Grading The Deal; The Resplendence of Riyaad Norodien to Orlando Pirates

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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

The almost inexplicable rarity of a young talent bursting onto the scene as a teenager, earning the respect and accolades that some seasoned professionals retire without receiving, while managing to remain grounded and continue to grow at a progressive rate is something many South Africans all too familiar with. Yet every once in a while, the stars align for some of those “once in a generation” talents that transcend the norm and create a new plateau to be broken; the rise & rise of Riyaad Norodien has been spectacular to witness, the Ajax CT youth graduate has quickly established himself as one of the premier young talents in South African football, due to the great strides he has continued to make in his development since bursting onto the scene as a teen.

Riyaad made us all sit and take note of him towards the end of the 2014/15 season, where gaffer Roger De Sa looked to prepare the squad for the eminent departure of Keagan Dolly to Mamelodi Sundowns at the end of the season; the loss of one key player created an opportunity for a youth graduate to step in and continue the club’s proud tradition of promoting talent from within when there is an opportunity to do so. Riyaad stepped up to the elite level and took his opportunity with both hands and feet; after overcoming off-field troubles in the form of a legal battle with the club, Norodien seemed to use the platform as an opportunity to prove that he was good enough to be a professional, and now he has earned a move to an even more illustrious club as a reward for his perseverance and dedication to progression.

The transfer became one of the worst kept secrets of the transfer window, after news was leaked of the deal being announced as part of a dual-swoop on Ajax Cape Town by Bucs, that also included Abbubaker Mobara, who seemed to have his sights set on filling the vacancy at right-back, created by the departure of Ramahlwe Mphahlele, in the Mamelodi Sundowns side. Riyaad is said to be overjoyed to be linking up with gaffer Mushin Ertuğral, a keen admirer of young talents and enterprising attacking football, Mushin also happens to be the man that promoted Riyaad into the 1st team setup at Ajax when he was Head Coach. The great rapport between player and coach will assist Norodien in acclimatising to life at a club of Pirates’ stature, something that will be key if the lad is to avoid the fate that has befallen many a talented youngster, that moved to a big club and failed to receive the necessary tutelage to convert potential into regular displays of elite level ability. Orlando Pirates have now elected themselves to be entrusted with the responsibility of developing Riyaad Norodien into the top-class talent that his potential promises he will be, as custodians of such a great talent, the organisation can reap great rewards if they invest wisely in his development into the player we know he can become.

Riyaad Norodien

Bio

DoB: March 26th, 1995 (21)

PoB: Kensington, Cape Town; Western Cape

Nationality: South African

Caps & Goals: u/23 International | 3 Caps

Position/s: Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista, Inside Forward, Winger (L/R/C)

Height: 1, 68m

Preferred Foot: Either

Club: Orlando Pirates Football Club

Jersey No: #95

Former Club: Ajax Cape Town Football Club

Development Nest: Ajax Cape Town Youth Development

2015/16 Club Stats: 28 Games, 1 Goal & 5 Assists

Total Career Stats: 34 Games, 3 Goals & 5 Assists

GSV Deal Grader: Steve Lekoelea from Moroka Swallows to Orlando Pirates in of 1997 (4/5)

Orlando Pirates are a club that love their good attacking players, and Riyaad Norodien will provide the club with something many South African teams tend to lack, a natural left-sided player that brings dimension to the offensive unit by providing a different angle for deliveries or shooting chances in attack. The competition for starting places at a team like Orlando Pirates will always be tight, regardless of the phase the team is in; during this minor rebuild, players will be even more incentivised to prove their quality and readiness to fight for an opportunity to play regularly. Riyaad Norodien brings a unique set of abilities that are tailor-made to allow him to flourish in a thriving Orlando Pirates side, the youngster could go down in history as one of the best players to wear the Bucs jersey in the modern era once all is said and done.

Strengths

Skilful players are a dime a dozen in South Africa, yet we still find it hard to develop our dribbling wizards into technically gifted professionals that also possess the physical and tactical dexterity needed to excel at the elite level. Riyaad Norodien is an outrageously gifted technical footballer that seems able to do whatever he wishes on the ball, the playmaker has the ability to weave his way out of tight situations and beat his marker with relative ease. When you consider his high talent ceiling and the incredible scope for growth he is blessed with, one cannot help but feel as if Riyaad is perfectly positioned to become a genuine star in the coming seasons for club and country. A nimble midfielder with the pace to out gas most defenders in the league, Norodien has the ability to be effective on and off the ball, something that marks him out as a premier attacking outlet in the making.

Weaknesses

Great ability is nothing without the mental aptitude to apply oneself towards using those God given gifts to the best of one’s ability, Riyaad’s mentality was questioned when he took his former employer to court in an attempt to server ties with the club and seek gainful employment elsewhere. The determination he showed to overcome those obstacles is commendable, but now the spotlight will be on how he handles the pressure of playing for such a prestigious club. One weakness most modern players make is reading too much into media reports, and often using those very same outlets and channels to get themselves into trouble by saying something that is almost always taken out of context. Riyaad will need to show more control of his overall business as a player, in a city where the media cycle and supporter interest is double what he was experiencing in Cape Town, we would like to read about Riyaad as it pertains to his on-field exploits and not what may be occurring off the field and affecting his image as a promising young star for the future.

