Football is a universal language. Stars are born on every continent, and African players are no different. Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are tearing up the Premier League goal charts. Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly is being consistently mentioned as one of the world’s best centre backs. We posted an article on Achraf Hakimi, Morocco’s young defender, now there is another young Moroccan making a name for himself. Leganes striker Youssef En-Nesyri’s stats show he is one to watch. So here is FootballOwls analysis of why En-Nesyri can make it to the top.

En-Nesyri stats – youth career and Malaga

Born in Fez, Morocco in 1997, En-Nesyri started playing football at Maghreb AS. From there he joined the Mohammed VI Academy team, designed for the “prospecting and coaching of budding geniuses” in Morocco. After staying there for several years, he took his chance and moved his talents to Spain. He proceeded to sign a contract at Malaga (incidentally only an 8 hour drive from his home town). Playing in reserves at first, he scored 6 goals in 6 appearances for the Malaga B team. That year they almost won promotion to the Segunda B.

En-Nesyri had a difficult time in his two senior seasons at Malaga. Scoring just 1 goal in 13 substitute appearences in the first season meant he never got the chance in the team. In the second, the striker had his chance in the team, and scored 4 goals in 1593 minutes of football. A good start but sadly not enough to prevent Los Boquerones from relegation, finishing in 20th and losing 74% of their games.

En-Nesyri stats – summer 2018 and World Cup

After a disappointing end to the previous season, August 2018 saw En-Nesyri move further north to Leganes. Signed on a 5 year contract, the summer months were special for the Moroccan. Having represented his country 15 times previously, the youngster was awarded with a call up for the 2018 World Cup. Unable to grab a start, he was substituted on against Spain, where he was able to score with his head after rising high above Sergio Ramos.

En-Nesyri stats – Leganes

The striker returned to Spain and came back to the reality of a young player in a top flight club. Playing just 352 minutes out of a possible 1080, he had to sit and watch as Leganes won only 2 of their first 12 games. His breakthrough finally came in the win against Deportivo Alaves who, up to this point, had won 7 of their first 12 games and were challenging for the top spot. He scored the only goal in the 1-0 win. After this, he got more faith from the manager, and has started every game since (12/12).

His big breakthrough started in the beginning of 2019. In 5 games, En-Nesyri contributed to 8 goals, and topped it off with a sensational hat trick. The three goals showed his natural talent to find the net. One with a sublime touch to control from a corner to finish, and two after beating the offside trap and dribbling with pace,

En-Nesyri stats – 2018/2019

The striker is a tall player, standing at 183cm, and so he is able to provide an aerial threat. En-Nesyri stats show he wins 5.9 aerials per game – only 2 forwards in La Liga have more (Guido Carillo has the most, also at Leganes). The 21-year-old takes a high number of shots – 2.7 shots per game, only 6 players in La Liga have more (including Messi, Suarez, Griezmann, and Bale). He can help the defence, attempting on average 1.5 tackles per game, only 3 forwards have more.

En-Nesyri took 7 shots against Real Betis (WhoScored)

En-Nesyri – Play style analysis

A powerful striker is known for bullying players off the ball, and generating power in their shots, and that is something that En-Nesyri excels at. He can jump incredibly high, makes tackles and can score goals with such power that the ball finds the net from distance or through a number of players. What makes him stand out, however, is his ability to make streaking runs into the box. He’s quick and able to beat the offside trap. The Moroccan is tall, but is just as comfortable with the ball at his feet showing good balance when dribbling. When watching footage of his play style, it’s not too difficult to compare to a young Cristiano Ronaldo, although the dribbling and ability to beat players one-on-one is slightly lacking.

En-Nesyri – The Future

The hat trick put Youssef En-Nesri on the global stage. The striker is currently the second most in form young player in Europe according to WhoScored. Ahead of Mbappe and Donnarumma, he is behind only Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. There is a long way to go for En-Nesyri, the second half of the season won’t be easy for Leganes, but there is a lot of promise. A good run for him and Morocco in the African Cup of Nations would prove promising as well. He is definitely one to watch

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Categories: One to Watch