With Sky Sports reporting that Arsenal have begun discussions with KAS Eupen attacker Henry Onyekuru, I thought it best that we take a look at the youngster in this week’s Scout Report.
Born on June 5th 1997 in the Nigerian city of Onitsha, Onyekuru began his footballing journey at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar in 2010.
He remained with the academy until 2015, when he was signed by Aspire partner side KAS Eupen, playing in the Belgian second division at the time.
In his first season with the club, he helped them win promotion to the Pro League, scoring six goals in 19 appearances.
However, this season has seen Onyekuru’s goal scoring form drastically improve, netting 12 goals and providing seven assists in the regular Pro League season, before bagging 10 goals in 10 games during the playoffs, as well as adding a further two assists. The 19-year-old also scored twice in three cup games.
His 24 goals and nine assists across all competitions has seen many a club take an interest in the Nigerian, with Everton, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton all thought to be after him. Scottish giants Celtic even had a bid for him rejected in January.
It would now appear that Arsenal have stolen a march on the competition and are close to securing his signature. But, what can we expect to see from Onyekuru?
Now, I’ll be honest, I’d heard good things about the attacker, but, I’ll admit, I’d never actually seen him play. A quick YouTube search later and I was left open mouthed at the player we might be getting.
Onyekuru has pace in abundance, able to take on defenders at ease and create chances with his quick and direct running.
He is also incredibly skilful, something he uses to his advantage. When in tight situations where his pace cannot help him, he uses his quick feet to escape opposing players before exploding into the space. He even had the audacity to roulette an opposition goalkeeper earlier this season, winning a penalty for Eupen.
He is also a confident and composed finisher in the penalty area, never rushing or panicking when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Due to his pace, he is incredibly effective on the counterattack, whilst also having the ability to get his head up, play the right pass, and pick out a fellow teammate.
One downside to Onyekuru’s play is his strength. At just 5ft 9in tall, he is sometimes easily muscled off the ball by defenders, while his skill and pace often sees defenders become frustrated and look to foul him.
Because of this, he may struggle with the physicality of the Premier League but, many a player who has similar traits to the Nigerian have succeeded, such as Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.
His versatility is also impressive. The 19-year-old can play anywhere across the front three, creating chances and scoring goals in equal measure wherever he plays.
With a release clause of just £6.8 million, it is a small fee to pay for the player we will be getting.
Granted, we might not see him in the Premier League immediately as he is definitely a player for the future but, if he was to be used in the league next season, I believe he would be a success.
He might not be the big money signing that Arsenal fans are crying out for but, he is a very good one, representing value for money and with a bright future ahead of him.
I am very excited to see Henry Onyekuru in an Arsenal shirt.