The 22-year-old, Glasgow born, central-midfielder joined Motherwell's academy at 10 years-old in 2008 and despite his age has already amassed 133 league appearances for 'The Steelmen'. A number of steel-like performances from Campbell has made him a popular figure at Fir Park who typifies everything that Motherwell should be about.
Making his debut as a substitute in a 4-1 win against Ross County in October 2016 but then making a handful of appearances before the seasons end suggested he was not far from first-team plans. As such, in the 2017/18 Scottish Premiership season Allan went on to make 29 league appearances for the club and has been a mainstay ever since.
Latest information on his contact situation suggests that he signed a new four-year deal in 2017 expected to expire this summer despite an improved contract being agreed in 2019 it is still set to expire this summer (2021).
Internationally, Campbell has made 24 apps for the Scotland U21's since his U21's debut against England U21's in September 2017 as a warm-up for the European U21 Championship qualifying matches.
Where does he fit?
Motherwell have primarily used a 4-3-3 formation this season in fact using it 37% of the time. The secondary formations making up for another 24% is a 3-5-2/5-3-2. His role in the team is RCM that is required to help out the RB out with defending the wide attackers and overlapping fullbacks of the other team, but also to supplement attacks with intelligent runs in behind the defence. These runs often vertically very high in the half-space and combining well with teammates before ghosting behind.
In three games I scouted this was the case also as they largely lined up in a 4-3-3 although due to an early red card vs Hamilton Academical, they did revert to a 3-4-2. Below, I have used python to indicate where and how Campbell went about his business in these games using heatmaps that look where the actions he made took place.
These heatmaps reflect well how Campbell's games went with a lot of defensive duties to fulfil in the games against Kilmarnock and Hamilton in particular. Much of Kilmarnock's attacks came down his side so was very much involved defensively as illustrated and scored from one of very few Motherwell forays forward.
Much of Campbells in-possession play is relatively simple and short kept to the right side of the field apart from the Hamilton match where he came into a midfield 2 and played a lot more switches, trying to dictate tempo in ways more like a six as he got the ball in a deeper position from the centre-backs.
The St. Mirren heatmap is typical of how he would typically set up as whilst he was still integral defending the right side of defence and late runners to the box, he was still able to get forward and use his intelligence around the box in a more advanced position than the games previous.
What does the data say?
Let us look at Campbell's data and how it compares to other SPL CM's that have played 800+ minutes this season. Below is a Pizza-graph that outlines a percentile rank in each metric compared to these other CM's and does illustrate straight away certain strengths and weaknesses.
Immediately two metrics jump out which are Shots Blocked per 90 minutes (0.5), (0.94%PERC), and Non penalty goals - Non penalty expected goals (1.42), (0.94%PERC). Which initially suggests this is a player that will have an impact at either end of the pitch by both defending his area blocking shots but also exceeding his NPxG throughout the season.
Other high metrics are Passes to the penalty area accuracy (%), Pass Accuracy (%) and Touches in the penalty area per 90.
Some lower graded metrics I wanted to touch on were Received passes and the two-progression metrics (Progressive runs per90 and Progressive pass accuracy %). These are important metrics for a CM and an 8 as they need to be able to receive the ball in half spaces that will often be quite busy and pressed meaning that they must be able to position themselves in good positions regularly to help progress the ball forward via carrying or passing the ball.
On his heat-map for the season it is evident that whilst all action, most of his work goes on that right side. Whether that is a defensive capacity combining with Stephen O'Donnell to thwart any opposition wingers and fullbacks that may look to double up on O'Donnell. Or, if it is to work with O'Donnell or the wide forward in an offensive capacity.
These two beeswarm plots also illustrate how he compares in that single metric to others in the pool. Campbell showing up well on both Passes to the penalty area and Touches in the box which indicates he is a player who will look to push high when given the opportunity and make things happen with passes into the box, but also look to move into the box himself.
In the left scatter graph Allan Campbell falls in the lower quartile median for Successful defensive Actions per90 and Duels Won (%) which I felt were important metrics in judging his defensive ability and how well he comes out in duels which 8's will likely be involved in throughout the season.
On the right, it indicates passing accuracy but also the accuracy of these passes into the final third which he ranks well for pass accuracy, in fact higher than the upper quartile there and in the upper quartile for pass accuracy to the final third (%).
So his passing ranks well but what are his passing tendencies, I created a graphic below to show he passing direction this season.
Video Scouting - Strengths
I have annotated these clips to give a better understanding of why Campbell is such an important figure defensively for Motherwell. He regularly marshals late arrivals to the box and any attackers that pull off looking for space for cut-backs.
His awareness is noticeable as he checks his shoulder for any players that may cause danger and then cuts the lane back to this player with relative ease. Whilst this seems so simple this is invaluable in protecting his centre backs who already have their hands full.
In addition to this awareness a great natural aggression and tenacity in his play means he uses his body to get in front of taller players and really fights to win possession back and will not shy away from a block or tackle even if his safety is endangered.
Tenacity and Aggression
Following on from defensive awareness he is undoubtedly strong in the tackle and will press the opposition with real aggression in the middle of the pitch whilst also not picking up too many cards. This energy and tenacity are evident throughout his game.
Campbell tends to push high onto the defensive line when Motherwell have territory in the opposition half and does so with remarkable intelligence finding space behind the backline makes him a thorn in the side of defenders. Often arriving slightly later looking to use vacated space as players are drawn towards the ball rather than offer close into feet options in the final third.
In the first clip Campbell spots space opening as the Kilmarnock defence is drawn over to the left to deal with a throw-in which Campbell exploits before opening his foot to side-foot home and emphatic finish.
In the second clip a situation where the pass is slightly over hit but a good indication of his intentions in such a situation. He pulls away from the defensive line but always has an eye on the space to run into and receive the ball in a dangerous area. unfortunately, on this occasion the pass was not enough.
Video Scouting - Negatives
In the first clip you can see how when Campbell is trying to progress with the ball, he struggled to accelerate away but also was unable to use his body like he would normally. I believe this lack of acceleration is a large reason behind the 0.42 percentile rank for Progressive Runs per90 with just 0.79 made per 90.
In the second clip, you can see how a driven pass towards Campbell is a difficult one to receive on the turn, but his body position is wrong and ultimately this causes a poor first touch. Campbell receives the ball 14.67 times per90 which in a percentile rank is 0.14 compared to other SPL midfielders with 800+ minutes played. If he is to improve his effectiveness as an 8 then these two areas are ones to improve.
Lastly, his tenacity and aggression he plays with is usually a benefit but on occasion can boil over with lunging, late tackles as shown in the final clip which would be an area for concern if it were not for the low (1.02) fouls per90 given away.
In conclusion here is a steely midfielder whose intelligence on the pitch is there for all to see in terms of defensive awareness and his positioning, as well as how clever his attacking movements are. He stretches the opposition and gives them problems in behind rather than looking to receive the ball in tighter areas looking to thread passes through. In addition to his intelligence, the aggression in his challenge and press are valuable and match up very well with his football intelligence.
Although there are some technical and physical flaws in receiving the ball in tight spaces and being able to keep and progress the ball which will be an area that the 22-year-old can improve. But for someone at the age of 22 with so much experience already in the tank, his career is an interesting one to keep an eye on as his development continues.
By Bradley Lovell/@Analytics_SS
Help me buy more data for content:
Data from - Wyscout
Pictures from - motherwellfc.co.uk
Graph templates - Matplotlib
Video Editing Software - MetricaSports