Ever since winning their fourth World Cup title in 2006, Italy have seen few highs and incredible multiple lows. While they reached the final of the 2012 Euros and won the 2020 edition, their record at the World Cup stands as follows:
- Eliminated in the group stage in 2010 and 2014,
- Failure to qualify in 2018 and 2022.
This has led to calls to develop a new generation of Italian players who can help the country rediscover their mojo in international football. Ibrahima Bamba could be one of the players to benefit from such a move.
The talented defensive midfielder cum centre-back who is currently playing in the Portuguese league is regarded as one of the best young prospects from Italy. While he only started playing senior team football this season, his performances have caught the eyes of several clubs sniffing around to sign him.
So, who is Ibrahima Bamba, and how good is he?
How good is Ibrahima Bamba?
Ibrahima Bamba was born on April 22, 2002, to parents who had migrated to Italy from Côte d’Ivoire. The youngster was raised in Vercelli, a city in northern Italy. His talent in the game was there for all to see, and thus, he was enrolled at the local club Pro Vercelli in 2015.
Bamba played there for five years, becoming one of their most successful youth products. This means that he was attracting interest from clubs in Italy and beyond. Finally, after careful consideration, the player made a very risky decision as he left his nation and travelled across the Mediterranean to Portugal, joining Vitoria Guimaraes.
His decision to join a club not in the top three of the Portuguese league (Porto, Sporting, and Benfica) was fuelled by his ambition to quickly get to playing senior team football. And it has worked wonders for him.
Initially, he was sent to the reserve side, where he played nine times in the 2020-21 season. However, that was enough proof for Moreno, his manager in the reserves, who was promoted to senior team manager simultaneously.
Ivory Coast currently have Ousmane Diomandé,Bamo Meïté and Ibrahima Bamba as CB options.
How many countries can boast of having 3 of the best U23 center backs in elite European leagues ? https://t.co/mqNQNmMtgm
— Jonathan Hadid (@yhawjoey) April 24, 2023
Ibrahima Bamba stats
Ibrahima Bamba has played 25 times in the current season amassing over 2000 minutes which shows how brilliant he has been in his first senior-team season. While he is yet to score a goal or provide an assist, his influence has been brilliant.
Stats from FotMob show that Bamba has made 105 clearances this season, the tenth-best for a player in the league. He has also made 1.4 successful tackles per 90 minutes, with a success rate of 61.4 per cent.
As he has been played as a centre-back more this season, his defensive numbers have taken a considerable jump. According to fbref, he ranks among the top one percentile of defenders. Bamba is also adept at tackling dribblers ranking among the top four percentile. He also averages 6.69 ball recoveries among the top nine percentile of defenders.
In addition, the player is amazing at holding the ball, which is validated by the 1.74 fouls he draws every match among the top one percentile of defenders.
Ibrahima Bamba scout report
Analysing his heatmap from Sofascore proves one thing, Bamba is a beast in his half. Even as a centre-back, he likes to close down the opposition by quickly rushing to the opposition player with the ball. Bamba is also a player that possesses the brilliant acumen of a defender and the ball-carrying capability of a midfielder.
He is also a very calm player with the ball. His 1.85 metre-tall frame makes it very difficult for the opposition to dispossess him, which means that Vitoria Guimaraes are rarely outnumbered in their half. Bamba is also a very intelligent player, which allows him to predict the opponents’ attack and ensure his team are in the best tactical shape to contain them.
However, one area where Bamba needs immediate improvement is his passing. Despite playing as a centre-back, Bamba will surely transition into a defensive midfielder in the future. When this happens, he will need to be better at passing to ensure he becomes the heart of the midfield and control the flow of the game.
Ibrahima Bamba transfer news
One of the clubs that have been touted to be extremely interested in acquiring the services of Ibrahima Bamba are Arsenal. In recent years, the Premier League leaders have been very successful with young talents in the transfer market.
20 year old Ibrahima Bamba is reportedly close to a big move to Arsenal as a Thomas Partey understudy. His agents were very recently just in London. Bamba is seen as a special talent 🇧🇷 #afc
Gooners, how would you feel about this? pic.twitter.com/EhSj9FJrvW
— ⁹ 🤙🏾 (@JesusRole9) January 26, 2023
This news got more traction when his agent Filipe Macedo Alves was seen in London. However, Alves has refuted these allegations. “He’s a player profile that is clearly of interest to many clubs, but today he is a Vitória player and is only focused on Monday’s game in Chaves. The market is open, but I’m not going to feed rumours,” Alves said.
Whatever happens in the summer, one thing is sure, Ibrahima Bamba has a vast potential. Whether he fulfils it or not remains to be seen.