First up, you can watch Hitesh's screamer in the Hero Super Cup here.
Hitesh Sharma is a player I love watching for many reasons, chief among which is his tendency not to take more than two touches of the ball unless he needs it. A neat player, Hitesh usually takes one touch to control the ball, one to pass it and then moves position to receive it again. That, in essence, is what they teach at La Masia. When you combine this tendency with his high technical level, you could say that the sky is the limit for the youngster.
Hitesh started the season in excellent form constantly buzzing around in the #10 role behind Kuqi. However, his energy did not translate to goals and assists and he has since been shuttled across multiple midfield roles. He has looked good in patches but ATK’s injury troubles meant that it was difficult to find goals as they were without an out and out striker for much of the season.
In the Super Cup, the Indian youngster was asked to play in the center of the park. In his new role alongside Conor Thomas in the centre of the park, Hitesh has shown excellent positional awareness. Playing in a two-man midfield, it’s important to choose when to attack and when to defend as you must always take your partner’s position into consideration. The ATK midfielder has also shown an impressive passing range. Both Thomas and Sharma have been encouraged to hit long direct passes towards Keane, Zequinha and Mbatha, which they have done to good effect.
But where he stands out for me is his ability to carry the ball past players from the base of the midfield. This and his passing range together make him invaluable to ATK. I might also add that these are the same qualities that made Santi Cazorla such a vital part of the Arsenal midfield.
Cazorla is important at the start of the game when the ball comes from our defenders, because he can pass from deep midfield to high midfield better than everybody and get out of pressure. That’s why I positioned him more central. - Arsene Wenger
An area for improvement is tackling. Hitesh doesn’t strike me as the type of player that wants to get stuck into a tackle. However, he has been brushed off the ball too easily and since most ISL teams play 3 players in the middle of the field, he needs to give ATK more of a physical presence.
By The Numbers
I decided to do a comparison of Hitesh Sharma to the two best midfield players in the league, Edu Garcia and Dimas Delgado. All stats are per 90 minutes played.