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A reject turned prospect

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When players go on loan, it is often questioned how the move can help their development and whether the parent club performed its due diligence to ensure the best possible environment for its player. In the English Premier League, where TV rights and commercial revenue create an explosion of wealth for its 20 teams, the pressure to spend each transfer window to remain competitive can impede the integration of many young players and forces them into a cycle of loan spells. And no, we’re not talking about Chelsea.

Leicester City won the 2015/16 Premier League season in incredible fashion and emerged with a financially sustainable model that has allowed them to compete with the “Big Six” Premier League clubs. Despite falling short of Champions League qualification for the past couple of seasons, the Foxes won the FA Cup trophy, marking their first silverware since their Premier League title.

What also can help Leicester hold their heads high is the remarkable success they’ve had in the transfer market, demonstrating the ability to scout and recruit young players which they can sell for big profits. At the same time, the club has managed to sustain a plethora of young talent to help Brendan Rodgers build a tactical system that combines veteran presence with key cornerstones such as Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi and James Maddison. The club were poised for another summer with efficient recruitment led by Director of Football Jon Rudkin. Although with very little activity in the 2022/23 transfer window, Leicester City have struggled this season.

Rudkin, who also serves as the Director of Football at Leicester’s sister club OH Leuven in Belgium, bought Ghania youngster Kamal Sowah to the King Power stadium. Although after 3 successful seasons of loan spells, The Foxes decided to cash in on the Ghana international, without making an official appearance for them. Now, plying his trade at Club Brugge who have taken the 2022/23 Champions League by storm, Kamal Sowah has been at the centre of their success.

How good is Kamal Sowah?

21-year-old Kamal Sowah has spent the past three and half years at Leuven on loan from Leicester, making 72 total appearances and providing 13 goals and 10 assists. Sowah joined the Leicester City Academy from Right to Dream Academy in 2018.

As new as that may seem, Sowah is a man on a mission and a player that looks certain to thrive after a difficult spell in his initial year in Belgium.

The Ghanaian arrived in Belgium during the 2021/22 summer transfer window, where he was signed by then manager, Phillippe Clement, from Oud-Heverlee Leuven for nine million euros for Brugge.

However, after just four months at the club, Sowah was deemed unfit for the coach’s team with the club facilitating a loan move to Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar for him. The Dutch league also proved an uncomfortable situation for the youngster, who was just limited to eight appearances in the top flight. But with Clement leaving at the end of the season to AS Monaco and Brugge appointing Carl Hoefkens, Sowah looked to have a home again in Bruges.

Fast forward to the current situation at the club and the forward has only started from the bench on two occasions. What is more striking is the fact that there is the belief the 22-year-old is beginning to enjoy a breakthrough at the West Flemings despite arriving a year ago.

Under Clement, the Ghanaian was often played out of position as he was more tasked with defensive duties as a wing-back. But under Hoefkens, Sowah performs considerably better as he is given a more central role by the new manager. His new role allows him to play to the strength of his qualities, which is also helping his side reap the needed results.

 

Kamal Sowah stats

Sowah often played as a right winger to run at defenders in attacking phases. This is highlighted in his 4.82 attempted dribbles per 90 minutes when playing on the right, compared to 2.72 when playing centrally in midfield and as a forward.

A comparison of his passing numbers on the right and playing centrally shows that Sowah produced higher xA out wide (0.23 per 90 vs. 0.14) and completed more passes into the penalty area (2.96 per 90 vs. 2.16), demonstrating greater attacking productivity as a right winger than when occupying central areas.

Though he plays more central now, Kamal Sowah never neglects the opportunity to help his side defend. On the opening day of the 2022/23 Champions League, only Mason Mount (Chelsea) as an attacker was more active on the defensive side than Sowah. Mount won no less than 14 defensive duels.

With the kind of performance displayed by the youngster in terms of his defensive duties, only Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Ousmane Dembele (FC Barcelona) and Joao Félix (Atlético Madrid) added to Mount won more.

Kamal Sowah scout report

Following OH Leuven’s promotion to the Belgian top flight, Kamal Sowah took his game to the next level in the Pro League, finishing the 2020–2021 campaign with 8 goals and 6 assists in 34 appearances. Playing over 3000 minutes, Sowah gained valuable top-flight experience in a league that has shown a proven track record of developing young talents such as Jonathan David and Leicester’s own Wilfried Ndidi and Youri Tielemans. Sowah’s breakout season has helped him emerge as one of the most promising youngsters at Club Brugge and also helped him earn his first national team cap for Ghana in May.
Sowah can play anywhere across the front line and has also chipped in as a central midfielder on numerous occasions for his side. Impressively, Sowah started in every single Pro League game for his side in 2020/21, scoring 8 goals and contributing 6 assists in this time.

Based on Sowah’s productivity in dribbling and producing assisting opportunities last season, his team looked to maximize his strengths on the wing rather than the more central role he occupied for several games. As a left-footed attacker, Sowah’s playstyle on the left was more focused on his passing vision and crossing ability, reflected in his stats which showed a higher rate of long pass completion and accuracy than when played centrally

 

Kamal Sowah Club Brugge transfer news

The kind of start Sowah has had at Brugge in the Champions League, elite clubs from Europe will surely have taken notice. It remains to be seen whether that notice turn into interest and the interest into an actual bid.

There is no doubt that Sowah is one of those late bloomers and has got Leicester City to reject their decision. The Ghanaian international who is still on 22 has plenty of time on his favour and can without a doubt end up at one of the bigger clubs

If Sowah is to thrive for Brugge under the new manager this season, he will need to come up a similar performance in the remain of the season as well as add goals and assists to his game. But, it is no doubt that the Ghanaian is already making Clement’s decision to take him on loan last season a wrong one.

Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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