Hitting the ground running in scintillating style since joining Manchester City in the summer for a whopping £55.5 million from Rennes, Jeremy Doku has been one of the revelations of the Premier League season so far.
Fitting superbly into Pep Guardiola’s plans and adapting to life in Manchester brilliantly, the explosive Belgian sensation has given the reigning champions another dimension going forward.
“I am really pleased with his impact since he came to us. He is an exceptional winger. It’s the start of many years for him in this house,” Guardiola insisted.
Doku then added: “I’m enjoying every day that I’m here. Every day I wake up and go to the training ground I am happy because playing and performing in this big team is a dream come true.”
Entertaining, exciting and full of flair, he’s been a frightening proposition for defenders to come up against with his wicked blend of physical and technical attributes.
Boasting ridiculous acceleration from a standing start or when jogging and a searing top speed, the jet-heeled winger has used this aspect of his game to devastating effect.
Agile and able to beat defenders on the inside or outside, his electrifying changes of pace and direction compound problems for foes, who simply can’t react quickly enough even if they predict what he planned on doing.
In addition, his hulking strength, balance in possession, ability to ride challenges and low centre of gravity ensure his threat is further enhanced, with the above ensuring he’s good in tight spaces and can protect the ball near the touchline or with his back to goal.
Then, to focus specifically on his output with the ball at his feet, his impressive close control, neat first touch, slick feints and shimmies and tidy arsenal of manoeuvres such as spins, stop gos and hesitation moves mean he’s extremely tough to stop. His cuts infield have been especially fruitful, where he unbalances adversaries and does a little jump, which has proven to be hugely effective in opening up room for him to shoot or pass to a colleague.
The way City create the conditions for the two-footed whizz to be isolated against his direct opponent has been integral too, with this allowing him to do what he does best – driving at back-to-goal facing, retreating opponents. From here, not only can he use his aforementioned skills to outfox his markers or win fouls in promising locations, but he can also use his dynamic advantage to gain an edge.
Giving them some extra directness and unpredictably going forward in slower build-up and in transition, it’s also been important to note how he rotates infield to vary things up, thus allowing him to receive centrally and be in solid scoring areas while disrupting and causing confusion in opposition rearguards.
Showing some excellent timing of his runs in behind, that shrewdly stretches backlines, and occupying some quality positions in the final third when the ball is central or on the opposite flank, expect his danger to only increase once he fully adheres to Guardiola’s defined demands.
There’s been much to admire about his wonderful combination play too, as his one-twos, involvement in third man combos and tidy lay-offs have helped him and his teammates break free from pressure.
To continue on the theme of his passing, and while he can sometimes be overambitious or make poor decisions, many positives can also be extracted from some of his incisive through balls in behind, sharp crosses and cutbacks and from his diagonal deliveries forward – that often move blocks two ways.
On top of terrorising defences with his multifaceted skill set in an attacking sense, there’s been upside to be gained from his defensive work in the form of his committed pressing, adherence to his marking assignments and support of others even though he’s still getting familiar with his manager’s plans.
By the numbers, upon comparing him to fellow Man City star in Jack Grealish this season using Wyscout data, Doku admirably holds the ascendancy over the Englishman in a host of metrics such as assists per 90, expected assists p90, shots p90, shooting accuracy, conversion rate, crosses p90, dribbles p90, successful dribbling percentage, progressive runs p90, touches inside the box p90, key passes p90, passes into the box p90, deep completions p90, successful offensive actions p90 and successful defensive actions p90.
Letting his football do all the talking at City following his big money move from Rennes, all the early indicators are hugely encouraging the diminutive livewire will be a fantastic acquisition.
With still such immense scope for improvement, which both he and Guardiola are aware, everyone associated with the club should be in for a treat watching the 21-year-old fulfil his phenomenal potential.
“When you buy a young player like him for many years, we have to be patient. I will be honest, I didn’t expect he would be at this level in his second game at Man City. Even if you don’t play quite well, be patient, learn when to get the ball. Against Fulham, he got the ball close to Kyle [Walker] but today he was higher. They are processes he has to learn and we are always there to help him and every player has to be themselves. All the players are here because they have a lot of quality,” Guardiola recently asserted.
Doku then stated this on his desire to refine his craft: “I am a young player with so much learning and improving to do. Working with Pep and his staff, and playing alongside these work-class players, will make me a much better player. I feel sure of that.
“Watching City last season was amazing. To win the treble is the hardest thing in football and they did it. You cannot imagine how exciting it is to be joining this team.”
Making a tremendous impact and giving his side a real injection of chaos, the fearless Doku is on a mission to repay the faith of Pep in his quest to stamp his mark in the Premier League, grow into a truly world class player and win silverware.
All the signs are there that all three of those things will become a reality sooner rather than later for the dangerous Doku.