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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

GSV Wunderkind Watching; A Jewel, Jeff Reine-Adelaide

Jeff Reine-Adelaide(RC Lens)
A Product Of Sang et Or | Jeff Reine-Adelaide
UEFA European Under-17 Championship - France Portraits
A Future Les Bleus Star | Jeff Reine-Adelaide

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.

#TheTalentScout

Jeff Reine-Adelaide

Bio

DoB: January 17th, 1998 (17)

PoB: Champigny-sur-Marne, Paris; France

Nationality: French

Caps & Goals: N/A (French u/16 & u/17 International)

Position/s: Winger, Advanced Playmaker, Attacking Midfielder, Trequartista (Left, Right, Centre)

Preferred Foot: Right

Club: Arsenal FC

Club Jersey No: #54

Club Appearances & Goals: N/A (In the Arsenal u/21 side)

Development Academy: RC Lens u/19 (France)

Talent Scout Report

Mental: Modern football demands that wide players possess the ability to create quality goalscoring opportunities, as most teams tend to play with one forward upfront and pack the midfield or overload the defensive end; Jeff seems tailor-made to excel on the flanks with his artistic like levels of creativity and the flair to do the unthinkable with the ball at his feet, such class is highlighted when combined with his exemplary knowledge of when to dribble and how to exploit the space created or afforded. The all-round hallmark of Reine-Adelaide’s mental game is the fact that he makes good decisions for a lad his age; creative players have often been unfortunately branded as “luxury players” due to a perceived lack of overall team ethic, Jeff seems to defy that tag with his great determination and drive on the field.

The one evident flaw in Jeff’s overall mental game is one that is common in many young players today; a poor sense of positional play without possession and distinctive or definitive movement off-the-ball can often result in a good attacking player becoming easier to contain for a defensive unit, while such traits are essential for an attacking player in the modern game, they are also very coachable and possible to master.

Physical: If we have learned anything from the advancement of gegenpressing and the evolution of tiki-taka, it’s that pace hurts opponents in ways they cannot contain; Jeff easily stands out as a star for the future in this category, blessed with great athleticism and bags of pace to boot, one cannot help but feel as if the lad could develop into the type of player defenders loathe to face and managers love to have. As we have often noted in other speedy footballers before, pace and acceleration can be wasted on a player without balance or agility to make full use of that athletic advantage; Reine-Adelaide adds immeasurable value with his ability to run hard while still adding a distinct quality on the field, such athleticism will put the lad in good stead for a future in the fast paced English Premier League.

Excelling in such a physical league will require more work in the gym for Jeff, he has a great build for a wide player and the addition of more meat on to his bones will make him truly uncontainable for fullbacks far and wide; again, this is something he can work on and add to his overall game over time, with effort invested.

Technical: One thing you can guarantee from a player co-signed by Arsène Wenger, is an evident degree of technical dexterity and quality; Jeff is a gifted dribbler of the ball, his outstanding fist touch and technical control of the football combine to make for an artist with paintbrushes for feet. We have seen many a gifted ball-player fail to make the grade at the elite level due to a lack of end-product, Jeff seems to defy the odds yet again with his accurate delivery from wide positions and a keen eye for shooting chances when penetrating into the attacking third.

If one were to look for a flaw in Reine-Adelaide’s technical make-up, it could be found in his passing game, the lad will surely be taught how to get more involved in the intricate build-up play preferred at Arsenal and that addition to his arsenal would be invaluable as he seeks to develop into a star footballer for club and country in the future.

GSV Potential Meter: 4/5 Tsamaya’s

What Happened To That Boi; The Momentous Misfortune Of Michael Johnson

From Hot Prospect To Hot Property Mover | #TradingPlaces
From Hot Prospect To Hot Property Mover | #TradingPlaces
City's Unforgettable Forgotten Man | Micheal Johnson
City’s Unforgettable Forgotten Man | Michael Johnson

Being the very vocal advocates for youth development that we are, we need to accept all the possible downsides to more and more people embracing the notion of investing in younger players and their development with the belief that this ideology will always afford the beautiful game a solid foundation for growth. With all those positives brought into consideration, it’s not a rarity for one to see many young players succumbing to the heavy expectations paced on them and the media circus that comes with being so gifted in this age of technology and the increased pressure to perform at a level that justifies the increased levels of remuneration, for so many diverse and often bizarre reasons an alarming number of these players ultimately fail to become the super talents that people predicted they would be and thus the common question in the barroom over a pint as the football plays, “what happened to that boi?”

