Taras Gomulka is one of the most exciting youngsters in the A-League at the moment. Having played just five games for Adelaide United so far, making his debut on the 19th of July this year he has shown extreme composure and technique having been placed in the heart of Adelaide's midfield straight after the return from COVID-19.
Gomulka recently signed a three-year deal at Melbourne City, deciding to leave Adeliade after three years in the club's youth and senior teams. Previous to this, Gomulka played youth football for Adelaide City, Raiders and the South Australian NTC. Just before signing for Adelaide, he featured for MetroStars, and impressive performances encouraged Adelaide to sign him for their youth squad.
Gomulka is a defensive or deep-lying midfielder, who has played for Adelaide as the deepest midfielder in a 4-3-3 formation:
At Adelaide, he showed impressive tactical positioning in his movement to create passing angles through the middle of the pitch. He isn't the fastest at top speed but uses his positioning to block forward passing angles towards the opposition, which contributes to his five interceptions in five matches.
The statistics show that Gomulka likes his side to hold onto the ball, having only made four clearances and three of them being headed, showing his willingness to maintain possession. He has brilliant composure when under pressure and uses this to his advantage in the middle of the field.
He also has an eye for a forward pass, often through the centre and uses his body, in particular, his head to make the defender believe he is progressing the ball in a different direction.
Here he does just that, playing a simple pass before receiving the ball and playing a crisp pass to Stefan Mauk.
However, his area of weakness comes with the defensive side of his game, in particular marking. His tackle rate is quite good at 65%, but he often struggles to track back after being beaten.
In the above example, Gomulka attempts to intercept a pass from Milos Ninkovic but can't get his foot to it. Trent Buhagiar is in space down the left, and Ninkovic begins to work his way towards the box at a jogging pace.
At first, Gomulka remains goal side of Ninkovic, jogging just in front of him but after the Serbian playmaker senses an opportunity in the box, Gomulka finds himself trailing to his opponent and Ninkovic has a clear opportunity to attack the ball at the front post unmarked. Adam Le Fondre shoots and should leave it for Ninkovic, who would have had a good chance to score.
In that game Gomulka often was tasked with man marking Ninkovic but lost him on a few occasions, showing that for his game to improve, he has to stick to his defensive tasks.
I believe that if Gomulka continues to develop his technique as well as improving his defensive awareness and marking, it is likely that we will see him in Europe in the next few years. I would like to see him move to either Japan or South Korea where he could use his composure to play through heavy and energetic presses.
He possesses the quality to make it far in Europe, and I would love to see him feature in the Netherlands' Eredivisie where technical quality rules and tactical awareness is crucial.
He has joined the most possession-based team in the league in Melbourne City which suits his style, while the departure of Josh Brillante should increase the time given to Gomulka.
Gomulka is a talented deep-lying midfielder who expresses good ball control, short-range passing and tactical awareness. While the defensive side of his game will have to improve, he is just nineteen years old and will benefit from the guidance of Patrick Kisnorbo at City.
He's certainly one to watch out for in the coming season.