Grading The Deal; The Accession Of Ahmed Musa To Leicester City

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The silly season is fully underway, as club “think tanks” seek to delve into the transfer market and attempt to strengthen their teams going into the new season, while also ensuring that they get the best possible value for money deals in a very competitive and largely inflated global transfer market. We at GSV have taken it upon ourselves to give you a comprehensive breakdown of some transfer deals in our Grading The Deal supplement, an exclusive and comprehensive guide catered towards the purists who seek to know more than the average fan regarding the wheeling’s and dealings in football today. Enjoy!

#TheSuperMarket

Defending English Premier League Champions, Leicester City Football Club, have had to deal with the threat of their league winning side being raided by traditionally bigger clubs; after warding off interest from Arsenal for the signature of last season’s club top scorer, Jamie Vardy, The Foxes watched on in agony as Ngolo Kanté turned down a new deal and eventually chose to join Antonio Conte’s revolution in London. The recent weeks have seen the club’s marquee player, Riyad Mahrez, also turn down an improved deal from Leicester and angle for a move to a much bigger club, with Arsenal said to be leading the chase; the rumour mill has continued to tick with news of players leaving the club, as Jeffrey Schlupp and Ben Chilwell have both been courted by Premier League clubs in recent weeks.

Enter Ahmed Musa, the club’s record signing ,and a player that has the ability to make up for much of the losses Leicester have and may still incur, from losing players due to their unforeseen success. The Nigerian attacking dynamo nearly came close to signing for The Foxes in the January transfer window, but a reported £23m bid was rejected by CSKA Moscow, who he then helped guide to their 3rd league title in the last 4 seasons, with a 17 goal haul in all competitions. Securing the services of a young elite level talent like Ahmed Musa for a truly laughable fee of £16m, in today’s transfer climate, is another example of the great business done by Leicester City in recent years. The former CSKA & VVV-Venlo star brings with him a wealth of Champions League experience, to a team that will be in unchartered waters in the coming season; Ahmed has already amassed 24 Champions League appearances thus far in his career, and his expertise will come in handy for The Foxes.

The one undeniable quality Musa brings to Leicester City, apart from his blistering pace, is his ability to play on the flanks, behind the striker & upfront as well; the versatility of The Foxes new addition will afford them with the perfect platform to unleash him in areas where he can be most effective, against specific opposition, in Leicester’s highly effective counter-attacking game. The rise of The Foxes can be witnessed off the field as well, as Ahmed Musa reportedly turned down offers from Everton, Southampton & West Ham United prior to penning his 4 year deal with Leicester City; the one time Arsenal target is overjoyed to be finally fulfilling his dream of emulating childhood idol and friend Nwankwo Kanu, by starring in the Premier League and hopefully going on to become another Nigerian legend in the division.

Ahmed Musa

Bio

DoB: October 14th, 1992 (23)

PoB:  Jos, Plateau State; Nigeria

Nationality: Nigerian

Caps & Goals: 58 Caps, 11 Goals & 6 Assists

Position/s: Inside Forward, Winger, Deep-Lying Forward, Poacher (L/R/C)

Height: 1, 70m

Preferred Foot: Either

Club: Leicester City Football Club

Jersey No: #7

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2020

Transfer Fee: £16m

Former Club: Jos University Teaching Hospital Football Club (Loan, 2008 – 2009) | Kano Pillars (Loan, 2009 – 2010) | VVV-Venlo (2010 – 2012) | CSKA Moscow (2012 – 2016)

Development Nest: GBS Football Academy (2008 – 2010)

2015/16 Club Stats: 44 Games, 18 Goals & 6 Assists

Total Career Stats: 253 Games, 86 Goals & 41 Assists

GSV Deal Grader: Trevor Benjamin from Cambridge United F.C.  to Leicester City F.C. for £ 1.3m on July 12th, 2000 (3/5)

The Grand Stand View

The former Nigerian Premier League record goalscorer, a record he had set at 17 years of age with 18 goals for Kano Pillars, Ahmed Musa has made great strides in his career thus far; a Nigerian International at 17, after making his debut on August 5th of 2010, Musa has gone onto net 10 further international goals after scoring his 1st for the Super Eagles in March of 2011, as a 17 year old prodigy. It seems almost unfathomable that the diminutive attacking marvel hung up his gloves at age 12, after playing as a keeper since he was 10, to become an infield player that has terrorised shot-stoppers since.