Introduced himself as

A technically adept midfield general who seemed primed to become yet another star English box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Paul Scholes and Ray Parlour before him; blessed with the engine to run his socks off for an entire game and still look up for another run-out, Michael Johnson was the young British midfield general poised to become a star for both club and country, after spells with various sides at youth level, the promising youngster signed for Manchester City in 2004 as a 16 year old sensation who had already been capped for England at u/16 level.

The 20th graduate out of the Manchester City academy into the first team squad, Johnson took his great promise from the youth ranks onto the elite stage and looked at home marshalling the midfield in a squad that had a good mix of youth and experience to make for a competitive and educational environment. Michael Johnson made his debut for City in October of 2006 away to Wigan Athletic as gaffer Stuart Pearce showed his faith in a young lad that had recently captained the City Academy side, in the absence of Micah Richards, as they finished runners-up in the 2006 FA Youth Cup final. His debut was not a memorable one as the side lost 4-0 at the JJB stadium and Johnson had to wait until March of 2007 for his second start for City in a 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough, it begun a healthy run of 7 consecutive games in the starting unit and his great run in the side came to an end as a hamstring injury ruled him out for a clash against Aston Villa.

Michael Johnson netted his 1st senior goal for City on the 15th of August in 2007 as they beat Derby County 1-0 at home; the goal was City’s first league strike at home since the turn of the new year, it also marked the start of Johnson’s injury troubles as he then missed the remainder of 2007 and the start of 2008 with an abdominal injury while also undergoing a double-hernia operation during the layoff. Returning to action in a nil-all draw against the club he made his debut against, Wigan Athletic, Johnson finished the 2007-2008 season in decent form and was looking back to full match fitness.

Where did it go wrong?

The injection of resources and highly recruited international players did not seem to deter the Umston born lad as he combined well in a free flowing and competitive midfield trio that included Stephen Ireland and Elano; yet his injury troubles begun to flare up again as a recurrence of his abdominal injury in a League Cup loss to Brighton & Hove Albion on the 24th of September 2008 ruled him out for competitive football for 7 months. Johnson failed to feature for the first team for the remainder of the season and his return in a pre-season match against Orlando Pirates was his last appearance for the club for a further couple of months as he picked up a strain in the warm-up for the Kaizer Chiefs clash during the clubs tour of South Africa. After a year out of the side, Johnson returned to the City first team on the 28th of September 2009 as a substitute in a 3-1 win over West Ham United. His resurgence was short lived as the club announced on December 10th that Johnson had suffered a serious knee injury during training that would rule him out for months and see him miss the remainder of the season.

A season long loan to Leicester City for the 2011-12 season was cut short in January of 2012 when he sustained yet another injury after making 9 appearances for the Championship side. That marked the end of a promising career plagued by injuries for a talented young player that had immense ability and the potential to become one of the best midfield players to come out of English football in his generation. Michael Johnson was released from his professional contract in December of 2012, the 24 year old was then a reasonably regressed version of himself as a footballer and seemingly beaten as a young man who had the world at his feet as a teenager; recording a measly four competitive appearances in his final 5 seasons under contract at City, there was little to smile about with the once promising youngster failing to make a single appearance in his last 3 seasons at the club.

The legend

We have seen Manchester City take a proactive stance when it comes to youth development in recent times, yet the City youth academy will be renowned for producing one of the greatest young footballers never to star for England; until they rewrite the wrongs on the past, Johnson was mentally underdeveloped for the elite level and his physical fragilities could have been better managed by the club, Manchester City will always have the stench of Michael Johnson’s unfulfilled potential lingering around their expensive and aesthetically pleasing youth facilities. The football legacy of Michael Johnson might be one of a great talent that never quite materialised, yet the man is living proof that the game can make or break a young man and only the strong survive either fate.

The life away from football has not been without front page headlines for the former England youth international as his personal life has been made a spectacle of by the media who seem fine with beating a man with his own broom while he is down; the player admitted to being under treatment for mental health issues for years, such are the challenges on the other end of the young superstar in the making spectrum. While he has successfully rebuilt his life away from football, Johnson now seeks to be left alone to live his life in peace and that is not too much to ask for a man that has taken enough stick to build a bonfire that could warm the Antarctica. Besides, not many real estate agents can boast the experience of having been a Premier League footballer to their list of accolades and Bob’s your FC Manchester shareholding uncle with a season ticket at Old Trafford.

Michael Johnson

Bio

DoB: March 3rd, 1988 (27)

PoB: Urmston, Trafford, Greater Manchester; England, United kingdom

Nationality: English

Caps & Goals: N/A (England u/16, u/19 & u/21 International)

Position/s: Deep-Lying Playmaker, Box-To-Box Midfielder, Ball-Winning Midfielder

Height: 1, 83m

Preferred Foot: Right

Current Club: Free Agent

Market Value: R 5 600 000

Previous Clubs: Manchester City, Leicester City (loan)

Youth Clubs: Leeds United, SBV Excelsior, Everton, Manchester City

Career Club Record: 59 Games, 3 Goals, 6 Assists