Danny Cowley addresses the role he sees for Arsenal loanee Miguel Azeez in his Portsmouth team

Danny Cowley regards Miguel Azeez as an attacking midfielder – yet that’s the only pigeonholing he’s prepared to make.

By Neil Allen
Friday, 3rd September 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Saturday, 4th September 2021, 3:19 pm

The 18-year-old has arrived on a season-long loan from Arsenal to enhance Pompey’s creative attributes in the middle of the pitch.

Quite where he fits in remains unclear, despite recruited at a time when Cowley has been keen to identify a number 10.

According to those knowledgeable about Arsenal, Azeez initially started as a number 10, before dropping into a number eight role and serving as a box-to-box performer.

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So where does Pompey’s boss see the under-20 England international operating in his set-up?

‘Miguel is an eight, he plays 10 – players move. I am not being flippant, they just move in possession,’ he told The News.

‘Ronan plays 11 and spends too much time in the 10 or eight, the left-half space. Just stay out wide, get out.

‘Miguel wakes up in the morning and is not thinking about stopping goals – he’s thinking about scoring and creating goals.

Arsenal midfielder Miguel Azeez has joined Pompey on a season-long loan. Picture: Portsmouth FC

‘He’s an attacking midfielder, he can play in the number 10, as can Gassan, while Ryan Tunnicliffe played there at the back end of the Championship for Luton last year and did very well.

‘Where is a number eight or number 10? It’s from there to there, it's only about 20 yards of grass.

‘Miguel likes the left-half space. If I shut my eyes – and it’s coming into my head now – he is in that left-half space and he’s going to take it on the back foot, dribble, moving so effortlessly, and then plays John Marquis through and John scores!

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Arsenal midfielder Miguel Azeez has joined Pompey on a season-long loan. Picture: Portsmouth FC

‘He likes that space, he’s clever, he’s a bright boy, he loves football.

‘You ask Miguel a question and he will tell you his weight, his body fat, how many metres he sprints in a game, how many sprints he makes in a game, his total volume. He will talk tactically and have a real understanding.’

Azeez has been named in England’s under-20 squad for their friendly with Romania at St George’s Park on Monday (September 6).

As a consequence, he has still to train with his new team-mates, while is unavailable for Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy clash at AFC Wimbledon.

Cowley added: ‘I think we’ve got good flexibility in the group, although we know we have to improve tactically.

‘Let’s be honest, we got into good areas at Wigan and our technical quality let us down, which was disappointing.

‘Take that right-hand side in advanced areas regularly, from 45 to 60 minutes in particular, there were five positions we could have had assists.

‘We can still work more. For the amount of possession we had, we need to upgrade our chances and create more.’

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