Strengths

One trait that immediately stands out about Ahmed Musa’s game is his electric pace; the lad is well versed in the art of accelerating quickly, while maintaining his top speed and balance, often leaving his marker eating dust when he’s on one of his trademark mazy runs. A technically gifted attacking weapon with bags of tricks to unleash on any marker brave enough to square up against him, Ahmed uses his low centre of gravity to evade opposition defenders with ease; a trait that makes him a commodity in the game today, where players have to work even harder to create space for themselves or their teammates. Agile and capable of running hard for the entire duration of a game, Musa is a player that stays a threat for 90 minutes, and often punishes the opposition late in games as they tire of chasing him about. A consummate finisher, Ahmed Musa knows how to find the back of the net, while also creating his fair share of chances for his teammates as well.

Weaknesses

The one downside to playing Ahmed Musa on the flanks is his lack of an end product as it pertains to crossing or looking to pick out better positioned teammates 1st, prior to digging into his bag of tricks to create a better chance for himself to score. The lack of composure in the final third is rather surprising, for a player with the goal & assist tally that Ahmed boasts, something he will have to improve upon as he acclimatises to life In the Premier League. Despite being naturally diminutive, Musa will need to strengthen his body, if he is to truly succeed in a fiercely competitive league; his all action game and trickery will naturally invite tougher treatment from opposition defenders, and a stronger body will be crucial to remaining fit for each battle.

Wunderkind Watching; The Kinglike Kelechi Nwakali

KelechiNwakali(GoldenBall)
The Golden Boy | Kelechi Nwakali
KelechiNwakali
A Playmaking Genius | Kelechi Nwakali

Wunderkind Watching; The Kinglike Kelechi Nwakali

#TheTalentScout

Wunderkind

: a child prodigy; also :  one who succeeds in a competitive or highly difficult field or profession at an early age

: someone who achieves success or shows great talent at a young age

The transition from playground hero to global superstar is one that only a lucky few get to undergo & complete; child prodigies can be found in every crevice of the globe, yet one does not always get to witness a child prodigy excel at a competitive level and show signs of great promise at a tender age, as gaffers are often under pressure to get immediate results and predictably punt for more seasoned pro’s as they seek to attain some much needed job security. Football remains one of the greatest tests of talent in the modern age, a field where hard work beats talent, when talent refuses to work hard and having talent alone is not enough to truly flourish in the craft. With measured development and sound off-field guidance, a wunderkind can develop into a world-class footballer with the gifts and aptitude to excel at the highest level; wunderkinder do not always become the true stars that their potential levels would have suggested they’d develop into, yet that will not hinder us from watching the best u/20 lads in the game and giving you an informative, enlightening and educational scouting report as our Talent Scout packs his binoculars and goes Wunderkind Watching.

Kelechi Nwakali

Bio

DoB: June 5th, 1998 (18)

PoB: Owerri, Imo State; Nigeria

Nationality: Nigerian

Caps & Goals: N/A {u/17 International}

Position/s: Deep-Lying Playmaker, Box-To-Box Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker

Height: 1, 81m

Preferred Foot: Right

Club: Arsenal F.C (Transferring July 1st, 2016)

Club Jersey No: Not Yet Assigned

Development Nest: ASJ (Academy of Saint-Joseph) in Owerri

Honours: 2015 u17 FIFA World Cup Winner & 2015 u17 FIFA World Cup adidas Golden Ball Winner

Talent Scout Report

Mental: The advancements in modern football have necessitated an increased level of anticipation in players that play in more central areas, the high pressing nature of football today requires players think more proactively on & off the ball if they are to keep up with the pace. Kelechi s gifted with good positional play and that bodes well for him in modern football when coupled with is ability to react quickly to situations on and off the ball; a midfielder is often judged by their effect on the team, Nwakali best exemplifies his worth by always looking to be in the best possible position to affect the game positively for his team.

