In 2015, history was made in the world of football, after the acquisition of the Ghana-based Right To Dream youth academy by the Danish club FC Nordsjaelland. Under the world’s watchful eye, things grew day by day, until today when it has become one of the best academies to develop African players, but also one of the best clubs in the world to develop players from all around the globe: Nordsjaelland have the youngest squad in all Europe, and are currently sitting on the top of the Danish league after 17 matches, putting themselves in with a chance of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League next season.
Among the players developed in the ‘FCN’ academy, we can find very talented names with a lot of potential such as Mikkel Damsgaard, Club Brugge’s Andreas Skov Olsen, Mohammed Kudus which has been a vital part of Ajax, Kamaldeen Sulemana or Simon Adingra, who are playing at great teams in Europe after their time at the Danish team. Currently, they have a large squad in terms of talent and interesting players for many leagues around the world, which could be putting an eye on them, and one of the most exciting is their centre-forward, Ernest Appiah Nuamah.
At just 19 years old, Ernest Nuamah, a Ghanaian native, has become a key player for the league leaders, thanks to his goals and a rather explosive way of playing football, as well as a talent that overflows in every movement he makes on the pitch. His move from his native Ghana, from the Right To Dream academy, became official on this year’s 1st of January, where he would spend time playing in the ‘FCN’ U19 team but would start this season as a regular starter, with a lot of confidence put on himself and his capabilities.
He has scored five goals in 16 games, also registering three assists so far this season. It is for this reason and for multiple details in his game, that we will carry out a tactical analysis and scout report piece to take an in-depth look at the strengths that Ernest Nuamah possesses inside Nordsjealland’s tactics, and his weaknesses, to get to know a really talented and promising player who could be on his way for a big transfer move soon.
Data Profile: Where does Ernest Nuamah standout?
To begin the analysis, we will review Ernest Nuamah’s statistical profile, we must start with what many traditionally measure forwards by: goals and finishing. The Ghanaian player shows interesting numbers here, averaging more than 0.30 goals every 90 minutes, and more than 0.40 expected goals every 90 minutes. This means that he receives and generates quite a few opportunities during the match, but has been a little irregular in his finishing, a detail we are going to see later in this article.
On the other side, let’s start reviewing what his production has been like for his colleagues. Has he created chances? Is he a player who is in contact with the ball?
Well, the statistics give a very interesting preview of what Nuamah is on the field: a striker who usually takes the ball and makes promising passes to his teammates creating chances, as well as passes that can end up being an assist.
The following graph tells us what Nuamah looks for when he has the ball at his feet, as well as passes. The 19-year-old player is the centre forward in the league with the most dribbles per 90 minutes, with almost 7.5.
In addition to being, by little, the second player with the most forward carries in that position, only behind Lucas Andersen.
Finally, how many times does Nuamah enter the opponent’s box during matches and finish off? Well, he is one of the players who does this the most in the league, generating many shots — and despite contributing to his teammates with passes and also carrying the ball or dribbling, he is very high in touches inside the penalty area.
So, we realise from these four samples within the statistics that Ernest Nuamah is usually quite a dangerous striker in the penalty area, who generates many shots, but is also self-sufficient to take the ball, generate chances and look to assist his teammates, as well as dribble through the pitch. However, let’s go tactically deeper into what Ernest Nuamah can offer as a player.
Explosiveness and intensity off the ball
Ernest Nuamah stands out mainly for his speed and explosiveness which help him to constantly overcome many offensive duels on the field against players with an even stronger build than him, but he manages to pass them thanks to his power and his long runs on the ball, that he normally performs after dropping from his line to look for the ball in the middle third, before turning and moving forward with a lot of speed.
When he takes the ball and tends to run, he doesn’t change direction much. This makes it a bit predictable when he starts since he visualizes a destination and that is the one he moves towards, but due to his high speed, he is unstoppable for many who have to defend against the dribbler. especially in open space. He has a very similar kind of movement when running to Sadio Mané, stretching his leg to touch the ball, slowing down and speeding up several times in a matter of seconds.
