Many would say the last 12 months has seen a change in the way young footballers from Premier League clubs kick off their careers. They believe instead of going to the lower leagues, or sitting on the bench, it helps to take their talents abroad, and Watford’s Dodi Lukebakio stats show he is taking the same initiative.
Dodi Lukebakio – Watford’s One to Watch
The Bundesliga is now getting a new image. Before, it was once the league of competition, but in recent years Bayern Munich have had a monopoly. The buy huge stars, and snap up the youngsters that are beginning to make a name for themselves. More recently though, the youth are spreading out more evenly. Jadon Sancho, Reiss Nelson and Reece Oxford have all had (with differing success) time in the league at different clubs. Watford’s Dodi Lukebakio, however, is a little less known.
Dodi Lukebakio stats – Watford and the early years
Born in Asse, Belgium, Lukebakio joined the Anderlecht youth academy as a youngster. Well known for producing stars like Romelu and Jordan Lukaku, and Vincent Kompany, Lukebakio made his way through the academy. During this time, the youngster played alongside other prospects in Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker, who have recently secured moves to the Premier League. In 2015, he signed his professional contract, and played 17 games for the first team.
After relatively unsuccessful loan spells, Lukebakio joined Watford. He played only once for the first team however.
When looking at Dodi Lukebakio’s stats in the seasons before joining the German side, they weren’t overly impressive. The Belgian had played 42 league games and scored 4 goals. He played 1 game in the Europa league for Anderlecht. In a short loan spell in France, Lukebakio played a total of 87 minutes for Toulouse and totalled just 3 shots
Dodi Lukebakio stats – Fortuna Dusseldorf and a breakout season
In July 2018, Dodi Lukebakio signed for Fortuna Dusseldorf on a season long loan and immediately started making an impact. After 5 substitute appearances out of 7, Lukebakio had already scored 2 goals, including the winning penalty against a strong Hoffenheim team. This gave the manager more faith in him, and he started featuring more regularly, and posted good numbers, having high shot counts and making a number of progressive dribbles including 12 in one game against Borussia M.Gladbach.
Dodi Lukebakio Hat trick
The winger really made his name, though, in the 3-3 draw against Bayern Munich back in 2018. Scoring all 3 goals with the composure of a veteran, his talents were shown to the world. His first goal came with a stroke of luck, but the movement in the box and ability to read to ball first showed a good awareness of the game. The second showed an ability to beat the high line and offside trap, and the raw pace break away. All this while carrying the ball, just to slot it home past one of the greatest goalkeepers ever to grace the game in Manuel Neuer. The third, again showing the pace and awareness seen before, but also the balance to hold off 97kg Niklas Sule!
This hat trick showed a number of sides to Lukebakio’s games, pace, power, strength, dribbling ability and the ability to finish as well. All signs of a good striker. Breaking records as well, being the first Bundesliga player in 17 years to score a hat trick against Bayern, and the first to put 3 past Manuel Neuer!
Dodi Lukebakio stats – play style
This season so far, Watford’s Lukebakio has 7 goals and 1 assist from 1036 minutes of football, averaging a goal contribution every 129.5 minutes. He doesn’t take unnecessary shots, only 2.8 per 90 minutes.
Looking away from goals and assists though, many would suggest that his stand out talent is the ability to dribble with the ball. Something stats do not show is skill, and Lukebakio has plenty of that. Countless clips and YouTube videos showing his skills and tricks are out there, from small games to Bundesliga games he is comfortable taking players on. He’s averaging 4.4 dribbles per 90 minutes (2.8 successful), which is top 10 for players in the Bundesliga for players with over 10 appearances. He’s equally comfortable taking the ball down the line and cutting inside.
The Belgian can provide as well, averaging an 80% pass success rate against Bayern Munich and 95.2% in the game against RB Leipzig, and having strong crossing ability
Friedhelm Funkel, Fortuna Dusseldorf head coach, said upon his signing: “Dodi Lukebakio is a fast player with good technique. He has a great development potential…”
Dodi Lukebakio stats and the future
Lukebakio has played 12 times for the Belgium under 21s and scored 4 goals. His loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf is set to expire at the end of this season and he will have a decision to make. Stay in Germany and learn the trade, or try again in the Premier League. Whatever he does, Dodi Lukebakio’s mixture of talent, physicality and skills means he is definitely One to Watch.
EDIT: Since publishing this article, Lukebakio’s stats have been further hitting the headlines. After an assist in the 3-0 win against Stuttgart, he was named in WhoScored’s Under-21s team of the week. He made 5 dribbles, had 4 shots and won 2 aerials