One of the early indicators of his high potential threshold is Kelechi’s impressively high level of composure on the field for such a young lad, the skipper of the Golden Eaglets side that beat Mali 3-0 to be crowned 2015 u17 FIFA World Cup Champions, Nwakali has exhibited great levels of maturity which has allowed all his other natural gifts to come to the fore far more naturally. A driven young man with big dreams and the will to go out and accomplish them, Kelechi came back from missing out on the 2013 u/17 FIFA World Cup winning squad, after being considered too young for that level, to skipper his class to the gold in a show of sheer willpower and desire to achieve greatness. His influence on his teammates is infusive and much of that is a product of the driven nature of the young lad, who seems to naturally inspire those around him to be the best version of themselves, while playing some pretty enterprising football while they are at it.

An extremely creative midfielder who seems to revel in his role of being the conductor of the orchestra, Kelechi can often change the complexion of the game with an inspired moment of brilliance and his match winning capabilities make him a key asset in modern football where games can turn in one through-pass on the transition after having absorbed pressure from the opposition in a tight game.

Despite being blessed with great positioning on and off the ball, the youngster will need to become more aware of the spaces he can exploit if he is to become a world-class player in the future, his game will only develop with time and more natural growth will occur as he plays more competitive football at a higher level; Kelechi will learn how to impose himself on games far more often by taking advantage of the spaces he can create. As with many gifted young footballers, Kelechi can sometimes seek to do too much too soon in an attacking move due to his propensity to make something positive happen for his team; maturity at the elite level will bring about improved decision-making on the field and that will make Nwakali even more of a threat on the field.

Physical: One of the key traits of importance in midfield today is a players ability to remain balanced on the field, a more balanced player can better ride challenges or adjust to make them in the timely manner demanded by the pace of the game today; Kelechi is well balanced for a lankier lad and his agility allows him to manoeuvre himself into key positions or work his way out of a tight situation and still find a way to benefit his team. Playing in the engine room is demanding for any footballer, the pressure is only increased on young players who have to adjust to the physicality & pace of the game at the elite level; Nwakali comes fitted with a great pair of lungs that allow him to play effectively on both sides of the ball without losing too much effectiveness as the game wares on.

Physicality and durability is great to possess in ones arsenal if one seeks to succeed at the elite level, but the sheer pace of football today requires a player to have some degree of  mobility to play in the engine room. Kelechi will need to work on improving his mobility and increasing the speed at which he can manoeuvre himself about the pitch to better influence proceedings.

Technical: One of the greatest facets of Kelechi’s game lies in his technical proficiency with the ball at his feet, a well versed dribbler that can beat his marker and create space for himself and his team, Nwakali combines his impressive dribbling mastery with a neat 1st touch that often sees him leaving his man for dead just as he brings the ball under his spell and afford himself that extra bit of time on the ball to execute what he sees.

A natural born conductor of play with the skills to orchestrate a sweet symphony, Kelechi Nwakali has the passing vision & range to link up play extremely well and ensure that he finds a way to make the team create chances on the offensive end; capable of playing short intricate passes or mixing it up with more direct diagonal passes, Kelechi has the ball distribution and retention abilities to succeed at the elite level and develop into a star for Arsenal in years to come. Kelechi also exhibits great technical mastery from set-pieces and that skill is one that puts him in good stead for the future as he adds another goal dimension with his penalty-kicks, corners and free-kicks.

The long-term view is that Kelechi will develop more into a deep-lying playmaker that conducts the attacks from deep while still providing a defensive foil for the more advanced players; if the lad is to succeed in that role, his tackling will need to be worked on as he could put his defenders in some danger by missing key tackles in dangerous positions.