As a result, Nuamah tends to play a mobile role within FC Nordsjaelland’s tactics. When his team looks to create chances, it is already common and something typical that when they settle in the attacking third, he moves to receive in the wide spaces as a winger. Due to his ability in 1v1s and electric pace, he has the capacity to play there.
After controlling the ball, he usually attracts more than three or four players, which is why he seeks to retain the ball with his dribbling, and he does it very well with movements to the sides seeking to get out of tight spaces to pass the ball to a teammate open over the flanks.
His supports after leaving his zone are normally playing with his back turned, since he looks to receive like this, and then carrying out an oriented control or a total turn of his body to leave his vision facing the goal. Nuamah’s intentions are really good and interesting to dynamise his team’s possessions. However, they need to be more accurate on the executions, as his passes aren’t that decent normally. His first touch is usually quite good and clean but the ones he offers later in the run can be a bit more aggressive, and he loses balance on the ball.
Although due to his low centre of gravity and short legs, the speed of his footwork makes it difficult to be dispossessed, so he saves himself from not losing the ball.
The actions are divided between fast combinations with his teammates, as well as with long ball retentions, which can take more time. Nonetheless, his dribbling ability is so unpredictable, coupled with very impulsive speed, which helps him to work his way out of congested areas that he himself sought to enter.
In the example below, Ernest Nuamah previously received a pass further forward than the zone he is now in; he has fully rotated his body, waiting for two players to dribble through, to escape from there and then face 1v1 the next player up front, who performs a foul. It is another of the important facets of his game, given his aggressive pace, which offers constant rhythm changes and wins many free kicks due to his dynamism and elasticity with the ball.
He has greatly internalized within his game, the feint before receiving the ball since this distances him from the players who look to mark him closely. He first shows his weak foot, the right one, making believe the defender that he’s going to control the ball with this, but then he receives with his left — a resource that helps him hide the ball and gain meters to be able to turn his body, without opponents nearby.
Being short in stature and with ectomorph athleticism, he can be outmatched in more physical duels or holding back players with his back. However, he has been growing in his technique to hold and then turn, which has been worked under his technique on the ball.
Lately, Nuamah has been evolving in terms of raising his head and seeing more options that he can find to contribute with assists or generate chances from his pass.
Since he usually gains a lot of time and space with his speed, the Ghanaian in recent games has grown in this department, which is why we can find him throwing passes between the lines to his teammates, especially Andreas Schjelderup, the left winger. He sees that he is the one he finds on his natural side, outlined to execute passes with his left foot.
In conclusion of the on-the-ball section, Ernest Nuamah proves to be a threat every time he receives the ball and a player who, with his speed, dribbling and creativity, generates a lot of dynamism for his team’s possessions. There are aspects to improve, of course, but he could evolve into a very interesting forward for top teams in the world since he is a self-sufficient and modern profile in this area.
Finishing and end-product
Having scored five goals out of 5.77 expected goals, he shows a little deficiency in his finishing, which averages about 0.15 xG in each of them. This is not bad at all, but he does leave some room for improvement, and we will see why and how he could seek to be even more lethal inside the rival box since he shows an extremely positive and carnivorous smell and instinct to score goals. As well as his end product which seems really decent but frustrating at times for his teammates.
Nuamah is extremely brave and confident every time he takes the ball. He likes to shoot from different areas and distances on the pitch, it is common to see him shooting from outside the area, at the edge of the box or even back, all over the front of the goal looking for the top corner of the goal. He is naturally left-footed, which is why he always looks to open up space towards said leg, but does not ignore his weak foot and sometimes tries to shoot with it. Ironically, most of his goals this season, three, have been scored with his right foot and only one has come from his left foot.
