Simon Adingra: from Ghana’s Right to Dream academy all the way to the UEFA Champions League – scout report
The Right to Dream Academy is a well-known Ghanian football academy, with FC Nordsjælland one of the key partner clubs. The Danish club pick up many of the players that come out of Right to Dream. Former Nordsjælland players that were signed through the academy include Stade Rennais’s Kamaldeen Sulemana and Ajax‘s Mohammad Kudus. Simon Adingra followed the same path, with the 20-year-old Ivorian forward leaving Nordsjælland this summer to join Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion for a modest fee of 8 million euros, although the Ivorian is being loaned out to Belgian side Royale Union-Saint Gilloise for the 2022/23 season.
Adingra will be tasked with playing a part in replacing the goals that Deniz Undav leaves behind after joining Brighton this summer. Also, USG will be playing in the Champions League qualifiers this season hoping to make it to the group stages, with Adingra able to showcase his talent on the continental stage. This tactical analysis and scout report piece will take a look at some of Simon Adingra’s strengths, as well as how he may fit into the USG squad for this season.
Simon Adingra is a winger by trade, with the Ivorian normally deployed as the left winger in FC Nordsjælland’s 4-3-3 system. While he will attempt to cut inside and move into more central positions at times, out wide is where he spends most of his time, which can be illustrated in more detail by the heat map shown below:
Above, shows Simon Adingra’s heat map from the 2021/22 season with FC Nordsjælland, which illustrates Adingra’s willingness to stay out wide on the left flank, looking to take players on and engage defenders 1v1. Adingra is a capable dribbler, something that will be looked at in more detail later on in this article. The interesting thing will be how Adingra fits into the plans of USG.
After losing Felice Mazzu to Anderlecht in the summer, USG replaced him with his #2 from last season, with Karel Geraerts given the job on a permanent basis. This likely indicates the style of play, as well as formation, that will likely stay the same. Last season, USG utilised a 3-5-2 formation, which means it may be possible that Simon Adingra is deployed in a left-wingback role, but we will have to wait and see if that is the case.
1v1 and dribbling ability
Simon Adingra is someone who people would likely describe as a tricky winger, someone who loves to take defenders on 1v1 and get past them. When taking a look at the underlying statistics for Simon Adingra’s dribbling for last season, the numbers are very good. For FC Nordsjælland last season in all competitions, Adingra averaged 10.17 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 52.9%. Adingra also made 5.11 progressive runs per 90, which again shows that distance that he normally travels into the attacking third with the ball at his feet. This section will take a more in depth look at the dribbling ability of Simon Adingra.
The image above shows an example of the dribbling capabilities of Simon Adingra. He is isolated on the left-wing 1v1 against the opposition fullback, which is a situation he likes to find himself in. After a few step overs, Adingra is finally able to get the defender to bite, sending him the wrong way before using a burst of acceleration and quick movement with the ball at his feet to get towards the byline. With the defender out of the picture, it allows Adingra to send a cross in from the byline, but it, unfortunately, gets cleared by an opposition defender.
It’s not just in 1v1 situations where Simon Adingra is able to excel with his dribbling ability. He is also excellent while dribbling in tight spaces as well, an example of which is shown above. Adingra is in possession and has three defenders in close proximity to him. Even though he is being tightly marked and closed down, he is still able to use his close control to get past the defender in front of him, and away from the other two as a result. When thinking of players who have excellent close control and dribbling inside the penalty box, two names that come to mind are Liverpool forward Mohammed Salah and Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe, two players that surely Simon Adingra would love to be able to be compared to.
The image above again shows the capabilities of Simon Adingra when it comes to 1v1 dribbling inside the penalty area. Once Adingra drives into the penalty box with the ball at his feet, he opts to take the defender on 1v1. Adingra is able to bait the defender into diving in, sending him the wrong way as a result. This allows the Ivorian to cut back inside and have a clear opportunity to shoot at goal, one that unfortunately is right at the goalkeeper.
Simon Adingra’s dribbling is without a doubt one of the strengths that he is bringing to a USG side that will be fighting on multiple fronts next season. He will surely make them a better side going forward, adding a little bit more flair to the attack of the Brussels-based club.
Starting to find his goal-scoring ability
Being an attacking player, Simon Adingra is expected to be able to contribute goals to his side. In his first campaign as a professional with FC Nordsjælland in the 2020/21 season, Adingra only made seven appearances, but did score two goals. Last season was his breakout season, with Adingra making 33 appearances across all competitions for the Danish side, scoring 10 goals.
