Scout Report: Noni Madueke by Krithin M
England’s recent successes at the youth level on the European and world stage has been no serendipity. The England squad has an embarrassment of riches in terms of talented young footballers. While Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood and Bukayo Saka have been getting regular first-team football in the Premier League, Noni Madueke has been turning up the noise on his name in the Eredivisie away from the spotlight and scrutiny of the big leagues. Madueke has already scored six goals from just eight games this season. What makes Madueke special? Why are all the top clubs in Europe gunning for his signature? Let’s find out in this tactical analysis which will be a scout report on the young forward.
Name: Chukwunonso Noni Tristan Madueke
Date of Birth: 10 March 2002 (19 years)
Position: Right Winger in a 442/4222
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.76 cm)
Born: Barnet, North London, England
Nationality: English (Nigerian descent)
Youth: Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, PSV (2018-2019)
Signed: PSV in 2018 on a free transfer
Squad number: 10 (23 previously)
Preferred foot: Left
Market Value: €16.00 million (From TransferMarket)
Chukwunonso Noni Tristan Madueke began his youth career at Crystal Palace; he moved to the Tottenham youth team in 2014. Madueke’s talent was evident from a very young age, making his U-18 debut at the tender age of 15. Madueke was also the captain in most of his youth teams. He left Tottenham Hotspur’s academy to join PSV at the age of 16 in a free transfer, rejecting an offer from Manchester United in the process; in hindsight, the decision seems to be a masterstroke. Madueke played a solitary season in the youth team (Jong PSV), scoring four goals in six games. His impressive performances earned him a promotion to the first team in January 2020. He made 28 appearances in the league in 2020-2021 where he scored seven goals and provided six assists.
Style of play:
Madueke fundamentally plays as a right winger in a 442 variant (4222 in possession). Though, he was used as a center forward or number 10 in youth football because he was usually the best player on the team. He made the transition to right winger after inputs from his coaches who noticed his ability to take on defenders and drive the ball forward (Ruud Van Nistelrooy; the current manager of Jong PSV).
Madueke ticks all the boxes that make an elite winger; he combines flair and trickery with directness, showing eagerness to drive the ball forward and taking on defenders to create imbalances. He is a technically refined footballer with excellent shooting technique and close control.
Madueke combines his flair and marvellous technical ability with directness and verticality. He shows constant willingness to drive the ball forward by taking on players, creating imbalances by taking advantage of numerical superiorities. His flair, close control, acceleration, agility and strength makes him menacing in attacking transitions. Bestowed upon with a peach of a left foot and remarkable shooting technique, Madueke has already exceeded expectations with his goal-scoring exploits. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Arsène Wenger once said that a footballer is made of 4 pillars: technical ability, physical ability, tactical ability and mental ability. I will discuss each of these 4 sections with respect to Noni Madueke in detail. Within each of these sections, I will try to highlight his strengths and some areas with scope for improvement.
While analysing the technical ability, I’m looking at how well the player performs a desired objective on the field regardless of whether the action involves interaction with the ball or not. I’m purely concerned with the effectiveness of the said action and not its flair or beauty. Good technical ability is the foundation for a great footballer.
It is not exclusive to the action; it involves what happens before the sequence. It is not limited to the moment on the ball but includes what happens before receiving it. Even a simple action like making a pass has a lot of intricacies. Football is a dynamic game with a lot of variance, a player’s technical ability must be adaptable to all the different scenarios presented before him.
Noni Madueke is a technically refined player with minimal technical flaws in his game. His one touch passing, control and feel for the ball is very good. His first touch is exquisite and his second touch is also consistent. His first touch always puts him in control of the ball. He touches the ball in the right direction as opposed to controlling the ball and then moving the ball towards the right direction. He doesn’t require the extra touch to set himself up; he always positions himself to attack as soon as he receives the ball. He can control the ball with both the outside and the inside of the foot.
He uses his strong left foot to shoot, make passes and carry the ball. He is not ambidextrous; he doesn’t shoot and make difficult passes with his right foot. He only uses his right foot to support his left foot while carrying the ball and dribbling. More than 85% of his shots are taken from his left foot, of the 10 goals he has scored in the league 9 of them have been from his left foot.
