Kamaldeen Sulemana scout report: the winger “with potential on a par with Neymar” chased by Man United and Ajax
After less than 18 months in Europe, Kamaldeen Sulemana is already attracting interest from the biggest clubs in the world. The 2002-born forward is having a dream career so far: starting in Ghana, his home country, with the famous Right to Dream Academy and making the step to play for the Academy’s team in Europe, Nordsjaelland, the day he turned 18.
In the Danish Superliga, Kamaldeen has had an immediate impact, becoming one of the best players in the league and showing why top teams are in a race to sign him. In this tactical analysis, we’ll look at the bright prospect’s characteristics and the impact he could have on his next team’s tactics.
Player overview and profile
Kamaldeen is a right-footed forward who can play in any attacking position. He’s usually used on the left side, be it as a narrow centre-forward or as a left-winger, so he can cut inside to his strong right foot. As we can see in his heatmap, he covers a lot of ground both on wide areas and in the left half-space, with a good presence at the edge of the box in central areas too.
Standing at 174cm / 5’9”, Kamaldeen isn’t a big player but that makes him unbelievably quick. His pace is among the best ones in world football both over long distances and in explosive accelerations. His low centre of gravity allows him to turn and change directions easily and knows how to use his body to protect the ball despite not being especially strong. His pace is his biggest weapon and the first thing that catches the eye of anyone watching him.
To that, he adds good technique and ability to create things for himself and his teammates in the final third. With 0.45 goal contributions per 90 in his first senior season in Europe, Kamaldeen is already translating his fantastic natural conditions into effective actions despite being just 19.
He’s very direct on the ball and likes to run at defenders as proven by his 19.57 offensive duels and 11.16 dribbles per 90 (both unmatched in the Danish Superliga). Despite his insistence, he’s still effective, winning 41.05% of his offensive duels and completing 49.23% of his dribbles. He can advance with the ball both in small and large spaces and he’s the player with the second most progressive runs in the league with 4.15 per 90.
His passing is relatively simple and with Nordsjaelland being a team that dominates possession, he gets a lot of opportunities to be involved in the attacks. He ranks above average in all passing metrics partially because he makes lots of passes but his accuracy stats (79.19% accurate passes, 70.87% in forward passes) are excellent too.
Attacking movements: width and depth
Depending on his team’s tactics and the role he’s given, Kamaldeen receives the ball in a variety of positions: deep and wide to progress with his runs, higher up the pitch and wide to dribble and get into the box, or running in behind through central areas.
When used as a pure winger, he’s patient enough to wait close to the touchline, providing width and creating space to run at defenders once he receives the ball. He also threatens his marker with runs in behind, forcing him to stay very alert and also creating separation so he has space to run once he receives the ball.
In the picture below, we see Kamaldeen running at full speed into space by the wing. When the defender reacts and starts running back, Kamaldeen stops and comes back to his original position to receive the ball to his feet and with space to run at the defender.
When playing in a more central position, Kamaldeen’s movements are especially good when he attacks the space behind the defensive line.
He’s usually positioned a couple of meters from the centre-backs to have some space to receive to his feet in case the ball possessor prefers that pass but also to attract them, drag them out of position and then run in behind using his superior speed.
Against teams that use a higher block, Kamaldeen’s pace is lethal and a way for his team to attack directly and get advantage of spaces. He’s so fast that passes don’t need to be perfectly accurate for him to get the ball and his movements force teams to sit deeper or take the risk of him being one on one with the goalkeeper after just one pass.
The following sequence illustrates what’s been mentioned very well. In the first image below, we see the moment the long pass is played. At that point, Kamaldeen is a couple of yards from the centre-backs but his teammates still make the pass knowing he can easily recover that disadvantage with his speed.
In the second one, we see the final situation with Kamaldeen finishing with the inside of his left foot and scoring. The pass was a little bit overhit and Kamaldeen’s first contact with the ball was on the line of the box but he had already left behind his rivals and with just one touch he gets himself into the situation we can see in the picture. We’ll cover his finishing later on in this tactical analysis but here we have a preview of how composed he is in front of goal.
And another example of these runs can be seen in the next pictures. In the first one below, we see the moment the pass leaves the boot of the Nordsjaelland’s player. At that point, Kamaldeen is quite far from the defensive line but he starts the run conscious of his pace.
Now below, we see Kamaldeen’s first touch. He has already recovered the distance he had from the centre-backs and won some advantage. The defender laying on the floor challenged him but he’s very difficult to stop once he’s at full speed. This shows how effective his touches are with space in front of him and also his pace and strength to resist challenges.
And in the last one below, we have Kamaldeen’s finishing. He has already gained the advantage and has time to think and place the ball near the post and sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
In the whole play of this goal, Kamaldeen takes just three touches, the exact number he needs to get past the defenders and finish. He understands his pace and has the technique to make the most out of it.
Kamaldeen can be used both wide or in more central areas but it’s in the latter where he can make a bigger impact, especially if the team looks to counterattack. His pace is almost impossible to match for centre-backs and he doesn’t need a lot in terms of quality of passes or dribbling to get chances. When on the wing, he relies more on his dribbling as we’ll see in the following section of this analysis.
Dribbling: personality, skill and lightning pace
We’ve already seen glimpses of Kamaldeen’s pace in the previous sections and in this one we’ll review the most remarkable way he uses it: dribbling.
Kamaldeen is an excellent dribbler and a very complete one too. He can go to either side and his pace means he gets to the ball even when it looks like has lost it, frustrating defenders and drawing lots of fouls. He combines his world-class pace with great skills and creativity in tight spaces.
