This post originally featured on our comprehensive world football analysis sister site, totalfootballanalysis.com.
Dutch club AFC Ajax have recently seen their reputation increased worldwide with Frenkie de Jong’s €75 million move to Barcelona. The club’s development of young players has been a talking point for many years, and De Jong’s move is just the most recent culmination of that player nurturing and growth. Not every Ajax player waits around as long as him though. Young Chelsea forward Daishawn Redan is a great example of that.
Redan moved from Amsterdam to London last summer. The Dutch striker was a highly-acclaimed academy star, having joined Ajax as a youth player back in 2009. His prowess up top had global scouts frantically jotting down his name as one for the future. Even at 17, Redan was a no-brainer signing for Chelsea.
Daishawn Redan is a quick, talented player who is currently plying his trade with Chelsea’s youth squad. During recent games, he’s been playing as a striker in a 4-4-2 formation. This second-striker role suits him well, as Redan is fast enough to accelerate past defenders and smart enough to drop deep and influence the game in its second phase.
Redan’s proficiency in front of goal is apparent when clocking his statistics for Dutch youth sides. However, it is not just his finishing that ensures rates like nine goals in eight appearances for the Netherlands under-19s. Chelsea’s recent signing has shown a high level of understanding regarding movement in and around the box.
Additionally, Redan is a well-rounded attacker. His dribbling may have some room for improvement, but smart runs in behind and positional sense make up for his lack of on-the-ball skills. His extremely good balance and first touch combine to make him an ideal false-nine, someone who can come deep and collect passes under pressure.
Strafing the defence
The 17-year-old is not extremely strong, especially for the build of a striker. His aerial abilities don’t currently match up to other strikers, making it difficult for him to win headers even against youth-level defenders. But that’s not Daishawn’s game, so I believe he should be judged on his other attributes.
Redan is not extremely good at taking players on, but off the ball is another story. He is quick enough to run behind the lines and pick up a lofted ball. Positioning is also crucial in these instances, and being able to draw out defenders is something Redan has the ability to do. Take a look at his runs that go wide. A central defender is posed the question: stay with Redan and open up space centrally, or confront him and risk a shot on goal?
The concept of drawing players out is not something coveted when discussing world-class strikers. Perhaps it should be, as someone like Daishawn Redan shows how a centrally-positioned player moving out wide changes the shape of a defensive unit. Redan may not have the current ability to finish chances like that, but the very fact that he knows to make these movements is a promising sign.
Showing false-nine promise
These movements don’t always need to be sprints behind the defence. Just as important are the movements towards the ball, not further upfield. Redan also positions himself well when the team needs more midfield involvement. If a midfielder or centre-back has the ball, the Dutchman is comfortable dropping deep to advance play or relieve pressure.
Ajax’s former youth star is not a gifted passer of the ball, even for youth levels, so his involvement in midfield or the second phase of play isn’t usually extremely effective in terms of advancing the ball. As I said, Redan is not super skillful on the ball, so his advances are often stopped and his passes sometimes astray.
However, his first touch keeps defenders at bay while his balance ensures the ball is not often lost early on. If Redan tries to turn his marker, though, he doesn’t yet have the skill to guarantee the ball won’t trickle out of his grasp.
A striker dropping deep doesn’t necessarily need to be anything special. It can just be a relief valve for a pressured defender or midfielder, a chance to advance the ball temporarily to open up space elsewhere. Redan realises this and moves deep when required, as well as running in behind when an opportunity is sensed. When he gets a pass, he is an assured presence on the ball, and when he smells blood, he’s quick enough to run past defenders off the ball.
In the box
Daishawn Redan’s movement is important all around the pitch. We’ve covered the intelligent runs out wide, drawing out defenders and creating space. There’s also the movement towards midfield, interlinking with his teammates and providing stability to Chelsea’s buildup play. The most important type of movement for a striker however is the movement in and around the box. It’s what scores goals or creates the space for teammates to do so.
Redan has scored many goals by preparing for missed clearances or poor goalkeeper positioning, something common at the youth level. Headers from close range or tap-ins make up a large percentage of his goals in London. As the saying goes though, you can’t score those goals if you’re not there to do so. Redan is often there.
Perhaps Redan’s most nuanced moves are during counter-attacks. If the ball is in midfield or out wide, he will dart into the box. This is quite a common undertaking for strikers, but Redan does it with such speed that centre-backs see him as a major threat. Defenders are once again drawn to his run, leaving space elsewhere for a teammate to take a shot on goal.
Basically, everything I’ve discussed about Chelsea youth sensation Daishawn Redan has to do with movement. It’s not because his finishing or speed isn’t great, because they are. I simply believe that the movement of a player is often overlooked, as it is the most important aspect of the game. Chelsea’s Dutch striker is a joy to watch not for his samba skills nor rocket of a right foot, but for his creation of space and knowledge of positioning.
Of course, Redan will need to improve if he is to break into Chelsea’s starting XI. The bad news is that, as a striker, he is not the most physically imposing player. If Daishawn becomes a winger, his dribbling awareness will need to be improved. But as a striker with the free reign to run wide and come short, he may just be a world-class striker.
The ability of a player is not often associated with the team structure he or she plays in. Perhaps unappreciated by many casual football fans is how a player’s interaction with their teammates is of the utmost importance. A player who can dribble but is not aware of his teammate’s runs will never be a success.
Redan needs to play in a side that fits his needs; quick enough to run with him on the break, patient enough to let him drop deep, and with a midfield willing to utilize the space he creates. If he continuously improves and finds a coach with these tactics, he will succeed.
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