Madueke has a natural ball-striking ability. He requires very little backlift while shooting; he hits through the ball to generate impressive power with seemingly little effort. He is assured in his finishing, consistently hitting bottom corners. Most of his shots are towards the goalkeeper’s right, with sufficient bend on them to beat the goalkeeper. His goals are reminiscent of Arjen Robben’s trademark finishes; he often tends to cut in from the right through the half-spaces, from where he can shoot or pick out a teammate.
He generates shots for himself by dribbling out of pressure and manages to get the ball off his feet very quickly. In the example below, Madueke receives the ball with three defenders in front of him. He manages to create a yard of space and get the ball off his feet before the defenders can put in a block. Madueke consistently manages shoot from positions in which most players wouldn’t.
While talking about dribbling I’m referring to his ability to beat players and carry the ball. Madueke is an accomplished dribbler with proficient close control, exhibiting quick footwork and flair in tight spaces. He predominantly uses his left foot to manipulate the ball and uses his right foot for support. He can dribble towards either side of a player, making it extremely hard to defend against him.
There is a tendency among young footballers to rely on ball manipulation a lot more than body manipulation to beat a player but, Madueke can turn players without touching the ball just by manipulating his body shape.
His dribbling volume is high; not as high as the likes of Neymar, but very healthy numbers for a winger. Consistency in productivity is as important as the volume of the productivity; consistency is a cause of concern among young footballers. However, this doesn’t seem to be a problem with Madueke, his output is reasonably consistent. Even though he attempts a lot of difficult dribbles, his dribble completion rate hovers around 55%.
He is a proactive ball carrier, i.e. most of his carries are progressive. He drives the ball forward with speed and conviction. He is comfortable receiving the ball on the run and sets himself up to attack with very few touches. He predominantly uses his left foot to carry the ball and keeps the ball close to his feet. His touches are very consistent; he doesn’t make loose touches while running with the ball. Even when he is running very fast, he always keeps the ball in control.
Madueke is reassured at dribbling out of pressure; due to his remarkable close control and footwork he can manipulate ball and beat defenders comfortably under pressure. He is also capable of manipulating the ball using stepovers and larger touches (knocking the ball past a player into space ).
Scope for improvement:
Although he is an accomplished dribbler, he can develop tunnel vision and overdo it. However, such instances are infrequent and are typical for a player of his experience or lack thereof.
Though not very incisive in his passing, Madueke can spot short passes and through balls and execute them precisely. His short passes are well directed with appropriate weight and played to the strong foot of teammates. He looks to play quick 1-2s with other forwards and can execute them when he is in motion. His link up play is good when he is not under pressure. He can also pick out passes into the box after cutting in from the left.
His passing accuracy hovers around 80% which is quite impressive for a player of his profile and age. He plays linebreaking passes into the final 3rd looking for the CF and makes a run into space or behind the defensive line to receive the pass.
Madueke’s touch is consistent and he can control passes with both the inside and the outside of his foot which makes him a very safe passing option. He receives high and cross field passes well, his touches usually set him up to attack instantly.
Scope for improvement:
When Madueke receives the ball on his right side he tends to turn his body position so that he can use his dominant left foot to control and manipulate the ball, so he needs that extra second/touch when the ball is passed to his weak side.
His passing is suboptimal when he is under pressure; he fails to spot the easy pass options and tries to dribble out of pressure.
While referring to the physical ability of a player, I’m looking at all the biomechanical aspects of the player like speed (linear and nonlinear), power, strength, acceleration, agility, jumping, balance, endurance, and the functional application of these aspects on the pitch.
Noni Madueke’s linear speed is impressive; he will beat most center backs in a sprint with relative ease. Some players like Gareth Bale are good sprinters but aren’t as quick while running with the ball. But, this is not the case with Madueke. Madueke’s non-linear speed is impressive; the difference in linear and non-linear runs isn’t substantial.
Owing to his size and build, Madueke is very strong on the ball. He is not muscled off the ball easily. His acceleration is remarkable; he can effortlessly pull away and maintain distance from his markers.
Furthermore, Madueke is a very agile player, and his turns and half turns are very swift due to his hip flexibility. He doesn’t project his movement, which makes it hard for defenders to defend against his turns. Consequently, Madueke can turn players without touching the ball just by manipulating his body shape.