Most of his dribbles look very simple as he just feints to pin the defender and then uses his fantastic acceleration to get past him. But even if it looks like anyone could do it, Kamaldeen’s touches are very sensitive and he rarely shows heavy touches or technical inconsistencies. For a kid of his age who’s already developing physically and getting to know his body, this is a great signal of how good he can become.
His pace also helps him when dribbling to the left. He gains so much advantage even in smaller distances that he usually has the time to adjust his body position and use his right foot again if he wants. But this doesn’t mean he can’t use his left and he’s happy to pass or cross with his less dominant foot after dribbling.
His agility is also on another level and combines with his acceleration they make him a very unpredictable player. When defenders think they’ve covered every option, he can get past them through the tiniest hole with his quick movements.
The example below shows a good picture of how difficult it is to stop him. As soon as he gets the ball on the left, Kamaldeen runs at the defender and another rival comes to help. With one defender closing down the wing and another one the centre, it looks like there’s no chance to dribble. However, Kamaldeen feints left to create a yard and with his explosiveness, he gets between both defenders and into the box.
The play above shows a lot about Kamaldeen’s dribbling ability. First, he’s confident to run at defenders even when they have the numerical advantage. Then, he has the skill to create the space he needs and his touch to get between the defenders is perfectly accurate. And lastly, he has the change of pace and agility needed to leave them behind.
He likes to showboat and is provocative with his ability on the ball which is one of the reasons why Kamaldeen Sulemana has been compared to Neymar by his coach. He’s creative and has the personality to try new skills and combines them very well with his explosive speed. The league he plays in isn’t as aggressive as the top ones but when he’s at it he looks capable of attempting similar things against better and tougher rivals.
The dribbling skills we’ve reviewed in this section of the tactical analysis lead directly to the final aspect we’ll highlight, which is Kamaldeen’s quality to create chances and score. We’ll go over that in the next section.
Creating and scoring: cutbacks and delicate finishing
Kamaldeen translates all his speed and quality into the most important things for a forward: goals and assists. The Ghanian international has scored 9 goals and provided 4 assists in 2,261 minutes in the last calendar year, a goal contribution every 173 minutes. Considering he’s just 19 and he’s not a pure striker, these figures speak for themselves.
When coming from wide positions, Kamaldeen is excellent at getting into the box with the ball using his pace and dribbling to then play short passes and create chances. His acceleration means he doesn’t need a lot of space to get to the goal line and play a cutback and he could do that both against low blocks or with more space in transitions.
Below, we have the map of Kamaldeen’s key passes in the last season. We can see most of them come from the left side, near the goal line and inside the box. These are the positions he gets into after dribbling, and form there he just needs to play relatively simple passes for his teammates to score. He can also do that from the right and would be an effective right-winger as well.
Most of the other passes marked in the graph above correspond to good options he chooses in counterattacks so even if they’re further down the pitch, the passes still create chances.
Let’s see an example of how Kamaldeen dribbles in the box and then assists when he reaches the goal line. In the next picture, we see Kamaldeen dribbling past the defender after a stepover that sends him the wrong way. He reaches the goal line and has his head up to serve an easy goal to his teammate. His pace and skill give him the time and space he needs to look and choose the best passing option.
These kind of cutbacks from both wings are Kamaldeen’s main source of assists but he also has a good touch to cross the ball and he gets that much on the ball thanks to Nordsjaelland dominating possession that he ranks in the top 10% for crosses per 90 among the Danish Superliga with 2.09.
Kamaldeen is also a very composed and lethal finisher. He uses mostly the inside part of both feet to place his shots far from the goalkeeper and near the post. His quick movements allow him to create the space he needs to shoot and he has the delicate touch needed to avoid the goalkeeper without having to shoot with power. We have seen examples of this kind of finishing in previous sections of this scout report.
The slight difference between Kamaldeen’s expected goals (0.37 per 90) and his goals (0.31 per 90) is mostly because of the high amount of shots he takes from difficult positions. He likes to shoot from wide positions in the box or outside it and those efforts rarely end up in something positive even if the shot itself is good.
The shot map of the current season shows exactly what’s been described. We see that lots of the times Kamaldeen shoots from central areas he scores and all his goals but one came from the highlighted area. But he still attempts lots of shots from the corners of the box which are very unlikely to go in.
These speculative shots need to be improved and it can happen in two ways: either he starts scoring some of them by tuning his finishing or he stops taking them and chooses better options. Both solutions are possible and at his age, he has plenty of time to improve that.
When looking at the location of his shots, there’s a clear tendency. Most of Kamaldeen’s goals come from low shots placed near the post and he’s very good at that kind of delicate finishes to either post and using both legs. But he likes to attempt curved shots from the left side and into the far post’s corner even if he doesn’t really excel at those shots and lots of them don’t hit the target.
These suboptimal decisions regarding from where and how to shoot explain why Kamaldeen is slightly underperforming his xG and also why his shooting accuracy is below average with just 40.7% of his shots hitting the target.
Kamaldeen has everything to be a superstar in the near future. His pace and dribbling technique would be enough to make him an interesting player for teams in the big leagues but he also adds goals and assists to that, making him one of the most exciting youngsters in the world right now.
With Man United and Ajax supposedly leading the fight for the Ghanian forward, it looks like we’ll see Kamaldeen in the Champions League next season. A transfer to the Eredivisie would be a more natural step as the difference isn’t as big and he’ll reunite with his ex-teammate and fellow Ghanian Mohammed Kudus. However, he seems ready to have an impact in the EPL too and Man United could slowly introduce him to the highest level of football and help him adapt as he develops as a footballer. Liverpool have also been tipped to sign the youngster so the fight will be fierce.