Kwame Poku – Player Report

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 11/08/2001
  • Current Club: Colchester United
  • Career: Cray Wanderers, Worthing, Colchester
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

At 18 years old, Colchester is Poku’s first step into professional football and the football league. Joining from non-league Worthing, Poku has made a big impact in his first season with Colchester and has racked up 2694 minutes across all competitions this season. He has managed to score 5 goals and get 2 assists from 4.36 xG and 3.06 xA this season and is one of just two teenagers with 2000+ minutes in the league.

Poku has been utilised across the pitch for Colchester this season, he has the ability to play centrally as well as out wide on both wings. Colchester played a 4-2-3-1 formation for a lot of this season, with Poku deployed as one of the three behind the striker.

Off the Ball

Let’s get Poku’s one major negative flaw out of the way first, which is his defending. Now he isn’t necessarily a massive hindrance to Colchester on the defensive side of things. He holds the shape well and he is able to get back into position quickly enough. He presses reasonably well and makes passes difficult by protecting a number of passing lanes in his cover shadow and he reacts well to pressing triggers, be that a poor touch or loose pass. But this only applies up to a point, when Poku has to engage attackers in defensive situations he struggles. He is easily bypassed with a simple pass and is a rather passive defender after he gets into the position he should be occupying. Further up the pitch he does occasionally show the ability to nick the ball back high up as he notices good opportunists to press after mistakes.

On the attacking side of things Poku’s movement is impressive for a player of his years. He isn’t always running around looking for the ball and he has a knack of drifting into space by holding off and standing still as play develops around him. His positional versatility is evident as he is comfortable drifting across the width of the pitch and picking up the balls in all positions. He is comfortable dropping deeper into midfield to find space to get on the ball which also creates space for full backs to attack into which was a key feature of Colchester’s play. Poku takes the the 35th highest touches in the box p90 in League 2 by a wide or attacking midfielder which helps demonstrate his ability to find space in dangerous areas and get involved in areas that will help his team win games.

He shows an awareness to create good passing options and angles for his teammates and does well to receive balls in the half spaces where he can start to influence the game in an attacking sense and bring his on the ball qualities into play. The below visualisations of where Poku received passes in four League 2 games show where he likes to pick the ball up and how he is willing to come into deeper areas to get on the ball and influence the game.

Poku Received Passes – Wyscout

A criticism of Poku’s game on both the attacking and defensive side of the ball is his seemingly passive nature. He likes to hang back away from play sometimes to find space on the pitch and he is partial to a late arrival into the box or into the move. There are times Poku can be seen in an attacking area at the start of the move but as the ball makes it’s way over into that space he isn’t there anymore to pick up a loose ball or make a passing option. Poku sometimes seems to lack awareness of where attacks are likely to develop and so isn’t occupying positions where he can get on the ball and rather he isn’t contributing to moves on or off the ball as he is sometimes too far away from areas that can affect play.

On the Ball

With the ball at his feet is where Poku really shines. He is an excellent dribbler thanks to his balance and speed with the ball. He poses a serious threat to defenders with his ball carrying.

This shows some dribbling stats of players in League 2 with 1500+ minutes of game time. Poku ranks 16th highest for the number of dribbles per 90 which demonstrates his confidence on the ball and in his own ability to be able to beat a defender. He doesn’t complete his dribbles at the highest rate but he is successful with a good proportion of his attempted dribbles, with a completion rate of just over 55% he is a good bet to be able to go past his man.

Poku’s dribbling ability is helped by his agility and close control. He is always in control of what he’s doing on the ball and rarely lets things get away from him. He uses body feints and bits of skill well to be able to manipulate the ball and create space for him to work in.

These clips show examples of Poku’s ability to excel in tight areas and when he has space to work in. The final clip of his goal against Salford is a great example of his pace when carrying the ball the the control he has over his body to make subtle changes of direction to get away from chasing defenders. He has the awareness to quickly notice areas of space and weakness in the defence and can drive into it to create dangerous situations. The other two clips from a 2-0 loss to Cheltenham demonstrate Poku’s ability to decelerate to slow a defender down before being able to get away from them to create space to be able to deliver into the box.

At 5’9″ tall with quite a slim build Poku is impressive in physical battles for someone of his build. He does well use his body to hold off opponents and he is good at getting in between man and ball which makes him difficult to dispossess at times as it’s risky for a defender to tackle as he can move away from them so quickly. His ability to get in between the ball and the defender is goos as it allows him time to manipulate the ball and create some space to work in, where he can then bring teammates into play.

One problem Poku faces on the ball is he sometimes shows a lack of maturity in his decision making and turns the ball over a lot, he averages 10 losses of possession per 90 with a third of those losses in his own half. He sometimes struggles to create a tangible end product from positions of good opportunity. He is statistically one of the weakest crossers of the ball.

You can see here that Poku not only doesn’t a particularly high volume of crosses but he is also one of the least accurate crossers compared to other wide and attacking players. He is also on the lower end of xA per 90 the same subset of players running at 0.1 xA.

His passing in general he tends to keep pretty simple. Colchester are a team who averaged just under 50% possession for the season so they aren’t a team is dominating the ball so it’s important to make the most of the possession they do have. Poku averages around 27 passes per game with 79% accuracy. He rarely attempts longer balls with only 2.31 attempted per 90. He tends to try and retain possession with his passes rather than try anything too expansive. He plays just under 8 forward passes per 90 and 2.77 passes into the final third. These passes come with a success rate of 64 and 60% successfully which suggests he does have the capacity to be able to play more incisive passes but doesn’t do so with enough regularity. He much prefers to progress the ball himself as he ranks 23rd in League 2 for progressive runs per 90.

Conclusion

At just 18 years old Poku obviously has his issues when it comes to decision making and some of his movement off the ball and any team that plays him would be sacrificing some defensive ability while he is on the pitch. He lacks some tangible end product at times and could do with improving as a creative passer as he moves forward in his career playing out wide or in behind the striker.

However, for an 18 year old Poku is already quite impressive in physical encounters and still has a lot of scope to work on his upper body strength to improve that even further. He has great balance speed and agility that makes him an excellent dribbler. When this his coupled with his technical ability, his close control and first touch is smooth and always him to glide across the pitch at times, he is a huge threat to defences when he has the ball at his feet. He has the presence and ability to draw defenders into him before playing away from leaving space for him or his teammates to attack into .

With his pace and dribbling ability, Poku would be an asset to any team. He could prove an effective outlet on counter attacks for teams that play on the break and he also has the ability to help unlock defences that are sitting in against teams that are more ball dominant.

At such a young age, there should be no rush for Poku to jump ship from a Colchester side where he is getting good minutes for a promotion chasing side and developing his game in a competitive league. But it would be no surprise to see some bigger fishes start to circle for him and he has the ability to play at a much higher level. Another season or two in League’s 1 and 2 would be beneficial to his development where he can start to improve his decision making and passing ability before he starts to push up into higher divisions.

Rating – A2

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