempts and a bunch of wasted chances hold Til back whenever he plays. It’s often a tough watch for the crowd, with his style seeming to fit better in a striker role. Whilst he has not often played in that role, it does seem that his managers over the years appreciate his work rate and attempts to put the opponent under pressure more when he plays as an attacking midfielder.
As Til isn’t the best player to dribble and move in tight spaces, it’s probably better to not play him as a striker as he would have very little time to react and adapt with two or three center backs closely marking him at all times.
In terms of footballing ability and his strengths, Til can be compared with Luuk de Jong. Both are great finishers, good at heading the ball and have an eye for goal. But the weaknesses of both players are also quite similar, as they both struggle to dribble well and work in tight spaces.
Til is not a Dybala-type of attacking midfielder who flourishes on the ball, creates a ton of chances for his teammates and is fun to look at, but he is appreciated because of his goalscoring ability and how he leaves it all on the pitch in every match.
There seems to be a stark contrast between half of the PSV fans who think he is a useful player, with the other half preferring to see a more elegant player in that spot. Whilst there have been no talks of him leaving PSV at the end of the season, he might just fit more in a team or league that appreciates his style more, and don’t need to necessarily have a traditional number ‘10’.
PSV currently sit second in the league, eight points behind league leaders Feyenoord and three points above Ajax after defeating the Amsterdam side 3-0 at home. They will face off against Ajax in a rematch of last year’s KNVB Cup Final, when they won 2-1, and they will be counting on Til’s end product as they look to finish the campaign on a strong note.
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