Kian Donkers is an 18-year-old striker who plays for Cashmere Technical in New Zealand’s domestic football system. This was Donkers’ first full season of senior football in New Zealand. He averaged a goal every 75 minutes in the regional phase of the calendar and then a goal every 135 minutes in the much more competitive national phase. He also scored 9 goals at the Oceania U-19 championships which, as far as I can tell, is a tournament record. Donkers has not been tested against a particularly high level of competition yet. But when you compare his goal-scoring record to successful exports from New Zealand in years gone by and look at some of the traits he has it’s clear that he has the potential to take the next step. Donkers is eligible for Dutch citizenship which should make him a tantalising prospect for clubs in Europe looking to make a cheap bet with a potentially huge payoff.
In the New Zealand National League, the highest level of competition he has faced so far, Donkers is primarily a goal poacher. He is the sort of player who might not touch the ball for 60 minutes and then pop up, seemingly out of nowhere, with a goal. He has really good movement in the penalty area and is good with the ball at his feat. He is very adept at making quick movements to beat defenders when he is isolated against them. Two of his goals in the National League were the result of a quick dribble that left a defender literally on the ground before an adept finish. That said though, he is not the sort of player that will run at defenders. Usually, if he has to beat several players he will look to recycle possession.
Donkers is tall but quite slight. He sometimes struggled a bit with the physicality of players in the National League. But, considering he only turned 18 in September, this is sort of to be expected. Against his age group, at the OFC-19 championships, he threw his weight around quite a bit more. So I think we can expect him to improve on that front as he gets older. He’s not going to be representing New Zealand in track and field any time soon but he is significantly faster than your average lumbering semi-pro centre-back. Cashmere Technical’s counter-attacking style affords him lots of opportunities to get in behind defences. His first touch sometimes lets him down a bit, and he doesn’t participate in the build-up very much.
But despite his obvious shortcomings, Donkers is still scoring goals at a rate that’s consistent with players who have gone on to bigger things. I think that’s very encouraging. If he can improve the physical side of his game, something that should happen at least partially just by aging, he would have the makings of a top goal poacher. I don’t think he quite has the potential to reach the very apex of European club football but I think he can be a solid player in a good European first division. His Dutch heritage makes the Netherlands the most obvious destination for him but any nation in the EU could be a good landing spot. Alternatively, he could be a smart signing for MLS Next Pro. I would say, it would probably be best for him to start out playing reserves or U23 football unless he’s going to a really low European nation. His game is pretty much all goal-scoring at this point and if he isn’t scoring goals right away it could be a struggle for him to adapt and round out his game.