In regards to shot selection, this is where Simon Adingra could use a little bit of fine-tuning and development. The graphic above shows the last seventy-five shots that the Ivorian took last season, and the noticeable problem is all the X’s inside the penalty box. These are off-target shots. By no means is Adingra poor with his shooting (ten goals is a good return for a winger). Last season, Adingra attempted 3.14 shots per 90 minutes with 47.1% being on target. This section will take a look at some of the goals that Adingra scored this season and break them down.
Being a winger, it is rare for Simon Adingra to find himself in central positions inside the box when the ball is played in. In the attacking phase above, Adingra is positioned near the edge of the penalty box. As the cross is played in from the near touchline, Adingra, who is unmarked, runs onto the ball and fires a shot on the half volley into the far top corner. This shot was unsavable, with the goalkeeper able to do nothing about it. Though Simon Adingra does not have the goal-scoring ability of a typical centre-forward, he is still capable of the spectacular.
A few of Adingra’s goals last season came from his ability to put pressure on the opposition when they were building out from the back, forcing turnovers as a result. This goal results from a mistake made by an opposition defender that Adingra is able to pounce on. Though the mistake is forced by Adingra, he then needs to convert the opportunity, which he has the composure to do. Even though he is being closed down by three opposition defenders; Adingra is still able to convert the chance and score.
Simon Adingra also has the capability to score from the tightest of angles, as shown above. After a quick break from Nordsjælland, Adingra is able to receive the ball on the edge of the opposition’s penalty box unmarked. As he drives into the box, the angle for the shot becomes really tight; but even with the defender closing him down and the goalkeeper attempting to close down the angle, Adingra is still able to shoot the ball into the side netting for a goal.
Though he is only 20 years old, Simon Adingra has become a relatively capable goalscorer, especially considering he normally plays in a wide position and hardly drifts centrally except in shooting chances. With ten goals to his name last season in only first full season in senior football, there is potential for him to score even more, year-on-year.
As mentioned earlier in this piece, Union Saint-Gilloise will likely stick with the same system next season under their new manager Karel Geraerts, a 3-5-2. With this being the case, it most likely means Simon Adingra may be tasked with playing the left wingback position often. The question was also raised as to whether or not Adingra would be able to be deployed in this position because of a question of defensive capabilities.
Well, the Ivorian is actually a decent defender as well. Last season for FC Nordsjælland, Adingra made 6.05 defensive duels per 90, winning 50.4% of them. He also made 4.21 recoveries per 90 minutes last season, with 71.3% of them being in the opposition’s half. This showcases his pressing ability, as well as tendency to defend from the front when possible. This part of the scout report will take a look at some examples of his defending.
The image above shows an example of Simon Adingra when it comes to the defensive phase of play. After the ball is played out from the back to the opposition fullback, Adingra puts pressure on him, engaging in a 1v1 defensive duel. After a little bit of jockeying for possession, Adingra is able to dispossess the fullback, starting an attacking phase for Nordsjælland as a result.
With this being said, Simon Adingra is definitely an attacking first mindset player, as the image above illustrates. In this defensive phase of play above, Adingra is 1v1 against the opposition attacker attempting to win back possession. Unfortunately, Adingra opens his body up too much, which allows the attacker to nutmeg him and get past him into the open space behind the Nordsjælland defence. Adingra is not able to recover quick enough, which allows the opposition attacker to send a ball into the box towards the penalty spot. While he is capable defensively, he still needs some improvement in this regard.
This final example once again demonstrates the defensive capabilities of Adingra. He is able to put pressure on the opposition player in possession and, as a result, proceeds to poke the ball away from the opposition and to his teammate, winning back possession for his side.
At Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, there is every chance that Simon Adingra will be utiliised as more of a wingback than in a central striker position. This would be able to give Adingra a chance this season on loan to be able to refine the defensive side of his game, while also still growing into his attacking side as well. With current Brighton left wingback Marc Cucurella heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, if Adingra can improve the defensive side of his game more, then he may become Cucurella’s long term replacement on the south coast.
This tactics and analysis piece has been able to show the strengths that Simon Adingra possesses, as well as one thing that may need a little work during his loan spell with Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. Though he is not immediately playing in the Premier League this season with Brighton, this is still a huge step up for the Ivorian attacker. USG will be in the later qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League, and playing in one of Europe’s club competitions this season is a virtual guarantee. This is the perfect platform for Simon Adingra to continue to grow and develop.