Madueke is not an aerial threat and he doesn’t engage in aerial duels frequently however, he manages to position himself well to contest for the second ball.
Scope for improvement:
During his first few seasons, Madueke has usually been brought on in the second half to run at tired legs and maximize his impact. His endurance and stamina might be a cause of concern.
His aerial ability and jumping could improve a lot. He keeps his arms close to his body (he might be trying to avoid fouls). Due to this, his hang time is short.
While referring to the tactical ability of a footballer, I’m looking at decision making, how well he reads the game, positional discipline, understanding of team shape in and out of position, awareness, negotiation, and manipulation of space.
Under Roger Schmidt, PSV set up in a 442 or 4222 variant with an aggressive, high-intensity playstyle. Madueke occupies the RW position on the pitch but he consistently drifts in and maintains a central tendency to shoot with his favored left foot.
Madueke’s understanding of attacking shape is satisfactory for a player of his age and experience. If the ball is in a different area of the pitch, he does not pursue the ball. He stays wide and aids the team to stretch the field as his gravity makes the opposition CBs and FBs stay honest to their position.
It is common for young footballers to lose patience and seek the ball when they haven’t received it for some time. But, this is not the case with Madueke; from the small sample size of games that I have analyzed, there weren’t any instances of him trying too hard to get on the ball.
Most footballers only have the ball at their feet for an average of 3 minutes in a game; we need to look at what the player does in the other 87 minutes. A lot of young footballers like to have the ball at their feet. But, Madueke can make a difference even without the ball at his feet. He is proactive in finding and creating space for others. His off-ball movement is splendid, and he consistently makes decoy runs to drag defenders away from play and escape his markers.
Madueke identifies and exploits space effectively; he identifies space between the lines and makes himself available to receive the ball, turn and drive the ball forward. He also picks out the right moment to drop between the lines or make a run in behind.
Madueke’s judgment of defensive shape is adequate. He likes to position himself to block passing lanes but, he can get overzealous and step out to make challenges.
He is quick to get involved in the game and reads the match situation well after coming on as a substitute. He takes risks and creates imbalances taking advantage of numerical overloads and taking on players. Instead of playing himself into the game and waiting for things to happen, he takes the initiative to make things happen.
Adaptability is a crucial aspect of a footballer’s game; how does he perform against different levels of opposition and various formations and setups. Madueke does well in this regard; he seems to perform well against the big teams equally well.
Scope for improvement:
Technical skill without proper decision making is futile. Madueke’s decision-making has a lot of scope for improvement. He can get selfish sometimes; he tries to dribble when other better options are available. His immediate reaction when he receives the ball during transitions is to attack. It isn’t always beneficial to attack as soon as receiving the ball. It could result in turnovers for the opposition, or he could run out of options. Albeit a small sample size, Madueke struggles against teams that set up in a back 3. In games against Benfica, Willem, Vitesse, and Feyenoord he failed to create any significant impact.
While referring to a footballer’s mental ability, I am talking about his confidence, maturity, and determination.
Madueke’s decision to move to PSV from Tottenham youth teams in July 2018 despite interest from Manchester United and a few other clubs is a testament to his desire to succeed. Madueke has made it up out of a footballing system that demands survival of the fittest. This move also manifests the supreme confidence he has in his abilities.
The confidence of the pitch is translated on the field as well; Madueke shows few nerves against the best of oppositions. He drives the ball with conviction, takes on players, and isn’t afraid to pull the trigger when he is in range. He sees himself as the difference-maker when he comes on the pitch; when the team is behind he takes it upon himself to change the game. He doesn’t let his mistakes impact his next actions.
Madueke is not intimidated by hard challenges; his response to set backs is very good . He can go to ground on a few occasions but, he doesn’t spend too much time on the ground.
Mental ability is very hard to asses and I don’t know Madueke personally so this section is to be taken with a pich of salt.
Through this tactical analysis we have taken a look at Noni Madueke’s abilities in detail. Madueke’s technical ability is too good for him not to succed it all comes down his tactical ability and menatl ability. How hard does he want to succeed? Is he willing to make sacrifices and tough decisions for it? By the looks of it he seems to be doing well. If he keeps up his form he won’t stay at PSV for long but, I feel a few more years at PSV would be best for his development.
~ Krithin M