For such a technically gifted young lad, Kelechi still struggles to get himself more goals from open play due to a lack of refinement when it comes to shooting from range and making the most of the good positions he finds himself in. The gifted youngster could also use some work on the training ground with regards to his finishing ability, something many Arsenal midfielders seem to need assistance with; an improvement can only come with dedicated work in training on getting into the best possible positions to get more goals. Overall, Kelechi Nwakali is a well-rounded midfielder with great potential and the opportunity to develop his game further at one of the best places to develop as a young player; the future looks bright for Nigeria with the plethora of gifted youngsters on the rise, Nwakali stands in good stead to become a pivotal cog in the Nigeria side that would be targeting glory at the historic 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

GSV Potential Meter: 4/5 Tsamaya’s

Next Best Thing; The Kingly Kelechi Iheanacho

The Future Of Nigerian Football | Kelechi Iheanacho
The Future Of Nigerian Football | Kelechi Iheanacho
Get Used To It... | #Banter
Get Used To It… | #Banter

In a world where the “next best thing” is always a hot commodity, one cannot describe how pleasant it is to browse the papers over a pint skimming through an article about the next exciting football prospect worth going down to the betting store over and putting down some Randela’s on them becoming top class internationals. Now very few of these protégés end up becoming the greats they were hyped up to be by the glowing reviews, as my bookmakers bank balance will attest to; but the journeys  I have undergone tracking many of these young players has been worth every single penny scraped into a bet.

#TheTalentScout

The City Football Academy is a £150m youth development work of art, the picturesque pitches and state of the art training facilities are nothing short of jaw-dropping and befitting of the desire shown by the current owners to develop elite level ready home-grown talent that can lead the club to glory in the future. The mandate has not seemed to coincide with what we have seen on the pitch over the last couple of seasons and bar the brief cameo from José Ángel Pozzo during a mini injury crisis, we have not seen many Manchester City Elite Development Squad members graduating into to first team squad and being preferred over a highly paid acquisition. All that is rumoured to change this season, the leggy former champions are rightfully seeking to inject some youth and fresher talent to a first team squad that was beginning to seem complacent and uninterested for large parts of the season gone by.

Its October of 2013 and the best young players from the best u-17 nations in the world are gathering to battle it out for the FIFA U-17 World Cup and become the best u-17 nation in the realm; while many have their personal teams to watch and possible winners in mind, the tournament ends with Nigeria claiming at 4th FIFA U-17 World Cup crown and the trophy is held aloft by a No:10 who seems to finally be the answer to the great African debate and proven that we might still get another Augustine “Jay-Jay” Okocha in our lifetime. Kelechi, or Nacho as he is affectionately known, came to prominence in this highly entertaining competition as he led an undefeated Golden Eaglets side to the title, the team was marvellous in all departments and their dominance was exemplified by an attacking symphony orchestrated by the talented trequartista named Kelechi. Nigeria scored 26 goals in their 7 games with Kelechi having a foot in 13 of those strikes; his personal performances were commended with his announcement as the Golden Ball winner for the Player of the Tournament, beating Nathan of Brazil who recently signed for Chelsea F.C, and also being awarded the Silver Boot for second most goals scored, beating Boschilla of Brazil due to his higher assist numbers. Kelechi left the United Arab Emirates having scored 6 goals and assisted 7 with scintillating performance that had scouts, pundits and writers alike from across the realm raving about his potential and raw ability.