But before talking about the technique of his shot and his decision-making inside the box, we are going to analyze his movements prior to the goal or the shot. Nuamah is an extremely restless player who displays great intensity through his agility and quick reactions to move. He is a striker who would rather arrive at the penalty area than wait there. When he spots a space he can attack, he’s a dagger for any defensive line. He pushes and does not stop until he reaches the area and shoots.
When his team wants to score goals in a more organised attack, with clearer positions and roles than in a counter-attack, Nuamah is an expert at taking the back of a defender to point the pass for a teammate, which will need to break lines and throw the ball for the 19-year-old. Running into space is something that really fascinates him and has already helped him to score on several occasions in the 2022/23 campaign.
This figure shows fantastically how he recognizes his rival sleeping on the marking, leaving space behind for him to attack, and for his teammate to target with a long pass from behind.
Inside the rival box, he tries not to be close to the defenders or to the goalkeeper’s area. Rather, he always tries to get to a certain point and make some steps back to appear freely almost on the penalty spot or on the edge of the box to shoot from there. He prefers to get away from the congested space to generate confusion so that nobody marks him and he can control the ball alone before the shot.
Something that Nuamah tends to do a lot is dribbling inside the box. When he receives inside, he is a footballer who likes to dribble with step-overs and go out to the defender’s weak side, which can be his left or right. Given his power and speed, he is always positionally better, but there are details in his composure and balance after dribbling that he must improve, as well as his excess of touches.
In this situation, we see how he has perfectly won the position away from the defender, after waiting for him from the front and feinting him with his stepovers to then accelerate towards his weak side. But when he was in front of the goal, he did not slow down and without pause, he lost composure and executed an extremely bad shot.
However, this dribbling should not be an aspect to eliminate, since it adds unpredictability to his shot, and given such agility and elasticity at that speed, it can generate fouls inside the box.
He’s a very self-sufficient player that can generate shots from everywhere. If he receives at an angle that doesn’t look quite good to shoot from, he’s going to seek and find a better angle then.
Nuamah is a footballer who, like outside the box, feints about which leg will control the ball, he also does this inside the box. This generates a lot of electricity in his touches and these result in shots that carry a lot of threat. He always decides to look for the goal with a powerful shot, adjusted to the upper corners of the goal. However, he has to get better at this because he doesn’t always get his head up to see where the goalkeeper is positioned, so he’s constantly shooting centrally where the goalkeeper can parry it away. A bit of pause should be good for his game in several senses.
Something that he should improve is the fact that he sometimes looks excessively for a touch too much or a dribble like the ones we showed previously. It can even end in a shot on goal, but perhaps the most favourable decision at that time was a direct shot within his first touch. As in this picture where he received a pass but he opened up his body to receive with the left and not to shoot directly.
His decision-making can sometimes be frustrating for his teammates. Aside from this, he can be really good at dribbling players from the flanks and sending cut-back crosses which, in defence of Nuamah, probably should have been finished off and elevated his assisting numbers. However, you can normally see some partners angry with him because he decided to shoot over passing it on some occasions. He’s very aggressive to look for a shot. Even when he’s outside the penalty box, he decides to go for a goal and it’s not the best decision.
As you can see below, he’s got a great chance to assist a teammate but then takes an extra touch, which creates time for a rival to track back and mark his teammate, to deny a pass and Nuamah executed a shot that was blocked by a defender.
Ernest Nuamah shows some movements without the ball, where he prints an irrepressible intensity and unpredictable dribbling that really take defenders off and lays them to the ground, but if he added a little calm and composure to his game, as well as perhaps taking a touch less at times, he would score many more which would help him grow his status to jump to a top league in the world.
At only 19 years of age, his profile is more than interesting and exciting for the world of football. A player with such speed to accelerate into space and the ability to appear in pockets of space and break mid-low blocks is something that many will seek to obtain and even continue to improve so that the final product is a fairly important footballer in the context of which they want it. With a lot of work and concepts that need to be instilled in him yet, he will become quite a threatening striker in Europe.