Kelechi chose his preferred destination after being linked to some of the best sides in the realm and was released from the Nigeria senior national squad training camp preparing for the 2014 African Nations Championship, to head over to Manchester and sign a pre-contract with Manchester City with the intention of moving to the club in October after his 18th birthday as legally permissible by law for foreign players in the UK. The now world renowned talented playmaker returned home to have his spectacular year capped off by being awarded the CAF Most Promising Young Talent of the Year at the Awards Gala and brought Nigeria an accolade they had not won since 2006 where they enjoyed a spell of 4 consecutive winners with Obafemi Martins winning it in 2003 and 2004, while John Obi Mikel stormed to take the award in 2005 before Taye Taiwo took it in 2006. Winning this award proved that Kelechi was indeed the premier young African talent in the realm and that Manchester City had just secured the services of a future legend in the making, the worthy heir apparent to a throne that had been vacant for long enough.

Kelechi joined the City squad for their pre-season tour of the USA for the 2014-15 season, the wunderkind showed why he is a highly touted teenage prodigy with some impressive performances and a goal in two encounters on the tour, 4-1 and 5-1 victories over Sporting Kansas City and AC Milan respectively showcasing glimpses of his ability swim with the big fish in the ocean of talent at City. Work permit hold-ups lead to Manchester arranging for Kelechi to remain in the States with Columbus Crew, as a favour to former City star Claudio Reyna, with the view of ensuring that his development does not stall or see his game regress due to a lack of competitive football and training at a high level. The work permit came through in January of 2015 and Kelechi begun to officially train with the Manchester City Elite Development Squad under the tutelage of the legendary Patrick Vieira, while injuries and acclimatisation may have stalled his development a t the squad a tad bit, Kelechi still managed to finish the season as a player that seems ready for a shot at the first team level in the Sky Blue jersey with his performances and application to his development.

There are many within Africa, and within GSV, that felt as though Kelechi could stall at City and eventually become the African version of Michael Johnson due to the lack of opportunities to play for the side and their reluctance to loan him out to a league where he could have been playing regularly while developing and proving his first team readiness. City stuck to their guns and they seem to be ready to promote a few lads from their Elite Development Squad into the first team for the coming season, while I personally laugh at the thought of Kelechi being called a Manchester City development product, I have immense joy in my heart at the thought of him fulfilling his potential and showing his God-given class and artistry at the highest level and Lord willing, brining some more success to City. We saw how he was demoted down the pecking order at u/20 level for Nigeria as he played a pit part role during the recent 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand where the squad failed to show their u/17 level form and eventually finished the tournament in 11th place after advancing 2nd out of Group E and coming unstuck against the then undefeated Germany side who knocked them out of the tournament in the Round of 16. Kelechi only featured in 2 games during the tournament as Musa Yahaya of Tottenham Hotspur and Success Isaac of Granada carried the burden of trying to carry the attacking unit; the lack of evident development is has game I beyond worrisome, yet the lad has been blessed with a raw skill-set that still manages to shine through all his rough edges.

While £150m is a truck load of money to spend at any level of business, it can easily be the best piece of business Manchester City have ever done since coming into their wealth; an ambitious and well run youth academy will always interest young players and their folks, when that academy is combined with opportunities in a thriving first team that plays a great brand of football, youth coaches start having good headaches over who is better than who in a deep talent pool and that only bodes well for a club moving forward when the talent is managed right.  Manchester City wooed Kelechi over to the United Kingdom because they showed him that he could become a star in their galaxy of established stars and be afforded the best possible opportunities to fulfil his talent and become one of the best footballers on the planet, now it’s time for both parties to fulfil their promise; the football fraternity will be an even more entertaining place with a thriving Kelechi showing his class at the elite level and Bob’s the brother of your Kano Pillars supporting Okoman.

Kelechi Iheanacho

Bio

Full Name: Kelechi Promise Iheanacho

DoB: October 3rd, 1996 (18)

PoB: Owerri, Imo State; Nigeria

Height: 1, 85m

Position: Attacking Midfielder,  Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista, Deep-Lying Forward, Advanced Forward

Preferred Foot: Left

Club: Manchester City F.C.

Jersey No: #72

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2016

Market Value: € 100 000

Development Academy: Taye Academy

Caps & Goals: N/A (Nigeria u/13, u/15, u/17 & u/20 International)